Russ McKinney & The Village of Arden

The Village of Arden was founded in 1900 by a group of early residents interested in building a utopian community. Based on economic principles established by Henry George, it attracted artists inspired by the arts and crafts movement to set up homes in this Delaware town. Today, Arden is home to many fine artisans, including Russ McKinney.

Russ McKinney is an artist, writer and musician who has called the Village of Arden home since 1969. McKinney began drawing at the age of four, and did his first hand-tooled, low-relief in copper when he was 9. Copper remains his primary medium and the majority of his current works are of botanical subjects. If you were to visit his garden, you would certainly understand why that is. An avid gardener, he has turned his yard into a botanical wonderland that continues to be a source of inspiration for his art.

Late spring of this year, Friday Arts had the pleasure of spending a couple days with Russ and his wife Connie. In our interview, McKinney shares the difficult circumstances that lead him to gardening, surrounding the death of his son, Owen, at the age of six. He talks about their ability to get through it all in the town they embraced and helped flourish.

We also talk with Barbara Macklean at The Arden Craft Shop Museum, about the Museum’s beginnings and the role it has continued to play in this “Artful” village. It’s a place surrounded by the history of the early artisans and those who reside there today.

When shooting was done, the Friday Arts crew found it difficult to leave the quaint Village of Arden, after experiencing a lot of good conversation, a lot of good art and music, and great homemade cookies by Russ!

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