Kenny Family unveils mural, marks 25th anniversary
STANTON – The ShopRite off Newport Pike will never look the same after its owner, the Kenny Family ShopRite Stores of Delaware, invested in an enormous mural spotlighting the worker of Delaware farmers who supply their stores.
It’s a rare piece of big public art in Delaware, especially in a heavily commercial and industrial corridor like Stanton, but it marks a gift back to the community while celebrating the grocery chain’s 25th anniversary.
The Kenny Family ShopRites, which actually was founded by Bernard Kenny in 1995 but the pandemic prevented their anniversary celebrations last year, recognized the dozens of its more than 1,000 workers who had worked for them every year at a public ribbon cutting for the mural Nov. 10. The company also announced that for the first time it would be closing its six stores on Thanksgiving as a thank you to its associates.
“My brother and I and the staff have talked about, had an idea about this mural, but we couldn’t quite find a way to bring it to fruition,” said Melissa Kenny, executive vice president of the family business. “Then we met Christian, who made this beautiful thing.”
Delaware-based muralist Christian Kanienberg, who also painted the murals in Trolley Square in Wilmington, worked for 10 weeks to paint the more than 5,000-square-foot mural – his largest outdoor mural ever. He relied upon projectors to place images upon the wall, which he would stencil and fill in with a vibrant array of colors.
Kanienberg laughed recalling that Melissa Kenny was unlike most corporate clients, as she knew where the mural was to go but didn’t have much input into what it should look like.
“She described giving back to the community and paying homage to the diversity in the community and their workers,” he said. “There was just such a freedom that she and the team gave to the project, and it really lends a hand to the end product.”
After talking, Kanienberg settled on a theme of Delmarva farmers who supply the company’s stores with local produce. Kenny said their ShopRites have sold more than 1 million ears of Delaware corn annually for many years.
The final product features “Delaware Proud” farmers harvesting wheat and radishes, and an enormous cow at the center that already is proving popular. Kanienberg recalled working on the final pieces of the project one day when he heard a young girl ecstatically talking to her mother about the cow as they walked by.
“In that moment, I just realized what an impact public art can have, not just on children but people. We can value something that is hand-painted, created by an artist, and is not digital stock photography or a billboard,” he said.