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A Rich and Complicated Palette

Salt Magazine

The circuitous path that led Wilmington artist Joe Seme back to the easel

By Jim Moriarty • Photograph by Andrew Sherman

Joe Seme is wedged in.

The chair at his cramped drawing table creaks and rocks when he leans in to paint, his brushstrokes painstakingly precise. The chair doesn’t swivel so much as it genuflects to one side when he reaches for something out of a bottom drawer. His files of things done, undone and to do are stuffed into a swamped piece of dark furniture, a secretary with tentacles of paper growing from every cubby, flowing from every nook, crammed in every drawer. Classic decoys float on the windowsill behind him in the chaotic second-floor studio of his townhouse not far from the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course. A flight of geese and ducks, as stuffed as the room they occupy, are frozen in space on the wall to his right. Less Hitchcockian than utilitarian, they’re among his former models. A covered skylight he wishes he hadn’t put in is above him, and in front of him are the faces of four dogs, the pets of friends, to be immortalized.

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