Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 3, Page 14
Alumni Profile - Propping up the party

     For John DellaRocca, Delaware '87, the art department was far
removed from the business and pre-law classes he took at the
University. For Mary (O'Neill) DellaRocca, Delaware '86, the art
department was where she studied illustration with teacher/mentor
Charles Rowe.
     Today, for both of them, the art department means something
completely different.
     Combining his business sense and her creativity, the couple
formed their own company, The Art Department Inc., which transforms
the atmosphere of a room for a social event. Whether it's a corporate
luncheon, a bar or bas mitzvah or a catered party, the DellaRoccas,
along with their 20 young artists, design rooms to a customer's
     "We design according to themes. We've done everything: under-the-
sea parties, Star Trek, tropical, safari and medieval," Mary says.
"The customers tell us what they want, and we figure out how to do
     And, it's more than just backdrops, centerpieces and cardboard
cut-out fish hanging from the rafters. Dimensional art work from The
Art Department Inc. is constructed from such art materials as foam
board and Duraboard. For one occasion, guests crossed over a moat to
enter a medieval world created by the company.
     The Art Department Inc. also has expanded into the storefront and
store window display market. The DellaRoccas say they see real
potential for growth in this market: The more store windows they
decorate, the more exposure they have. The more exposure, the more
     And business is going well. The company moved out of the family
garage, into a 7,500-square-foot warehouse in 1992. In a few months,
the couple hopes to purchase a 30,000-square-foot building in
     For the DellaRoccas, theirs has always been a 50-50 partnership.
     "We're very compatible and very different," John says. "It's
always been like that."
     Back in college, he would walk across campus to the art
department to meet Mary after classes. Now, they meet at The Art
Department Inc. every day.
                                                          -David Scott