Culture

What they made: NAGB campers showcase their skills in new exhibition

July 24, 2015

This week, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) opened its most recent exhibition - a body of works showcasing the talents of campers, ages five to 15, from the first session of the NAGB's Mixed Media Art Summer Camp. Held in the Project Space room at the NAGB, the show offers a sampler of the camp's range of art forms and the campers' respective talents and skills developed over the camp's three weeks.
The first session of the camp kicked off on June 22 and ran until July 9. Each day, campers attended lessons led by discerning artists and dedicated volunteers.
Multimedia artist Jordanna Kelly worked with groups to create collage installations using paint pantones while book artist and printmaker Sonia Farmer showed campers how to create their own books. Noted artist and COB art instructor Derek Paul led his classes in experimenting with a variety of painting techniques, and artist and filmmaker Jackson Petit got campers started on painting still-lifes. NAGB Curatorial Trainee and artist Natalie Willis and Petit teamed up to give a workshop in digital media while artist and Junkanoo costume designer Smith took a grassroots approach, giving campers the opportunity to create their own masks and Junkanoo skirts. For many of the participants, the camp offered a chance to experiment for the first time with sculpture and clay, as they built works with ceramicist Spurgeonique Morley. In between there were fun and fresh activities, some of which led to the production of remarkable work.
Now, the efforts of camp faculty, staff and participants can be appreciated in the group show.
Curated by Averia Wright, in coordination with Abby Smith, the show's aim is to exhibit at least one art work from each camper. The Mixed Media Art Summer Camp has also sought to encourage campers to consider creative avenues of employment, and the exhibition serves as an opportunity for young artists to have their work displayed in a national forum. It comes at a time when Celebrating 40 Years of the Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment is on display at the NAGB.
Celebrating 40 Years of the Central Bank showcases works from Central Bank's extensive art collection, many of which were collected from the winners of the bank's high school and open category competitions. Through its competitions, the bank has sought to encourage growth in younger artist generations. Participants are given the opportunity to see what their peers are doing artistically, compete for prize money to fund art studies and see their work displayed publicly.
"The kids get an opportunity to exhibit at our gallery, so they have the chance at a young age to say 'I've exhibited at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas'. It gives them a sense of pride and work ethic," said the camp's director, Abby Smith.
The exhibition can be viewed at the NAGB from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Locals are invited to visit the NAGB free of charge, as Central Bank of The Bahamas has committed to covering the cost of admission for Bahamians and residents throughout the month of July.
To find out more about the NAGB, visit it online at nagb.org.bs or call 328-5800.

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Bahamian culinarians take a taste of The Bahamas with a twist to Cuba

July 17, 2015

Heating up the region's cultural arena at the Fiesta del Fuego, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas recently traveled to Santiago, Cuba to represent The Bahamas at the festival's pop-up gallery. Santiago is the island nation's second-largest city and former capital. The city, said to be situated in the heart of the Caribbean, celebrates its 500th anniversary this year.
An annual affair, the event welcomes hundreds of delegates from approximately 20 countries during the early part of July. Each year, the festival selects one country to be the 'guest of honor'; this month, at the 35th edition of the festival, The Bahamas brought its 'A' game as the nation of focus.
Reaching out to The Bahamas' foremost cultural institutions, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture invited the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) to take part in showcasing all the country has to offer culturally.
NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, Assistant Curator Averia Wright and Gallery Assistant Jodi Minnis worked around the clock selecting 51 pieces of art from the Dawn Davies Collection, D'Aguilar Art Foundation and National Collection, which they felt could "create an historical overview of the development of Bahamian art and an historical overview of the country".
She added: "The collection featured work from the turn of the century up until today and which covered various industries and changes in the islands, like the arrival of Columbus, to the advent of
Junkanoo, to Bahamian independence."
At the fiesta, the pop-up gallery was one of 40 culture hubs hosted by numerous regional delegates from their respective countries. The festival spaces were scattered around Santiago and featured music and dance, religious ceremonies, poetry, theater, other art exhibitions and a Junkanoo rush-out, attracting hundreds of locals and visitors from around the world.
A much-anticipated street party, the festival's objective is to highlight the diverse expressions of creativity while underlining shared commonalities resulting from the historical amalgamation of European, indigenous and African cultures.
This is precisely what Coulson hoped the pop-up gallery's guests would get out of the exhibition, which featured works by legendary Bahamian artists like Eddie Minnis and Amos Ferguson along with younger artists like Jackson Petit, Kendra Frorup and Lillian Blades.
Estimating that 50 percent of the fiesta's visitors were locals with the other half comprised of international delegates, Coulson said "I hope that the local Cuban population, first of all, saw the great diversity and talent that we have in The Bahamas, but also that they saw that we share so many cultural points and that our histories are common and we can find mutual ground and understanding. This is especially at the fore as they open their doors, that we become friends and good neighbors."
In a nod to the festival's name - which can be translated to the Festival of Fire - the excitement culminates with a fire parade leading from the Plaza de Martes to the sea. There, the "burning of the devil" - the dramatic burning of an oversized figure woven from sticks - takes place to exorcise evil spirits and ensure the safety and prosperity of festival attendees until the next year.

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A delectable partnership

July 17, 2015

In the lead-up to Rum Bahamas Festival in February 2016, Guanima Press, Events by Alexandra and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas are joining forces to bring tid-bits and tastes of things to come with the seven-part "Though the Kitchen Door" series.
The 'talk and taste' events will feature talks by noted writer and anthropologist Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, whose studies and extensive knowledge of Bahamian culture will be complemented by samples of local cuisine prepared by acclaimed caterer, events manager and RumBahamas Founder Alexandra Maillis.
Hoping to offer guests deeper insight into the country's history and social developments, Glinton-Meicholas lamented the fact that much of the information presented on The Bahamas is "simplistic". Having travelled the country as a girl, spending time with her grandparents on various Family Islands, where her maternal grandfather was posted as a headmaster, she is today able to recall "a living Bahamian community that was not heavily influenced by the American presence, the growing tourism".
"I thought food would be an excellent medium through which to talk about Bahamian history, social history, the people who came here and what they contributed to us," she added.
Glinton-Meicholas is known for her comical and honest portrayals of Bahamian life and society with her "Talkin' Bahamian" and "True-True Bahamian" books. Her written works offer a glimpse into the relationship between Bahamian society and food through their examination of 'the peanut man' - a Bahamian 'fast food' source; the familiar roadside food trucks serving up affordable breakfasts like tuna and grits; and 'toting'.
Known for her tantalizing flavor fusions, Maillis argues that Bahamian cuisine is not a pure style of cooking, but a blend of 11 cuisines stemming from the African and European continents, U.K., East Asia, South Asia, Greece, the Creole world (which includes centers of French influence, like Haiti and Louisiana), the southern U.S., the Florida Keys, Latin Caribbean and Jamaica. It is her hope that, with Through the Kitchen Door and Glinton-Meicholas' discussion of our creolized heritage and history, "people get a deeper understanding of who we are, and develop a little bit more broadmindedness".
"I think it's exciting," she added. "The idea is to show that whole relationship and to make us open our minds a little bit about other cultures."
The first event of the series will take place this month and will focus on the ways the Lucayans and British and African ancestry have contributed to modern Bahamian society and cuisine. An example Glinton-Meicholas cites is the Bahamian fondness for baked treats as a penchant stemming from the country's former British leadership. This, she believes, can be contrasted with a local familiarity with root vegetables and groundnuts, such as cassava and peanuts, respectively, which have both been heavily used in Lucayan and West African cuisine.
"One of the things that I have an issue with is every time you try to talk about culture in this country, the first thing that comes up is Junkanoo, and Bahamian culture is more than that, and this is a way for us to show that than if we were to just write it in a book," explained Neko Meicholas. "It makes it more palatable to feed it to you, to demonstrate it to you, to show you your history and culture and marry it to food... I think people will remember it better and get a fuller experience of it when it is presented as we are hoping it is."
The first Through the Kitchen Door event will be held on July 30 at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. The talk and tastings begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $15 and can be purchased in advance at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

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Breathing more life into Historic Charles Towne

July 03, 2015

The newest update on the historic Charles Towne initiative comes this week from Graycliff Restaurant and Hotel's Paolo Gazaroli and Shannon Bruce, who look forward to unveiling 20 artists' studios housed in a former convent this summer.
A founding member of the Historic Charles Towne Association, Gazaroli has been involved in preserving and restoring the antique sites along West Hill Street in efforts to encourage international visitors and locals to take notice of the city's cultural and historical sites.
Amid a tourism market focused on mega-resorts and water parks, the Historic Charles Towne Association, aims to highlight the older gems often overlooked in the historic heart of Downtown Nassau. Alluding to the city's past, a stroll down any downtown street reveals old, colonial buildings, many of which were former homes.
Formerly known as Charles Towne in honor of the British king, Charles II, Nassau was renamed in 1695 for the prince of the house of Orange-Nassau, King William III.
The Historic Charles Towne district covers the area overlooking Nassau Harbour, up the hill from Cumberland Street and Baillou Hill Road on the eastern side to Nassau Street on the west.
"We are not the U.S., we are not Chinese products downtown. We're not cameras and jewelry and T-shirts," said Gazaroli. "That's not what The Bahamas is about, and when you go to a destination that has a historic part of town, that's the part that most of us go and visit. It's the original part."
Gazaroli estimates the "main" Graycliff building (the part of the compound which houses the restaurant and iconic wine cellar) to have been constructed sometime between 1729 and 1749. The convent, he believes, was originally constructed in the 1890s.
Situated next door to The Heritage Museum of The Bahamas and across the street from Graycliff, the studios are easily identified as one of the colorful renovations dotting West Hill Street. According to Bruce, it's important to the Graycliff team to "take great care in ensuring that we're restoring and revitalizing the original properties because we truly care about the original architecture of the property".
Of course, making sure people take time to enjoy the revamped buildings is all part of the game. Gazaroli believes that supporting the city's architectural ghosts can be one of the tickets the country needs to boosting its economy.
"The problem with Nassau is almost 50 percent of people who come here on cruise ships don't get off the ship. That is so terrible. We have one of the lowest spending [rates] in the Caribbean for two reasons. One, they say they've been there, done that and there's nothing to see. So we're trying to offer something new for them to see," he explained.
It can't be argued that Graycliff hasn't been doing its part in this regard. The compound features a pizzeria, stunning gardens and pool, legendary wine cellar cigar factory and chocolatier. Both the factory and chocolatier offer visitors the chance to make their own products.
According to the hotelier, this "make your own" business model will be continued in his future developments. Sooner than that, though, he envisions a building of 'living' studios, where passersby feel welcome to stop in and have a chat with onsite artists and artisans making everything from wood carvings and glass sculptures to jewelry, ceramic works and paintings.
The studios will be completed this month, and Graycliff is taking applications from artists practicing varied art forms for tenancies now. With 20 studios available at extremely affordable rates in an unbeatable location, Gazaroli anticipates a buzzing cultural hub.
One of the conditions is that the tenants will spend a considerable amount of time onsite to contribute to the center's authenticity. When opened, the venue's courtyard will be available for hire for private events; this, he believes, will only heighten its appeal as a heavily trafficked creative arena.
"One hundred and fifty to 200 people can be there for a cocktail party, and the artists will be in there, and it will be open. They can shop, browse, see the artwork, during the party," he explained.
He added "We're looking to empower the artists that don't have A) a venue, and B) any access directly to the consumer. So what we want to do is give them the opportunity to bridge that gap. If we all make money doing it, that's fantastic."
For more information on the studios or tenancy, contact Shannon Bruce at Graycliff on 302 9181.

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Soaking up sun and culture this July

June 26, 2015

In true standing with its mission to serve as much as a reservoir for cultural wealth as monetary wealth, Central Bank of The Bahamas is encouraging the general public to use the summer holidays as an opportunity to soak up both the sun and some of the best in Bahamian culture and fine art. The bank has demonstrated its commitment to developing fine artists for more than three decades.
Under the governance of T. Baswell Donaldson, in the 1980s it began investing in artwork to adorn its headquarters downtown. Wanting to further the bank's involvement in developing the country's art movement, then Central Bank Governor Sir William Allen enlisted the help of artist Antonius Roberts, who spearheaded the bank's annual competitions for high school students and artists under 26, respectively. In doing so, Central Bank hoped to encourage young Bahamians to pursue art while adding to its collection simultaneously.
Contest winners are selected by a panel of judges and receive cash prizes. Traditionally, the winning pieces of the High School and Open Category Competitions would also join the Central Bank collection. To encourage even more artists, the bank established its Governor's Choice Award (GCA). At each competition, the bank's governor selects his or her favorite piece, which then joins the bank's collection.
With hopes of offering a continuous display of artwork to the public, the bank went a step further and repurposed its reception area on Market Street and Trinity Place into a gallery space.
Continuing the mission, Central Bank is now encouraging locals to engage with other creative spaces; the bank has pledged to cover the cost of admission for Bahamians and residents throughout the month of July. In celebration of Bahamian independence, locals can demonstrate their patriotism by supporting Bahamian artists whose works are currently on display at the National Art Gallery. This is particularly true for younger and developing artists, who competed in the bank's competitions and whose works have joined the bank's collection.
"We would encourage more Bahamians to come away with a fuller appreciation for the arts--no matter what form, and really to see the arts as a worthwhile area to support, as the benefits go far beyond what is viewed--to the transformation and enrichment of our lives," said Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg.
During their visits, guests will have the opportunity to see samples of these works in the NAGB's temporary exhibition Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment. Celebrating 40 Years features artwork documenting the bank's history from its establishment to current day operations. The exhibition gives guests the opportunity to see early works from some of the country's foremost artists, like Antonius Roberts and Dionne Benjamin Smith. These are shown alongside works by up-and-coming creatives whose talents have won the hearts of bank judges and governors.
"The exhibition at the NAGB showcases the journey of Bahamian art and artists through the past 40 years," said Craigg. "It provides a unique opportunity for Bahamians to see works that are normally inaccessible to the public and to experience the cultural diversity and artistic richness of The Bahamas, through the eyes of a large number of signature Bahamian artists--many of whose works on display date back to their teenage years. This is quite an interesting historical perspective on the development and success of the visual arts in The Bahamas."
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Throughout the month of July, Bahamians and residents enjoy free access to the art galleries, every day of the week - except Monday, when the gallery is closed - courtesy of Central Bank of The Bahamas. To find out more about the NAGB, visit its website at www.nagb.org.bs or Facebook page, or call 328-5800.

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Carnival and the evolution of culture

June 26, 2015

Art speaks about where a country is as well as where it was. It is exciting to see how a country's art scene grows, develops and organically changes. The visual arts in the country have really undergone a transformation over the last 20 years. The field has developed internationally, but here it has developed in terms of the people who have become a part of it and the numbers of artists who are expressing themselves publicly, as well as the textures, vivacity, topics and nuances. We are who we are, and that will never change. What we do is often hide who we are because we think it is expedient to do so. However, who we are is revealed eventually.

Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival
The recent carnival festivities went off without any apparent hitches, except its being supported almost exclusively by a local market. What was fabulous was the art show organized by Antonius Roberts. It showed that carnival could be more than just about gyrating and twerking bodies on a road. Of course, carnival breeds this show of skin and sensuality. But that is what the Caribbean is known for, according to Mark Padilla in Caribbean Pleasure Industry. It is known for this, and this image will always create cultural conflict in a highly moralistically-policed nation, but so will Junkanoo. However, while the real money sunk into Carnival has yet to be revealed and the earnings have yet to be totaled, if they are ever... the artistic scene was incredible. Roberts' Hillside House was packed to the rafters with art from all generations and walks of life. It was simply a feast for the eye. It also showed how much Bahamian art and art created in The Bahamas has changed. It has mushroomed and encompasses so many varied vehicles of expression as well as bodies who are talking through art. John Beadle's piece at the entrance to the courtyard was simply brilliantly expressive of Carnival but also uniquely Bahamian and terrifically beautiful. Art transcends all the bickering about the place of Carnival. We may not be ready for this cultural change, but its machinery in other countries has proved so successful in generating dollars, that it will be hard for us to keep it at bay, given the government's sole interest in making money.
As culture shifts and artistic expression develops, when we try to control and to manufacture a culture, we actually work against the flow. In a nation at sea level, surrounded by water, we should know that swimming against the current is foolhardy, however, most people cannot swim. Thankfully even that is changing, although we still pay scarce attention to swimming and often choose to represent it as an elitist sport, we would benefit greatly by embracing it.
As the art scene has grown and developed, so too have our ways of expressing ourselves outside of that. We have suddenly embraced the concept of Carnival, and many people are happy and excited by this, but that does not mean it is authentically Bahamian. We staged what most would say was a truly terrific event, but that does not mean we must embrace it the same way we embrace Junkanoo, nor that it will replace Junkanoo. Junkanoo is also not the only manifestation of Bahamian culture that lives. It is simply reductive when we argue that Junkanoo is Bahamian culture, and if you do not support Junkanoo, you are not Bahamian. One can be Bahamian and support Goombay Summer, which is apparently no longer government sanctioned or backed, those resources have been transferred to Carnival. Why not decry that? Junkanoo, however, will remain a transforming Bahamian art form. It does not, however, delimit our artistic, cultural or personal expression. Our culture is resilient, as our emergence from slavery and colonialism can attest.

Cultural evolutions
The value of cultural resilience is beyond dispute, but we must remember that we have chosen to highlight what we want to see and to downplay all that we do not wish to see. It does not mean, though, that the downplayed or "invisible" does not exist. Government can sanction and back whatever it wishes to, but it does not control the development of culture nor art. In fact, culture develops in spite of restrictions. Artforms like graffiti often surface in direct contestation to government and official policy. Graffiti is usually an art of resistance that speaks of culture, it articulates youth angst and anger and criticizes unjust policies. It challenges poverty and gives poor people a voice, it also speaks on behalf of middle class youth who feel misunderstood and ignored. Language does the same thing and captures a reality that will change from one year to the next. We cannot contain culture nor can we constrain art. I think the NAGB's exhibition, Celebrating 40 Years of the Central Bank, which opened on June 2, shows this development and attests to the change that we live.
Further, as much as people resist cultural change, it happens. We now embrace the Fish Fry, but how many people saw that as a terrible development when it grew out of what was once abandoned land after Bahamas Customs' headquarters became too unsafe to occupy? That space has become a living, breathing expression of Bahamianness, and it is a space that tourists enjoy, but it is not a tourist space. Marina Village is a tourist space that locals enjoy, but it did not develop organically as Fish Fry did. Art and culture happen; they are not often manufactured. However, the manufactured product does sometimes threaten and ultimately replace the organic form, and we forget our organic cultural expression. This is similar to our distrust of burial societies in the postcolonial Bahamas, which grew out of an anti-African, anti-black thread present in colonialism. This can be rectified by embracing the black in us, along with everything else. Why do so many artistic depictions express this angst about our color and ethnicity if it does not exist?
Our art and culture scene is alive and vibrant, it is not challenged nor polluted by outsiders, as many people argue. Yes, Carnival will change our culture. Yes, it will change the way we live. And yes, it will push Bahamians to transform themselves. But that is the same as the government selloff of any available piece of land to foreign corporations. As the geography of home changes, so too does the way we live on the land.
While we tarry in our cultural defensiveness, art continues to be produced, culture continues to change, and the world we live in becomes irreparably altered by rescaping and rezoning. This, however, does not say that we should all run out and buy I Love Carnival T-shirts. Our culture has already changed; we just need to catch up. Carnival is as damaging as we allow it to be, but the art show orchestrated by Antonius Roberts as a companion to Carnival captured a vibrant artistic life that is, simply put, fabulous. We are moving onto new heights, let's begin to soar and see how much higher we will go, rather than remain pinned to a reality that has already ceased to exist but which lives in our fantasies.

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What's on at the NAGB

June 19, 2015

The National Art Gallery Mixed Media Art Summer Camp kicks off its first session bright and early on Monday morning. Looking forward to a jam-packed three weeks, the NAGB team will be exposing campers ages five to 15 to at least three different art forms over the course of each three-week session. For those who missed the chance to register for the first session, space is still available for the second session, which runs July 13 to 31. Contact Abby Smith or Corinne Lampkin at 328-5800 for more information.
Next Thursday at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas sculptor Andret John presents a talk on his contribution to the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden. Initiated by artist Willicey Tynes and backed by The Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation (BREEF), the underwater park features artificial reef structures and snorkel trails. Along the way, sightseers can take in oversized sculptures, linking visual art with marine conservation. According to BREEF, the garden expands the foundation's mission to address threats to The Bahamas' coral reef systems. All members of the public are invited to attend the talk, which starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 25.
The NAGB also announces the start of its programming series for its newest exhibition, Celebrating 40 Years of the Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment. On July 14, a panel discussion on the bank's mission to serve as both a reservoir of wealth and culture will be held at the NAGB. Panelists will discuss the reasons behind the bank's commitment to highlight the importance of fine art and develop the country's visual art community. The history of the development of the bank's art competitions and its growing collection will also be addressed. All members of the public are invited to attend free of charge. To find out more, contact Corinne Lampkin at 328-5800.
All Bahamians can benefit from Central Bank's dedication to fine art next month, as the bank covers the cost of admission for locals to visit the National Art Gallery. Normally free every Sunday for residents, locals will be able to visit the NAGB every day of the week
without charge throughout the month of July. In the spirit of Bahamian independence Central Bank has pledged to cover the cost of each guest's visit - usually $7 for adults and $5 for students 12 and over - from July 1 to 31.
At the NAGB, visitors will have the opportunity to take in samples from the bank's collection, including artwork collected during the tenure of T. Baswell Donaldson, the bank's first governor. Informative wall text giving historical context to the works and the bank's annual competitions initiated by Sir William Allen and Antonius Roberts provides guests with an opportunity to find out more about the country's main wealth reservoir.
"The Central Bank is honored to cover the public's admission to NAGB for the month of July, to view the exhibits at the gallery, especially the exhibit celebrating 40 years of central banking in The Bahamas and our commitment to the arts. We view the bank's more than 400 works of art as an important component of The Bahamas' cultural capital; and the bank's commitment to and involvement in the development and support of local art and artists continues to be a part of a deeper national commitment to Bahamian excellence," said Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg.
Finally, in collaboration with Events by Alexandra and Guanima Press Limited, the NAGB will present a series of culinary experiences at the gallery. The first experience is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 30; titled "Through the Kitchen Door: A culinary perspective of Bahamian history and culture", the evening will feature a talk by Patricia Glinton-Meicholas and food tasting provided by Alexandra Maillis-Lynch. Attendees are asked to make a donation of $15 each on the evening, and all are welcome.
To find out more about upcoming NAGB events and talks, contact the gallery at 328-5800.

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Taking a new look at the everyday landscape with the artwork of the month

June 19, 2015

Clive Stuart's "Cock A Doodle Do" is the June artwork of the month. A part of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas' (NAGB) permanent exhibition, Bahamian Domestic, the work is comprised of two separate but complementing mixed-media pieces showing the familiar sights of an inner city community.
The piece was selected by NAGB intern and education assistant Christina Wong. Also a COB art student, Wong joined the NAGB team as a temporary assistant during the installation of the NAGB's newest temporary exhibition, Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment. Though the show opened on June 2, Wong has stuck with the NAGB staff in preparation for the gallery's Mixed Media Art Summer Camp, which opens Monday.
Using her time as a staff assistant wisely, Wong has gotten her feet wet in the day to day activities involved in events planning and keeping a gallery operational. Taking a break from stretching canvases for campers, Wong selected a June artwork of the month. "Cock A Doodle Do" often catches the eyes of younger visitors, who identify the paintings' imagery with ease. One of the pieces sports a dog - categorized quickly by onlookers as one of the class of local mixed breeds, known as "potcakes" and a multitude of small homes crammed into a small space. For Wong, it is reminiscent of older times, though the pair was completed in 2006.
"To me it looks like it's based on the old Nassau, because the houses are so close. I feel as though back then everybody was closer, their houses were in the same yard, because a lot of people weren't able to afford a different property, so most families would be on the same property."
Even though it might remind her of times gone, the scenes found in "Cock A Doodle Do" can be seen on any drive down a back road in the Over the Hill community. Stuart makes room in his paintings to feature familiar backyard landscapes clothes sway on a line in the breeze; a native chicken calls attention to itself, reminding onlookers of the domestic birds that can often be found straying from their roosts, pecking at the roadside.
Through their construction and alignment, the works might be interpreted as windows looking out from one of the paintings' modest homes. At the base of the canvas is wood paneling, a common construction material found in many an inner city home. The effect of "Cock A Doodle Do" is one that allows visitors to envision being inside one of these familiar houses, possibly elevated by limestone blocks, looking out on a small Nassuvian community.
To see "Cock A Doodle Do" and more artworks of the month, visit the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Located on West and West Hill Streets, the gallery offers free admission to locals every Sunday; throughout the month of July, locals can visit the gallery free of charge every day, as Central Bank of The Bahamas covers the cost of admission in the spirit of Bahamian independence.

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All in the family

June 12, 2015

It's fairly common to hear of a family tradition or business fading out over generations. Mom and pop shops close down and family dinners become a thing of the past as siblings make decisions for their individual futures. For the Burnsides, though, the drive to create, preserve and promote visual art seems as fixed as shared genetics.
This becomes especially apparent as established and celebrated artist Stan Burnside and his daughter, emerging ceramicist Brooke, prepare to present their first joint show next week.
Titled Around and Back Again, the exhibition responds to the figurative and literal returns experienced by both artists.
"I thought of the title because all of my pieces come back to where they begin," explained Brooke, whose body of sculpted works features a series of never ending looping designs. This symbolism is personal for both father and daughter, she explained.
"It's my dad's return to using color since his last show, and, I started ceramics after coming back to The Bahamas after being abroad for a few years."
The show features the younger Burnside's first fully completed body of works. With years of exercising a natural capacity for visual design both at home and in the States under her belt, she took part in Harvard Graduate School of Design's summer architecture program in 2013. It was there,
she said, that she began contemplating working with clay.
"When I was making those projects, I was thinking, 'How can I create this in clay?' So that's what whet my appetite for working with my hands more."
Having spent time studying the craft in her earlier years under artists Sue Bennett-Williams, Joann Behagg and Jessica Colebrook, she felt comfortable using the medium to experiment in balance and style. Burnside credits Colebrook with providing particularly helpful guidance during the development of the 16 sculpted pieces to be shown in Around and Back Again.
Her hard work has paid off and with a proud father's approval.
"I think her (Brooke's) work is really extraordinary," said Stan Burnside. "When you look at it, the pieces look like they are public-scale works, and they
function beautifully as keepsakes. I think what you can get out of the work is a young Bahamian artist who has an incredible sense of design, who is exploring a new way of using her medium and having fun with it."
As the younger Burnside prepares for her next development - pursuing a degree in architectural studies - her father's newest body of works illustrates another personal journey. The renowned painter's last exhibition was a tribute to his late brother and fellow artist Jackson Burnside. The works in that show were virtually colorless. In Around and Back Again, visitors can once again experience the celebratory and vivacious hues so often found in the Junkanooer's works.
For both artists, the opportunity to show their works together indicates a transgenerational family bond and talent.
"It's the first time I've ever shown with my daughter and I'm very, very honored that she has allowed me to show with her. I'm very impressed with the works that she has done," said Stan Burnside.
"To be shown with my dad is a huge honor, and I'm very grateful for it," said Brooke Burnside. "I know it's a very particular opportunity to be able to show with him. I want to take advantage of that."
Recognizing the opportunity as one that has encouraged her to find her feet in creating and managing her very own series of works, she added "It's the first time I'm showing something I feel is really my own; these ideas were really just mine and I worked through them myself."
Around and Back Again will be on display at the Stan Burnside Gallery on Thursday, June 18. Viewings can be made by appointment, and there will be a closing reception and viewing on June 25. To make an appointment, call 324-7397.

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Reminiscing at Doongalik Studios with Allan Pratt

June 12, 2015

This week Bahamian-born self-taught artist Allan Pratt shows his creative abilities extend far beyond the kitchen in a solo art exhibition at Doongalik Studios. Titled His-Story, the show features paintings of well-known historic buildings and landmark and is a diversion from the pastry chef's usual ice and fruit carvings and dessert show pieces.
Inspired by the works of artists like Eddie Minnis, Brent Malone and Chan Pratt, he in recent days has swapped out measuring cups for oil paints and a nostalgia for older times.
The show's title and those of its works, he explained, were chosen to remind us as a nation from "whence we came". Reflecting on more peaceful and community-oriented times, he also highlights idyllic landscapes and beautiful architecture.
His goal, he said is to provide each patron with his or her own piece of "Bahamian history"; with this in mind, he makes no prints, duplicates or giclee reproductions of his artwork.
His-Story can currently be seen at Doongalik Studios on Village Road. Gallery hours are Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, contact the gallery at doongalikart@batelnet.bs.

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The team behind the scenes

May 29, 2015

With two new exhibitions fast approaching, the team at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is thrilled to welcome 50/50, the first show of the Double Dutch Project, and Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment, which both open on Tuesday, June 2.
The Double Dutch project is an ongoing commitment to exhibit the works of two artists - one from The Bahamas and the other from another nation in the region - in a two-person show at the NAGB. In this instance, Bahamian Blue Curry, and Bermudian James Cooper have agreed to unite for the first iteration of Double Dutch. The goal of Double Dutch is to bring local and regional artists -- who may be divided by distance or language but share common histories -- together by encouraging them to work with a group of ideas that hone in on personal, political and social trends specific to the West Indies.
Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank will highlight the role Central Bank of The Bahamas has played in developing the country's visual arts community since its founding. The exhibition will showcase over 80 works by 72 artists featured in Central Bank's extensive art collection.
If the gallery's last opening night - held December 11, 2014 to welcome in the Seventh National Exhibition (NE7) - is any indication, there is likely to be a buzzing atmosphere and full house of guests. Working hard behind the scenes to promise a stunning show, the NAGB is giving an insider's peek at curatorship and the planning, constructing and designing that go into a gallery's polished finish.
The planning stages of large gallery shows usually begin months, if not years, in advance - with researching of university proportions. Some shows, like NE7, put out calls for proposals for work in line with the exhibition's theme. Others involve borrowing existing works from collectors and/or selecting fitting works from the gallery's collection. In either case, research is a necessary component of most gallery exhibitions in order to explain their relevance in contemporary society.
Record-keeping is another vital curatorial skill. Show curators are charged with compiling lists of potential artworks along with their owners; receiving the pieces; recording their dimensions, damages and respective values; taking owners' details and storing the works responsibly until installation. It may also be at the receiving stage that each work is photographed professionally for the exhibition catalogue.
De-installation is often the next step that kicks off the two to three weeks between exhibitions. The prettiest facet of taking down an existing show is making contact with owners of artwork and returning their respective pieces or storing them appropriately. Much of the labor-intensive process involves toolkits, puttying holes, scraping walls and heavy lifting until the gallery space is cleared.
The gap between shows is reminiscent of a carefully choreographed dance with many moving parts. While de-installation is taking place, details like wall colors and logo designs may be finalized. The placement of works - a critical point in the process - involves hours of purposefully staring at walls. Preparators determine spacing between artworks, appropriate hanging height and the size and number of pieces to be shown on each wall. Grouping works into rooms by sub-theme or scene is also common practice, and explaining the analytical process behind this organization to gallery visitors is another of the curator's many responsibilities.
When curatorial essays and explanatory wall text are completed and their respective decals ordered, walls are painted and work placement has been finalized, the installation begins. The curatorial team hangs or places works and wall text of the show's curatorial essay and explanatory blurbs. Digital media equipment is put in place and tested, lighting is triple checked and the show's functioning and flow are purveyed before its grand unveiling.
To keep up to date on the NAGB's upcoming shows and life inside the gallery on a day-to-day basis, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheNAGB.

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Art Supply Drive pays off for students and schools

May 29, 2015

Opening next week at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB), Art Supply Drive - the community-driven initiative founded by Orchid Burnside and Jordia Benjamin - will proudly host its second annual exhibition in the gallery's project space.
Launched in 2013 with the intention of overcoming inaccessibility to fine art education, Art Supply Drive (ASD) supplies art resources to public schools whose budgets make little room for sufficient supplies in their respective art departments. With the knowledge that high costs of art materials often deter students from pursuing their interests in the subject matter, Burnside and Benjamin hope to relieve a portion of the burden by collecting new or gently used art supplies, as well as direct donations, to facilitate the students' creative development.
Each August, ASD selects three schools - a junior high school and senior high school based on New Providence, and a school on a Family Island - to be its beneficiaries. For the 2014/2015 school year, ASD selected R.M. Bailey, C.H. Reeves and Central Andros High School to be the drive's recipients.
At the end of the school year, ASD backs an exhibition at the National Art Gallery featuring works created by exceptional art students who benefitted from the drive. Having applied themselves throughout the school year, the students' efforts will now pay off - literally - in the show opening on Thursday, June 4.
Students' works will be on sale at the exhibition with one-third of the proceeds going to the students themselves, one-third going to their respective schools and the remaining amount going to ASD in hopes of funding another year of young artistic development.
The exhibition offers a significant opportunity for one student in particular. The talents and dedication of Central Andros student Annyka Mackey have earned her a ticket to Nassau, where she and art teacher Sonia Gibson will tour local galleries with Burnside before attending the opening night.
The exhibition opens at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4 at the NAGB, and ASD welcomes the public's support.
To find out more about Art Supply Drive, or to make a donation to the project, contact Orchid Burnside at 394-1886 or doongalikart@batelnet.bs or Corinne Lampkin at clampkin@nagb.org.bs.

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Doongalik Studios' features Trevor Tucker in a solo show

May 29, 2015

Doongalik Studios recently welcomed the opening of its newest exhibition - Potcakin', by painter Trevor Tucker.
Nassau-born Tucker works as an artist and teacher. In 2012, he expanded his horizons into the commercial sale of his art with the creation of his business, Trevor Tucker Original Bahamian Art. Tucker attributes his style to the influence of fellow artists and artforms, which include stained glass.
Potcakin' is a combination of these styles that have helped him to grow as an artist. Living in a country rich in natural beauty exposes Tucker to a constant source of inspiration. His preferential focus, therefore, is mainly on nature and animal-based themes. These images are usually captured with strong compositions, expressive brush strokes and a bright color palette. Potcakin' is an uplifting exhibition highlighting the natural Bahamian environment in many forms.
The exhibition will be on display at Doongalik Studios on Village Road until Saturday June 6. Gallery hours are Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, contact the gallery at doongalikart@batelnet.bs or telephone the artist at 424-1878.

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NAGB celebrates Central Bank of The Bahamas

May 22, 2015

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas NAGB has seen the ending of another prominent show - The Seventh National Exhibition, Antillean: an Ecology. A success by most measures, the exhibition provoked discussions about race, class, economy, privilege and gender from students at the primary level to senior generations. It transcended cultural and societal barriers to get people thinking about the intangible, but longstanding, barriers hindering the country's unity and progression.
Now the NAGB looks forward to opening its upcoming temporary exhibition, Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment.
Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment will highlight the role Central Bank of The Bahamas has played in developing the country's visual arts community since its founding. Organizers intend the show to commemorate Central Bank's commitment to serving as a reservoir of wealth in both financial and cultural spheres. The exhibition will showcase over 80 works by 72 artists featured in Central Bank's extensive art collection. Curated by NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, the show opens on June 2.

History
Central Bank of The Bahamas was established in 1974, and under the governance of T. Baswell Donaldson, it began investing in artwork to adorn its headquarters downtown.
By the bank's 10th anniversary in 1984, it already held a reasonable collection, with works by the early pioneers of Bahamian art, like Eddie Minnis, R. Brent Malone and Max Taylor. The bank's governor during those years, Sir William Allen, is remembered as a prominent supporter of the visual arts in The Bahamas. Under his leadership, Villa Doyle was purchased as the grounds for the future National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. He noted, during his term in office, that though many Bahamians were acquiring symbols of wealth during the economic boom, art was not included in the schema of markers of success the way that cars and clothing were; many Bahamian artists were still struggling.
With hopes of offering a continuous display of artwork to the public, the bank repurposed its reception area on Market Street and Trinity Place into a gallery space.
Establishing two annual competitions for high school students and artists under 26, respectively, Central Bank hoped to encourage young Bahamians to pursue art while adding to its collection simultaneously. Contest winners would receive cash prizes and have their work join the Central Bank collection.
The contests and gallery brought attention to art creation and collection and made a public statement about the importance of visual art in community.In 1984, noted artist Antonius Roberts was announced as the first Central Bank curator - a position he held for 10 years. It was his job to oversee the competition and exhibition space. Through his and his successors' work, the names and work of hundreds, if not thousands, of developing Bahamian artists came to public attention. Roberts has since returned to serve as the bank's curator.

Legacy
Today, the Central Bank high school and open category competitions continue to inspire the development of groundbreaking artists.
The talents of Jace McKinney, whose remarkable "Where is He Going, Where Has He Been" piece won the 2012 Central Bank Open Category Competition and now stands in the NAGB's permanent exhibition; it continues to wow gallery visitors on a regular basis.
Another young Bahamian who has benefited from the bank's commitment to fine art collection and promotion is Central Bank Assistant Curator Jodi Minnis. A young artist herself, Minnis works alongside Roberts as the Central Bank curatorial assistant. She is also known for her work with the NAGB as the gallery's assistant.
Jackson Petit is a third example of an artist linked to both the NAGB and Central Bank. The painter has worked in the NAGB's curatorial and digital media departments for 10 years. He jumpstarted his creative career early on with his "Nature Intertwined" piece, which won the bank's high school competition in 2001. In 2011, he won the bank's open competition with his "Beautiful Monsters" work. Both pieces will be featured in the upcoming exhibition at the NAGB.
Lavar Munroe, whose pieces are currently on display at the renowned Venice Biennale, also got his foot in the door with "My Love, My Passion, My Art" - a youthful experimentation that won him the 2003 open competition. He won again in 2009 with "You Must Be Wondering The Type of Creature I Am". These works will also be on display in Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank.
Roshanne Minnis Eyma and sister Nicole Minnis, who both recently exhibited at the NAGB in The Minnis-Eyma family exhibition, Creation's Grace, are among the many names of noteworthy Central Bank artists.
"The art show at the Central Bank of the Bahamas really helped to launch my career in art. I started competing at age 14, and it encouraged me to start producing professional work while still in high school. It gave me the validation and exposure I needed at the time to become a serious artist. I am forever grateful," said Minnis-Eyma.

The exhibition
At Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment, visitors will art representing the bank's history and its outstanding service to Bahamian art. Guests can look forward to experiencing works celebrating everyday Bahamian living. The bank's extensive collection of early development works including etches, photographs and drawings by now well-known artists in their early beginnings will also play a starring role in the show, and the exhibition's figure section will emphasize recognizable figures, like national pastimes in R. Brent Malone's "Junkanoo Cowbeller" and heritage in Erin Treco's "African Woman".
Celebrating 40 Years of The Central Bank: A Pillar of Arts Commitment opens at 6 p.m. on June 2 at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Also that night, the inaugural exhibition of the Double Dutch project, 50/50, starring works by Blue Curry and Bermudian artist James Cooper will open at the NAGB. For more information on the NAGB's upcoming exhibitions, contact the gallery at 328-5800 or visit its website at nagb.org.bs

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John Cox's works and Dawn Davies collection star at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation

May 22, 2015

The D'Aguilar Art Foundation is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Balance/Reflection, featuring works by John Cox that have found a home in the expansive Dawn Davies collection.
For John Cox, balance is not so much a goal as a constant exercise in conscious creativity. Engaging the lifecycle of balance -- struggle, transcendence and acceptance -- he often manifests in his artwork a sense of a spiritual journey. His sculptural chairs and tables; emblematic objects; and images of struggle, love or desire offer reflections of our own cycles.
Designed to integrate into a home-life, John Cox's work has found the perfect home at Callaloo, Dawn Davies' home. Davies has collected artwork since 1969, and although her collection exceeds her wall and floor space now, she lives with an abundance of artwork, John's included. Davies knows the works intimately, having now lived with them longer than the artist themselves. She designs pedestals and plinths, marries works together in surprising ways and places them in spaces that have personal meaning, which, in turn, gives the work new layers and values.
The D'Aguilar Art Foundation is delighted to present a selection of John Cox's work spanning from his days as a student at Rhode Island School of Design to the present. These are pieces that Davies has curated into her life, offering the public a look at the union of these two committed practices: the making of art and the nurturing of art.
Balance/Reflection will be on display at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation from May 26 to August 13. The D'Aguilar Art Foundation is located on Virginia Street and is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by prior arrangement.

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