August 21, 2015
On Thursday, August 27, 2015, one artist and one musician will take to Pompey Square for an 8-hour live art and music showcase. Dubbed "Freestyle: Outside the Lines pt. 1," Allan P. Wallace, of recent celebrity salt portraiture fame, and Arthol Gibson, local hip-hop and chill house DJ, also known as Ampero, hope to raise funds in support of two very worthy causes.
Both artists recognize the importance of giving back to their respective artistic communities and helping make things a little bit easier for the next generation of young Bahamian creatives. Chosen as beneficiaries of the event will be the Art Supply Drive, which raises gently used or new art materials to ease the financial burden of art students in the government school system. The Rhythym 'N' Youth Rake & Scrape Ensemble, born out of Gerald Cash Primary School, is another fantastic initiative led by Nathaniel Adams that ensures the cultural sustainability of our most precious traditional musical expression.
According to Wallace, "I want to give back [... and at this event] I'm going to be out there wildin' out, just painting. That's why I wanted to be a part of it. Freestyle should be about changing the energy of the downtown space, creating positive vibes and connecting with the wider community." Members of the public are invited to bring a brush and jam with the artist and also donate materials on site for the Art Supply Drive.
On the music side, DJ Ampero expects to surprise the audience with his range of musical taste as well as with guests performers who will visit throughout the day, including the talented Rhythm 'N' Youth ensemble. Ampero envisions that, "the next generation [of Bahamian musicians] will have so many opportunities and avenues available to them. I see things just getting a bit more amplified with people seeing more opportunities to tap into their creative value and expressing themselves."
While the future is bright for both these artists, they're heading back to the school next week to creative a positive impact. Transforming the square into their old art & music classrooms, the event should bring a touch of nostalgia to those who've long left these rooms behind. The event will be held from 11am - 7pm and is free and open to the public. For more information on the event, please visit facebook.com/supplyartbs.
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August 18, 2015
The Ministry of Tourism, Grand Bahama Island, made a special presentation of funds to local Junkanoo groups at the Ministry of Tourism’s office, August 17. Junkanoo groups have partnered with Tourism to display Junkanoo culture at the Junkanoo Summer Festivals in West Grand Bahama – in the communities of Eight Mile Rock and West End. Groups were given seed money to assist with the grand finale on August 21 and 22. Seated from left are: Elaine Smith, Ministry of Tourism; Nuvolari Chotoosingh, Ministry of Tourism; Allison Smith, Junkanoo Chairman-G.B.; Standing from left: Terry Wildgoose, Showtime; Chauncy Gray, Superstar Rockers; Edney Sherman, Kingdom Culture; and Creighton Moxey, Western Star Titans. (Photo/BIS)
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August 15, 2015
In a show of its support for young Bahamian artists, The D'Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF) will welcome upcoming exhibition Flourish on Thursday, August 27. Featuring the works of developing artists Ivanna Gaitor, Alistair Stevenson and Angelika Wallace-Whitfield, Flourish will offer the artists an opportunity to show their skills development since the beginnings of their respective university careers.
A show with decidedly international flair, Flourish will be an amalgamation of media and artistic style; the exhibition will feature the most recent works of the artists, who are, during the academic year, spread across the globe in China, the U.K. and U.S.
The suggestion of a group show was posed by DAF Curator Tessa Whitehead and Director Saskia Schutte-D'Aguilar, who hoped to offer the students an opportunity to sustain themselves through their artistry. Flourish - a name conjured up by Gaitor - will serve as a fundraiser for the students' academic and living expenses while abroad.
Both Stevenson and Wallace-Whitfield have roots at the DAF, where they worked prior to pursuing studies abroad. Gaitor hails from Abaco and was a 2014 recipient of the PopopStudios Junior Residency prize.
"We applaud the efforts that Alistair, Angelika and Ivanna have made to further their education in the arts and are well aware of the tremendous amount of work and money required to attend tertiary institutions abroad. One of the ways that we felt we could support them as they embark on another year of their studies, is by hosting Flourish, where they can sell their varied and inspired works," said Schutte-D'Aguilar.
"'Flourish' seemed best fitting to describe the state of growth that we are each undergoing, in not only our personal lives, but also our artistic practices as we study our respective disciplines abroad," explained the artist who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in advertising at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Going into her sophomore year at SCAD, the show gives Gaitor an opportunity to stay active on the Bahamian art scene.
"I believe that it's important to stay connected as I develop and as the local art community develops," she said.
Gaitor's abstract pieces will be easily identified in the exhibition. A collection of geometric shapes - largely triangles - and linear drawings, the artist's work will show an evolution from her earlier study on perfection.
"If lines represented our lives, we would always desire for them to be crisp, clean - and always progressing toward something. In my body of work I've combined these two elements to create their own conversation," explained the student.
At Flourish, Gaitor hopes visitors will be encouraged to interpret her work subjectively, creating their own meaning from the conceptual pieces.
I'm always humbled and grateful when I'm given the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas through my work, and me exhibiting at the DAF is a platform to do just that," she said.
Making up another part of the trio is ceramicist Alistair Stevenson, who is home on summer break from Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute in Jingdezhen, China. Having recently completed a four-week stint as the first artist in residence of Exnihilo Art Center, Stevenson looks forward to showing off his newest creations in Flourish.
As part of his resident artist package, Stevenson was offered a budget of $1,000 to be used toward the acquisition of artist materials. Because the program was hosted at the College of The Bahamas, Stevenson had access to the college's entire ceramics department and necessary facilities like potter's wheels, a kiln and slab rollers. All this provided the artist with the means to create a strong body of works he can be proud to present at the DAF.
In Flourish, Stevenson hopes supporters of his work will be able to note the stylistic and conceptual evolutions his art has undergone since his studies began.
"I want to express to the viewers what skills and concepts I have attained while studying in China combined with expressions of Bahamian culture," he explained.
Carrying on with themes of mythology - at his last solo show at the DAF, the Lusca of the blue holes in Andros was heavily represented - Stevenson has this time incorporated fantastical Chinese creatures.
He foretold: "Guests should expect a combination of both Bahamian and Chinese mythology via manifestations of the blue-hole lurking Lusca chasing and nearly enveloping the pearl often chased by the Chinese dragon."
According to the artist, that pearl is representative of strength and courage, and capturing it symbolizes achieving those qualities. He hopes that the exhibition's visitors "understand the value and reward of chasing after one's dreams and doing so through diligence and hard work".
Former DAF Curator Wallace-Whitfield sees the show as an opportunity to demonstrate her gratitude toward those who supported her in her last solo show at the DAF, also a fundraiser for her first year of studies at the University of Kent.
"Returning after my first year abroad and reflecting on my year, left me feeling nothing but gratitude toward all of the generous donors and patrons who have allowed me to be one step closer to achieving my goals," she said. "I hope to convey that through my work."
Wallace Whitfield's recent work has been influenced heavily by the local Poinciana trees, which blossomed this past July. In her pieces, visitors will find comparisons between the trees and donors and scholarship supporters who provide support for many Bahamian students to pursue their academic dreams abroad.
She explained: "The Poinciana trees' explosive color doesn't leave room to be ignored. I began drawing a comparison between the nature and role of the Poinciana trees on our island and the generous donors that allow for us to attend university abroad. Within the contents of the show, I attempt to reveal the similarities of the two, who give annually and willingly, without delay or expectation."
Much of her work in the show is purposefully left unfinished. She hopes that, in doing so, visitors will come to appreciate the process involved in the creation of her work. She expects that leaving such 'stories' open will allow the imaginations of the audience to become engaged in filling in blank spaces.
With the proceeds of her show backing her, Wallace-Whitfield will return to Kent in the fall to continue her undergraduate studies in the philosophy of art and culture.
"Angelika, Ivanna and Alistair are all tremendously gifted artists, and their creations are sure to delight and surprise both established and novice collectors," said Schutte-D'Aguilar, who welcomed the public to support the up-and-coming artists by viewing Flourish at the DAF on August 27.
The D'Aguilar Art Foundation is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., or by appointment. To find out more about the foundation or Flourish, call 322-2323.
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August 07, 2015
Continuing with what seems to be a trend highlighting local artistry and talents, Sandyport Beaches Resort and Hotel recently commissioned Bahamian artist Attila Feszt to complete a large-scale public mural livening up the pathway leading to the beach and Blue Sail Restaurant. Depicting sea life in tropical hues, the work fits in appropriately with its surroundings, as the Sandyport canal is known as a habitat for occasional aquatic visitors, who include manatees and stingrays. The piece is easily the largest public artwork in the Sandyport community and occupies a space 12' tall and 90' wide.
The idea came from Hotel President Rowena Jones, whose leadership has seen the resort incorporate designs from local fabric factory and boutique, Bahama Hand Prints, and signage from Abaco-based multimedia artist Kim Roberts.
Known for his work reflecting The Bahamas' natural surroundings - and, more specifically, those of his hometown, Hope Town, Abaco - Feszt finds inspiration in the everyday and elements of his natural environment, like wildlife and plants.
"Normally when I'm on my way to go surfing I take special care to see what stands out, and will come back and do sketches of ideas," he explained.
In creating work, his objective is to show "things that give a similar feel as the more traditional art, but showing it in a different way that lets you appreciate it from another perspective. I enjoy looking at simple elements of the landscape rather than the entire landscape."
The mural is not Feszt's first. The artist was commissioned previously by National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Director Amanda Coulson and former NAGB Chief Curator John Cox to complete the work jazzing up walls at the gallery's Mixed Media store. His talents have also been recruited on a private basis and internationally; he has completed several murals at Playa Grande Surf Camp based in Costa Rica.
"Working from a sketchbook or computer is no comparison, scale-wise, to a huge mural. It really opens up your creativity and encourages you to work from a different headspace," he said.
The enjoyment of working on a large piece was not the only way he benefited from participating in the project. Voted one of New Providence's top resort, the Sandyport hotel is a popular choice for visitors, and the public work will ensure that Feszt continues to gain significant exposure with both locals and international guests.
"Resort guests would walk by daily on their way to the beach, and stop and admire it and offer encouraging words. And every day they would see more progress and comment on that too," he recalled. "Also, all the boaters leaving Sandyport would shout out their appreciation. It was hard work, as I was on a tight deadline, and hearing that really kept my motivation up."
In a nod to the Sandyport Resort's and community's atmosphere of seaside tranquility, Feszt's piece offers an easy and calming sample of Bahamian art and complementing design element.
His others works can be found at the NAGB Mixed Media shop, Sandyport salon Studio Vivo and Marsh Harbour coffee house Bliss.
To find out more about the artist, visit his website www.maeter.com.
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August 07, 2015
This month, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) had the pleasure of a visit by renowned Bahamian artist Max Taylor. Called one of the country's foremost 'master artists', multimedia artist Taylor has been an invaluable member of the country's visual arts community for decades. During that time, he has produced exquisite prints, paintings and ceramic works, many of which are on display at the NAGB and for sale in its Mixed Media gift shop.
While at the gallery, Taylor took a few minutes to select the August Art Work of the Month, "Let There Be Order", by Allan Wallace.
A former student of Taylor, Wallace's talents can be found both within the walls of the NAGB, in the NAGB permanent exhibition Bahamian Domestic, and on the gallery's exterior, where his mural adorns an annex wall space. The artwork of the month can be found in the northwest room of Bahamian Domestic and is part of the National Collection.
An elaborate and detailed piece, the work was completed by humble ballpoint pens on paper and never fails to wow high-school students, who are fascinated by the oversized 'doodle'.
While many pieces in Bahamian Domestic catch the eyes of onlookers with their outstanding color usage, the black and white "Let There Be Order" easily holds its own with layers of imagery and skillful shading that offer its viewers striking depth. In the work, vine-like twists are intertwined with imagery of faces and abstract shapes, giving the illusion of a three-dimensional work.
"There's a lot going on, but the rendition of it is done very well in terms of the technique and texture that he has in here," observed Taylor.
"I think the technical capacity, in terms of penmanship, is very unusual," he added.
For Taylor, the otherworldly work evokes thoughts of science fiction films and is as mythical as it is meticulous. And, despite acknowledging that much of his known work is realistic, Wallace said he finds more satisfaction in completing such transcendental and free-flowing pieces.
"I'm most satisfied as an artist when I'm doing that free-flow type of work where I don't know here it's going to end but I'm allowing the abilities that I possess to present something to the viewer that is kind of wonderful to look at," he explained. "'Let There Be Order' is kind of like ordered chaos. My mind is all over the place. I'm thinking all kinds of different things, but because of my ability, I'm able to design it in a way that is actually pleasing to the eye, harmoniously."
To see "Let There Be Order" and works by Taylor himself, visit the NAGB's Bahamian Domestic.
The NAGB is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Every Sundays, locals can enjoy all the gallery has to offer completely free of charge. Contact the NAGB at 328-5800 for more information.
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July 31, 2015
Back on summer break from Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute in Jingdezhen, China, ceramicist Alistair Stevenson has found ways to keep himself busy as the first artist in resident of Exnihilo Art Center.
Founded by Brian and Blair Anderson and their son, Daniel, who moved to Long Island, Bahamas, from the States, Exnihilo is a non-profit based in The Bahamas and U.S. Since its founding on Long Island, the program has sought to provide artists with an environment conducive to creative exploration while offering a platform for connectivity and intercultural dialogue.
A focal point of the program is residency experiences, which are currently offered in the Washington DC Metro area and Nassau, Bahamas. New Providence-based partners Michael Edwards and Katrina Cartwright organize the Nassau residency program. A residency on Long Island, Bahamas is also in the works.
Growing up on Long Island, Stevenson first experimented with ceramics as a student at N.G.M. Major High School, Long Island, when a local cesspit excavation revealed clay in the area and handed it over to the school's art teacher. It was around that time that he first met local ceramicist and philanthropist Joann Behagg, who traveled to Long Island from Nassau to conduct a ceramics workshop at Stevenson's school. Later, while he studied at the College of The Bahamas (COB), Behagg recruited him as her studio assistant. For four years, Stevenson worked and studied under her, leaving only for a job at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF) in 2012. He has since made a name for himself, holding several shows on New Providence to fund his studies abroad.
His talents caught the attention of Cartwright and Edwards, who approached Stevenson, asking him to be the first Exnihilo artist in residence.
Stevenson's four-week residency began in mid-July and is hosted by COB at a time when the college moves toward attaining university status.
"We thought The College of The Bahamas would be an advantageous starting point for an initial pilot space to embark upon in The Bahamas," said Edwards, who is also a COB art lecturer. "...There is a particular collective visioning for an arts complex to become a major regional hub."
As part of his resident artist package, Stevenson has been offered a budget of $1,000 to be used toward the acquisition of artist materials. And, with COB's entire ceramics department at his fingertips, he now has access to necessary facilities like a potter's wheel, kiln and slab rollers.
This is particularly important, because Stevenson intends on using the work he creates during his residency to support him during his studies throughout the next academic year. One of the ways he will do this is via an exhibition at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation.
Titled 'Flourish', the show will also feature the works of Angelika Wallace-Whitfield and Ivanna Gaitor, both of whom also hope to use the proceeds to support themselves at their respective universities.
The exhibition opens August 27 at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation. In the lead-up to it, Stevenson will give a talk at the NAGB on his experience as the Exnihilo artist in residence as well as the direction of his work over the past two years and moving forward.
"From what I can tell, they (Exnihilo Art Center) are trying to promote more art in The Bahamas and getting a lot more art programs going in general, in terms of working with the community and working with artists more personally. So my only hope is that they can grow and continue to blossom. They seem to be off to a good start so I just wish them growth and success."
To find out more about Exnihilo, its artist in residence program and other developments, visit its website at www.exnihiloartcenter.com.
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July 31, 2015
This summer, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas wishes two of its most valued employees farewell as they prepare to take the next leap in professional development.
Former NAGB Assistant Curator Averia Wright and Gallery Assistant Jodi Minnis said goodbye to gallery this week in anticipation of heading north, where they will pursue academic advancement at Ohio University and Goldsmiths, University of London, respectively.
After spending four years at the gallery, where she advanced from curatorial trainee, Wright now looks forward to earning her Master's of Fine Art in Ohio University's sculpture and expanded practice program. Already an established ceramicist, Wright previously studied at The College of The Bahamas and University of Tampa, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art with concentration in sculpture.
Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. This summer, Wright was announced as a recipient of the prized Harry C. Moore Memorial Scholarship in the Arts provided by the Lyford Cay Foundation. The scholarship is awarded to exceptional practitioners in the fields of fine art, performing art, writing and arts education. It offers up to $15,000, annually, for tuition and living assistance while studying abroad.
That kind of support will come in handy during Wright's three years in Ohio, as she lays the foundation for her future. Having spent years learning the skill of curating, she now anticipates getting back to the roots of her creative career on a full-time basis.
"I expect the gallery to continue to thrive and meet new platforms, but personally, I'm looking forward to being more serious with my professional artwork," she explained. "John (Cox) said it best when he said 'You facilitate other artists and their dreams working at an institution like this'.
So being able to focus on myself and my practice is something that I look forward to."
These are not the only long-term plans she has for her future. Like many artists before her, Wright hopes to use her skills and aptitude to influence younger generations by teaching.
"I think that having started my ceramics journey at the College of The Bahamas, I see myself going back there to work as a professor," she said.
Her affinity for the arts community in her homeland is something she shares with Minnis.
For just over a year, Minnis has juggled her work as an artist, assistant curator at Central Bank and NAGB gallery assistant. Her project management skills will come in handy in August, when she is expected to take part in an invitation-only residency program and prepare for travel to the U.K.
Minnis will be an artist in residence at the annual Aruba-based Caribbean Linked program. Caribbean Linked is organized by the Ateliers '89 Foundation, ARC Inc. and Fresh Milk Inc. This year it will be held August 12 - 31 and aims to provide a forum for connecting young visual artists, writers and curators throughout the region. The program's administrators hope the residency will allow participants to exchange ideas, build on their professional networks and foster relationships. This year will make the third edition of the program.
Following the program, she'll be on her way to London to pursue a Bachelor Degree in art history.
Reflecting on her time at the NAGB, Minnis recalled her most memorable experience at the gallery - helping hang Ace of Spades, the tribute to Gus Cooper.
"I saw how fun it was, actually collaborating with the Junkanoo people and John Beadle was curating the show. I think that was most memorable - seeing how a community of people came together to work on that one exhibition," she said.
After her completing her bachelor's Minnis has plans to further her academic career with post-graduate degrees before returning home, where she hopes to serve as a gallery director or curator.
Going in with a mindset sure to earn her success in her field, she said: "I've learned to be a problem solver, a solution finder more than anything, in any capacity. And, no matter the job title, whatever is required of you in order to get the job done, you should do."
Equipped with ample know-how and commitment to their practices, the NAGB has faith that both Minnis and Wright will be paying it forward for many future generations. The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas wishes both artists well in their academic and professional journeys.
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July 31, 2015
As kids enjoy their last few weeks of holidays, educators may be thinking about the best methods to deliver their lessons. And Orchid Burnside, co-founder of Art Supply Drive, is doing her part to help some of them.
Art Supply Drive began in 2013 and is now in its third year. The drive is a collaboration between the NAGB and Doongalik Studios, who, last year, supported three public schools - C.H. Reeves, R.M. Bailey and Central Andros High School.
In its third year, the art supplies drive continues to be held in August to facilitate donations. Supplies of all shapes and sizes are welcomed. Items received in the past include:
Art Supply Drive also accepts monetary donations, of which "every last penny" is used to purchase additional materials, according to Burnside.
Donations can be dropped off at Doongalik Studios, on Village Road, or at the NAGB, on West and West Hill Streets. Anyone interested in supporting the drive is encouraged to contact the art galleries at 394-1886 (Doongalik) or 328-5800 (NAGB).
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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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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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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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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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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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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.
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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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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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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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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