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The Bahamas

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Bahamian art: Presenting. Uniting. Educating.

Mixed Media Blog

Sight and sound at Hillside House A dual-faceted experience unveils at the downtown gallery next month

Enchanting the senses, artist Antonius Roberts and singer Keri Sherman will join forces at Hillside House with a dual-faceted show of sight and sound. An intimate event, the two-part exhibition is titled Hallelujah and its opening night will feature a selection of eight songs to be sung by Sherman and 10 of Roberts’ newest paintings.


Sherman and Roberts have collaborated in the past; she complemented his 2014 Equality and Respect exhibition with a performance and has sung at Hillside House during the holiday season. Keen to perform again in the historic space, Sherman approached Roberts in July 2015 with the idea of another collaborative exhibition.
She selected eight songs – most of them originally sung in foreign languages – which were influenced by her faith and personal beliefs. These she presented to Roberts.
“The reoccurring themes and the lines that run through all the selections are of life, death and love,” said Roberts. “But, out of all of them, even though I had the translated versions, the song that most resonated with me was Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. I’d heard it before, but as a result of this, I listened to the words, and the song stimulated me to just begin to paint.”


He would listen to each of the eight tracks while working, but returned often to Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. This connection with the song made choosing a name for the show an easy task.
As he picked up on the repetitive themes in the music, Roberts noticed another kind of organic cycle. It was the first time he’d enjoyed painting while listening to music in a long time.
“You can become so busy that you forget life’s simple pleasures,” he said. “As artists, we always feel that we need to make social statements or we need to be inventive to make brilliant, powerful statements. Keri’s offer provided me with an opportunity to just celebrate the joy of painting.”

Evolution
Guests may find the Hallelujah series of paintings reminiscent of another ethereal body of works.
“I’d done a series of work called Bubbles, and I was trying to figure out how to push that to another level,” Roberts recalled. “Bubbles predominantly dealt with just the ocean, but the whole concept of Hallelujah helped me to look beyond the ocean, in some cases look to the sky, to the universe.”
The 10 paintings incorporate many of the blues present in the Bahamian landscape. And while round bubble-like shapes can certainly be found in the works, a supernova quality is present as well.
Roberts sees the series segueing into future explorations of using acrylic paint and objects to complicate the surface of his paintings, making them more densely layered.
“The more I paint with acrylic, the more I’m reminded that acrylic is a plastic medium, and also I see the fusion of plastic of glass and acrylic. I’m exploring the potential of doing more with the paint itself,” he explained.


The duo’s only hope is that Hallelujah will serve as a reminder of enjoying the present moment and simple beauty. Sherman believes guests will find messages of hope and renewal in the music and works.
Roberts added: “I’m always reminded of the fact that we are often inspired by situations and circumstances around us. But how do we impact these situations or circumstances or try to make them a little better or provide opportunity for a little joy, a little comfort?”
Hallelujah opens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 12. The event is limited to 50 persons, and admission is by ticket only. Tickets are $100 each and should be purchased in advance from Hillside House. Those interested in attending the event are asked to contact Hillside House at 322-7678 or via email at hillsidehousebs@gmail.com.

NAGB gets kudos from travel site

According to its website, The Culture Trip aims to “showcase the best art, culture food and travel for every country in the world”. The NAGB is listed as one of the top 10 contemporary art galleries in the country, which are “going to great lengths to support art and cultural identity”.


Proud to have the NAGB recognized on the award-winning site, gallery director Amanda Coulson said “For a non-profit institution with very limited advertising budget — with the additional challenge of being in a country that doesn’t use its art or museums to advertise itself globally, unlike, say, France, Japan or Italy — the Internet is crucial in reaching a worldwide audience. The more websites we listed are on, the higher we place in an online search.”

The site boasts an annual readership of nearly 24 million as well as approximately 500,000 social media followers. It’s hoped that at least a few of those will be drawn to the NAGB – which The Culture Trip identifies as “the most prominent cultural institution in the country”.


The NAGB’s collection of works by many of the country’s most treasured artists, together with its commitment to join in leading the country’s art movement, has helped it stand out as one of the nation’s top attractions for both locals and visitors. This comes as The Bahamas faces new urgency from its citizens to develop new economic models, with many calling for a shift away from the ‘sun, sand and sea’ brand toward more genuine, authentic cultural offerings.



“More and more, we find that the NAGB is popping up as the number one destination to visit while in Nassau,” said Coulson. “For the last two years, we have won the TripAdvisor Certificate of excellence—this is generated by visitors on awarding stars—and now to be listed as a Number 1 site of The Culture Trip, certainly means we’ll have more visitors who will, in turn, spread the word globally about the treasure trove of art we have in our country.”


To find out more about The Culture Trip or to see the NAGB’s listing on the website, visit theculturetrip.com.

NASSAU TO PARTICIPATE IN CHINA CERAMIC FAIR

The City of Nassau will be represented at the Jingdezhen 12th China International Ceramic Fair which takes place from October 18-22, 2015. Jingdezhen was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts in 2014, and the City has hosted this huge fair annually since 2004 catering to more than 2,000 international artisans. The City of Nassau was also designated a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts in 2014, and as a member of this prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), it has accepted the invitation to participate.



The Nassau booth will be hosted by Alistair Stevenson, a Bahamian ceramic arts student from Long Island in The Bahamas who is presently studying at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in JiangXi Province on a Chinese Government scholarship. An Associate of Arts graduate of the College of The Bahamas, Stevenson studied under the tutelage of Joann Behagg, and was awarded a Popop Studios Artist-in-Residence Prize in 2011. He was also the first recipient of the Denis Knight Award for excellence in Ceramic Studies at the 2012 All Ceramics Exhibition (ACE) founded by Jessica Colebrooke of Jessica’s Tileworks. Before travelling to China, Alistair worked at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation as its Curator. Stevenson stated: “One of my goals is to take the skills and knowledge acquired during studies here in China, and combine them with previous knowledge of Ceramic Art to use as a vehicle to manifest aspects of Bahamian culture with both philosophical and anthropological concepts, and this Fair is an excellent opportunity to do so.”

President of Creative Nassau, Pam Burnside, stated: “It was a pleasure to be invited to participate in this Fair from our sister city in China – this is what the Creative Cities Network is all about – an exchange of culture and creativity. This will be our first international exhibition as a part of the UCCN, and since Alistair was presently on site he could make the necessary preparations for the Nassau booth and be the host. Along with his ceramic artwork, the booth will be decorated with Bahamian flavor to give patrons a taste of The Bahamas.”

In addition to Alistair’s work, which will consist of pieces he has been working on in China, there will be two bowls by Master Bahamian Artist Max Taylor produced in the traditional Chelsea Pottery style, as well as pieces from Joann Behagg, taken from her recent “All Dead, All Gone” Exhibition which examined the dangers facing The Bahamas’ fishing resources as a result of overfishing and pollution of our waters.


Interested persons can view last year’s fair at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB_PlRnNV1M and photos of this year’s Fair will be posted on the Creative Nassau website and facebook page.

KATERINA KOVATCHEVA’S WATERCOLOR SHOW TO OPEN AT DOONGALIK



“Footprints in the Sand”, a watercolor exhibition by Katerina Kovatcheva,  will open at Doongalik on Monday, October 26 from 6-9pm and will be on display until Wednesday November 18.


Katerina Kovatcheva is a Bulgarian-born artist, graphic designer and art teacher. She is a permanent resident of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, where she has resided with her family for the past 15 years. Over the years, she has won awards and recognition from all around the world for outstanding performances in numerous artistic themes and settings.

Katerina holds a Master of Art Degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. Her favorite mediums are watercolor, soft pastels and oil. She is also the official representative of IWS (International Watercolor Society) for The Bahamas, and encourages any other local watercolor artists to contact her if they are interested in becoming a part of the organization.  

Between 1991 and 1995 she worked as a fashion designer, managing her own fashion studio and designer line of winter and summer clothing. She has since worked for various hotel chains and institutions around the world – as an independent portrait artist, caricature artist, stage design coordinator, and design planner  as  well  as  a coordinator for all artistic projects  and themed events for multiple hotel institutions such as RIU Hotels & Resorts in the Dominican Republic, Atlantis Hotel, Paradise Island in The Bahamas, to name a few.
Katerina also has an earnest passion for teaching and as an art and crafts teacher she has devoted many years to the education of students in various Bahamian government and private schools at all levels from grade one to pre-college. She has proudly led her classes to multiple best achievement awards on a national level several years in a row.
Katerina is also proficient in five languages. She enjoys travelling around the world and has made the beautiful Bahamas her final choice of residence. With her endless passion for self-improvement and motivation for overachievement, she has proven herself as a talented and accomplished artist in multiple fields. Find more artist info at:
facebook.com/pages/Katerinas-World/176171459186230  

Art and education at the NAGB

The gap between exhibitions was not enough to prevent a room from filling at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas this past Tuesday, when the inaugural talk of a series of discussions presented by some of the country’s foremost sociopolitical activists was held.
The series is the result of collaboration between the College of The Bahamas (COB) and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). It is one of several joint initiatives undertaken by the two institutions, which recently signed a memorandum of understanding to promote each other’s mission.

The brainchild of COB Dean Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett, the series is a mandatory component of his Race, Gender and History in 19th and Early 20th Century Bahamas class. Bethell-Bennett hopes the talks will serve as both an introduction to the NAGB as an educational resource and national institution as well as a chance for his students to hear from some of the country’s most valued leaders.
Speakers were jointly selected by Bethell-Bennett and NAGB Director Amanda Coulson for their contributions to the country’s progressive social movements.
“I think that there are some people who are underutilized in the public, who have a lot of information and knowledge about history, and the students really don’t know anything about that, so it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement,” explained Bethell-Bennett.
The talks were originally conceived as a complementing program for the Seventh National Exhibition, which examined issues of race, class, identity and gender. Bethell-Bennett was a participating artist in that exhibition, which opened December 2014. His work examined the inherent segregation existing in the present-day relationship between developments from foreign direct investment and local Bahamians.

He is hoping that, through the lecture series, students develop an appreciation and understanding for the progression the country still needs to undertake.
“I’m hoping they take away the losses or the erosion that has happened in civil liberties, in The Bahamas. While women may have gotten the vote, they are worse off now than they were before; they’re underrepresented in Parliament,” he explained.
Cultural critic, academic and writer Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, presented the first talk titled “Boxed in: Reflections of Bahamian issues of race, gender, politics and old-time religion”. Glinton-Meicholas is known for her anthropological contributions, and has presented a series of satirical works on cultural observations. On Tuesday evening, she married a selection of personal anecdotes with decades-old formal and informal cultural traditions, including the racial and physical construction of neighborhoods and the polyamorous lifestyle in Bahamian society. She delved into the acceptance of domestic and gender-based violence, even in parliamentary halls, as recently demonstrated by one member of Parliament and his supporters.
She concluded her discussion with reference to images of ‘Bahamian art’, beginning with early 20th century artist Winslow Homer, whose works were some of the first to feature black people, but merely as incidental elements of the landscape. She went on to feature contemporary artists, like John Beadle, whose work references immigration and discrimination toward poorer blacks, and Dionne Benjamin-Smith, known for her work confronting taboos like gender-based violence and racial constructs of beauty. For many of the students, it was their first time understanding the links between fine art, history and culture.


The next talk in the series will be held on Thursday, October 15 and led by activist Alicia Wallace. The discussion begins at 6 p.m. at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and all members of the public are invited to attend free of charge. For more information, call the NAGB at 328-5800.

What’s on at the NAGB

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) will be temporarily closed until October 24 for the installation of R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation, but this doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on at the NAGB this month.



Linking up with COB
The first talk in a series of discussions was held on Tuesday, October 6 at the NAGB. The brainchild of COB Dean Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett, the series is a mandatory component of his Race, Gender and History in 19th and Early 20th Century Bahamas class. Cultural critic, academic and writer Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, presented the first talk titled “Boxed in: Reflections of Bahamian issues of race, gender, politics and old-time religion”.
The next talk in the series will be held on Thursday, October 15 and led by activist Alicia Wallace. The discussion begins at 6 p.m. at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.


R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation
The NAGB’s next exhibition, R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation, opens at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. The show is curated Dr. Erica James, former NAGB director and current assistant professor in Yale University’s department of art history and African American studies; it will feature more than 260 works by the late legendary artist.
Known for being one of the first serious Bahamian artists to paint Junkanoo, Malone helped to transform the landscape of artistic production in The Bahamas during his lifetime. As one of the country’s first successful art businesspersons, his memory and legacy live on through his works and mentees, who include artists like Antonius Roberts and Peggy Hering.
All members of the public are invited to attend.

The good, the bad and the ugly
At the end of the month, in keeping with the season, the NAGB will host its Halloween Extravaganza. A two-part event, kids are invited to sign up for the Halloween ARTerNoon and/or join at dusk for the Halloween party.
At the ARTerNoon, children ages seven to 12 are welcome to make their own Jack o’ lanterns from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $5 per child and parents are encouraged to sign their kids up by calling the NAGB on 328-5800.
Later on that day, the whole family can join from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Halloween Party themed “The good, the bad and the ugly”. Trick or treating, karaoke and costume prizes are all on the agenda. Children and teens join the fun for $10, adult admission is $15 per person. There are 50 total spaces available for children, and early sign up is encouraged.

For more information on this month’s events, contact the NAGB at 328-5800.


NAGB temporary closure

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas will be closed to the public from October 4 to 24 in preparation for the upcoming Brent Malone retrospective exhibition. During the temporary closure, the Villa Doyle exterior grounds will still be open to visitors. The gallery will reopen at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 24 with a ceremony, which all members of the public are invited to attend. The gallery wishes to apologize for any inconvenience to the public.






The NAGB moves full steam ahead: Three new team members come on board in time for upcoming exhibition

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) has recently welcomed onboard three new team members to complete its crew. In the midst of preparing for the upcoming Brent Malone retrospective, which will feature over 260 works by the late legendary artist, Richardo Barrett, Darchell Henderson and Christina Wong have jumped in to help behind the scenes.

Barrett is the NAGB’s new assistant curator and has already proved his capacity in more than one way. Barrett completed his associate degree in art at the College of The Bahamas and was part of The Current, the art team at mega resort Baha Mar. Since joining the NAGB, his duties have focused on getting the gallery’s archive in tip-top shape to manage its collection in accordance with best practices. He has also gotten his feet wet – quite possibly literally – in installing the most recent iteration of the Double Dutch project, engaging Bahamian artist John Cox and Jamaican artist Charles Campbell.
This version, titled "Calendar of Conditioning" features Cox's "123/76" and Campbell's "Transformer 8". Cox's piece is a continuation of his "Filler" series. "123/76" incorporates the inner tubes of bicycle tires suspended in an octagon-shaped ring.
Campbell's piece, titled “Transformer 8”, is a part of the artist’s “Transformer” series of works and features an aluminum sphere floating in the center of a pool of black liquid, which is surrounded a by a prohibitive white border. The sphere is a nod to Geodesic Dome designer Buckminster Fuller, who was known for his theories of utopia and hope that his architectural visions could be instrumental in improving the quality of human life.
Barrett and Curatorial Assistant Natalie Willis were responsible for receiving the dome in parts, putting it together and installing it before filling the pool.
His major project, though, has been working on the Brent Malone retrospective exhibition, which opens on October 24 and will feature more than 250 works by the late artist. This, he believes, has been the most exciting part of his orientation.
“I would definitely say seeing some very rare Brent Malones has been the best part so far,” he said.
Darchell Henderson is looking forward to leaving her mark on the NAGB. The new registrar and education assistant joins the NAGB from her former post with Lyford Cay International School, where she worked as a duty assistant and substitute art teacher.

At the gallery, she has taken charge of membership and has already jazzed up the gallery’s membership drive with new options and offerings.
“I didn’t want it to be the kind of thing where you sign up and nothing happens,” she said. “I want to encourage those who are members to stay members and I want to encourage those who aren’t members to become members.”
Henderson is also elbow-deep in plans for the NAGB Mixed Media Shop. An artist herself, she has engaged her design skills in creating plans for the store’s upcoming facelift.
“The store is the first place our guests see, so I wanted that to be a statement. It is an historic building, but we also want it to have a modern feel.”
Henderson looks forward to using her position at the gallery to find out more about running a gallery, as she sees a future as being one of the few female Bahamian gallerists.



            Christina Wong earned a place at the NAGB table in May when she helped deinstall the Seventh National Exhibition in May 2015. Since then, she has helped install the subsequent Central Bank exhibition and worked as head volunteer of the NAGB Mixed Media Summer Camp. She is now a part-time gallery assistant and curatorial advisor – a post she juggles along with art studies at COB. She now works under the direction of NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe on the gallery curatorial team. She hopes to pursue an advanced degree in curatorial studies in future.

Exnihilo manages Bahamas page on Southplanet portal

The Bahamas can now boast of a vibrant presence on the Southplanet online portal alongside dozens of other countries in the African-Caribbean-Pacific community. Southplanet, also known as Sudplanète, is an online database collating the contact and background information of cultural centers in more than 79 nations.

The database was founded in 2006 by French association Africultures, who recently invited Bahamian artist residency program Exnihilo to coordinate the Bahamas page.
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, through New Providence-based partners Michael Edwards and Katrina Cartwright. A residency on Long Island, Bahamas is also in the works.
Southplanet’s objective is to increase awareness of cultural activities going on in the participating countries. The Bahamas page lists information on 12 films by Bahamian filmmakers; 269 artists, artisans and musicians; 45 organizations and a growing number of Bahamian events.
“It’s important for creative practitioners in The Bahamas to connect, collaborate and synergize with others in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries,” explained Edwards.




To find out more about Southplanet, visit its website at http://www.spla.pro/.

R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation opens this month at the NAGB

In a blitz of color, a year-long development will blossom at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) this month. On Saturday, October 24, the NAGB will celebrate the opening of R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation – a retrospective exhibition featuring more than 200 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptural pieces by legendary Bahamian artist Brent Malone.


The show is curated by Dr. Erica James, former NAGB director and current assistant professor in Yale University’s department of art history and African American studies. It will tell the story of an art evolution alongside the ebbs and flows Malone experienced over the course of his career.

Pieces in the exhibition have been sourced from collections throughout The Bahamas and overseas. The earliest work is one that was completed when Malone was just a 13-year-old boy, in 1954.

Known for being one of the first serious Bahamian artists to paint Junkanoo, Malone emerged out of the famed Chelsea Pottery era and helped to transform the landscape of artistic production in The Bahamas during his lifetime. As one of the country’s first successful art businesspersons, his memory and legacy live on through his works and mentees.


“We’re getting a lot of works from private homes that went into those homes when they were sold in the 70s and 80s that haven’t been seen in 20 or 30 years,” said NAGB Director Amanda Coulson. “Dr. James has done intensive research and we’re repatriating Bahamian art that will be on display for the Bahamian public, so I’m excited about that too. I think Brent Malone holds a really crucial place in the history of Bahamian art. We’ll be able to see what he did and how he was so instrumental in the blossoming of our art scene.”

The extensive exhibition will occupy all of the gallery’s spaces, including the permanent exhibition level. For James, who researched far and wide to contact private collectors, the show tells a story of a multidimensional Bahamian history. Upholding her understanding of Bahamian culture as one that is complex, James believes Malone conveyed this through his works as well.

“This show has been partly a labor of love and partly because I believe in Bahamian art history and a need to tell these stories. I think it’s time for Bahamians to really understand the depth and complexity of their own history,” she said.


R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation opens at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. The show will be on display until April 2016. The public is invited to the opening ceremony and reminded that the NAGB is free for locals every Sunday. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

THE OFFICAL OPENING CEREMONY OF THE E. CLEMENT BETHEL NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL 2015 PRESS RELEASE

The Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture, Division of Culture, will launch its 56th annual E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival with an official opening ceremony on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 11:00 a.m at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas on West Hill Street.


The festivities will commence with an arts and crafts exhibition, which will display over 50 pieces of artwork produced by primary, junior high and senior high schools; as well as adults from numerous Family Islands throughout The Bahamas.

The show will include ceramics, paintings, sculptures and sketches along with other art forms. Cultural Affairs Officer at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Ellery Deveaux is the coordinator for this event. The event’s adjudicator is John Beadle, a seasoned artist, who will assist with judging the exhibition.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture looks forward to another exciting show to promote the phenomenal talent of our young people in the area of the visual arts.



Where the Wild Things Are

Inspired by "Where The Wild Things Are", a popular and beautifully illustrated children's story by Maurice Sendak, the D’Aguilar Art Foundation’s (DAF) most recent exhibition of the same name explores the wild and scary creatures of our imaginations, and the dark and foreboding places where they might be found.




While only a simple children's story, the appeal of "Where the Wild Things Are" is universal, finding favor with young and old since it was published in 1963. Its protagonist, the heroic young Max, confronts his fears of the night with great fantasy, overcoming terrifying encounters with monstrous beasts on stormy seas and in brooding landscapes.


The wild things featured in literature, art and film are often inspired by animals found in the wild; animals that could pose a real threat to humans – such as lions, crocodiles and sharks.  Of course, artistic interpretations of these creatures often exaggerate their most terrifying features, with audiences embracing the thrill of the fear they inspire. Other monsters, such as dragons and skeletons, are the product of age-old myths that have become part of our collective memories of darkness. In recent times, a refreshing new look at what is frightening has surfaced, with children's films such as Monsters Inc. dissecting the story of the monster under the bed and turning the figments of children's nightmares into endearing characters. 


Wild and hostile landscapes form an essential backdrop to many fearful visions, whether an allegorical representation of burning in hell, lost in stormy seas, stranded in a violent storm, or running from threats in a crumbling urban environment. Paintings that depict these powerful scenes can be challenging to live with, which is why many of the works in the DAF collection featured in this exhibit are not often on view. Yet these disturbing paintings are important in reminding us of the chaos and disintegration that could occur in our midst if we do not continue to strive for peace, order and progress.


The show, therefore, illustrates both the wild things – the monsters and demons and wild animals that symbolize our fears of the unknown, and where they dwell – the dark nooks and crannies of the world where unknowable threats can hide.


Where the Wild Things Are opened on Thursday, September 24 and will be on display at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation until November 5, 2015. The DAF is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. or by appointment. To find out more about the foundation or its exhibitions, call 322-2323

A proud son: DC Pratt looks forward to launching the Chan Pratt Foundation next month

Seven years after losing his father, DC Pratt has plans in store to remind the local community what it’s gained from Chan Pratt’s artistry.
Determined to preserve his father’s legacy, Pratt has developed the Chan Pratt Foundation in hopes that his late father’s contribution to the Bahamian art movement will serve as inspiration for future and up-and-coming generations.

Part of his motivation for doing so comes from Pratt’s own experiences. He was pursuing a college education abroad when his father passed away and he encountered financial difficulties.
“With him being the bread winner and then passing away, after a while, it wasn’t financially possible for me to continue studying. I went back to school, and for my first year and a half my mother was financing it, but that couldn’t continue to happen, so I had to come back home,” recalled Pratt.
Now a professional Muay Thai fighter, he has found his niche and – like his father – has made a name for himself locally and internationally.
Understanding first-hand the importance of financial support for university students, Pratt hopes the Chan Pratt Foundation will alleviate some of the burdens students face during their studies. In addition to scholarships, local mentorship and education programs will be core components of the foundation. He hopes, too, to be able to afford developing Bahamian artists the opportunity to visit international creative arenas, museums and galleries. Within its first few years, the philanthropist anticipates stretching the foundation’s benefits to the U.S. to facilitate its anticipated exchange program.


“I want to foster an environment for these young artists to be able to flourish and to be able to inspire one another and to be able to see where they can go, even if they don’t have a college education or the means for a college education,” he explained.
He established the Chan Pratt Foundation in 2013 and has since been working on gaining support and developing his plans for the organization. Now looking forward to the foundation’s official launch, Pratt is welcoming the public’s participation at the foundation’s first fundraiser.
The event will be hosted at Sapodilla Estates, from 7 – 10 p.m. on Saturday, October 17. The evening’s main highlight will be a mixed-media exhibition featuring the works of multi-disciplinary artists responding to Chan Pratt’s inspiring legacy; on display and up for sale will be pieces by both emerging artists and legendary names. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Chan Pratt Foundation to help kickstart its mission.

Noted muralist Allan Wallace and “Celebrity Artist” Jamaal Rolle will also entertain by producing a live piece to be auctioned at the end of the night.
“I want this to provide a platform for up-and-coming artists where they can shine alongside the people who have already made names for themselves,” explained Pratt.

Tickets to support the event are now on sale for $100 apiece, and can be purchased from the NAGB’s Mixed Media Gift Shop until October 4. Tickets are also available at Damianos Sotheby’s on Shirley Street and at Lyford Cay through October 16. For more information on supporting the Chan Pratt Foundation, contact the foundation at info@chanprattfoundation.org or call (242)544-4779.

The picture of good health

Having established their legitimacy and benefits in the East over centuries of practice, holistic therapies have taken off in this hemisphere in more recent decades. Such remedies include everything from talk therapy to gardening; and now, at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, art lessons are taking flight.


The classes began as part of the center’s occupational therapy initiative. Designed to equip Sandilands patients with employment and entrepreneurial skills, occupational therapies are one of the foremost methods of helping patients develop independence. They are particularly useful for stroke survivors, whose motor skills have been disrupted, preventing them from returning to their former occupations.

“Occupational therapy is one of the most essential components of rehabilitation, particularly mental health rehabilitation. One of the therapists’ goals is to ensure that persons are provided with skills, and in particular new skills, because sometimes mental illness can cause persons to become incapacitated in other areas. Art is one of the areas that we find is easy for most persons to develop some skills in,” explained Sandilands Public Relations Manager Betsy Duvalier.

Led by artist Malcolm Rae, known as “The Artist Malcolm”, the art lessons began after Duvalier put out a call for volunteers. She reached out to Rae’s Rotary club, where he offered himself as an art instructor.  

“Being an artist, that is the only help I can give,” he said.

He developed an interest in discovering genuine talent among those who might have been otherwise unfamiliar with their abilities.

“Since childhood, most people have been creating art and most of them don’t know but that doesn’t matter. They’re creating it. That is why I’m doing it,” he explained.

Rae is a primarily self-taught multimedia artist, and is best known for his watercolor and pastel works of local landscape, people and the conch shell.

He began teaching weekly lessons in June. Through the classes, Rae has reached a number of Sandilands patients, largely because many of his students spend relatively short periods of time at the center. According to Duvalier, most of Sandilands’ clients are expected to return to independent or semi-independent living following treatment.


At each class, Rae can instruct as many as 15 patients, many of whom are unaccustomed to art lessons and art therapy. He starts with the basics.

“In the beginning, I tried to get them to work inside a border. I get them to put their names on their works. I’m trying to get them to be professional,” he explained. “I tell them there’s only a circle, a square and a triangle. Everything else can be drawn from those shapes.”

And while the lessons often have a slow start, students pick up the momentum, completing up to two paintings in one hour-long class.

According to Senior Occupational Therapist Sunitha Pati, the classes are having a positive effect on patients who are able to participate on a consistent basis.
“The clients have been more relaxed and have showed no anxiety. They try to freely express emotions and fears, and I see that they are able to socialize better,” she noted, adding, “I feel the lessons should be held at least three times a week.”

Pati believes the lessons have been well received among clients, who appreciate the reprieve the classes offer as well as the chance to develop talent, even in those who are art novices.

Rae’s efforts are also appreciated among Sandilands staff, who have been in search of avenues to give their clients exposure to skills development opportunities. The center is now broadening its call to other artists, artisans and skilled crafts people who are interested in contributing to Sandilands Occupational Therapy Department.

“We’re looking for artists, persons who do crotchet, persons who do music, because we have a choir, and we’d like a consistent musician. The aim is one day to eventually organize a band because we’ve found that music also plays a crucial role in helping persons’ mental development,” said Duvalier.

With these intentions, the center must now focus its energy on acquiring the necessary supplies for its growing occupational therapy plans. It is now accepting donations of arts and handicraft supplies.

Those interested in volunteering as a creative instructor or donating to support Sandilands’ growing Occupational Therapy Department are asked to contact Betsy Duvalier at 364-9618 or 357-8720.



THE OFFICIAL UNESCO CREATIVE CITIES BANNER DOWNTOWN NASSAU TELLS OF TWO PROUD BAHAMIAN ACHIEVEMENTS

Observant drivers and pedestrians passing in front of the British Colonial Hilton to round into Bay Street,    downtown Nassau’s main thoroughfare, will notice a large, framed banner on the second-storey wall of the building just across the way. They should know that this display, erected through a collaboration between Creative Nassau and the Downtown Nassau Partnership, represents two achievements of which all Bahamians should be proud.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated The Bahamas’ capital, Nassau, a City of Crafts and Folk Arts in UNESCO’s prestigious Creative Cities Network (UCCN), which comprises 69 cities from 32 countries with designations in one or more of seven creative fields—Crafts and Folk Arts, Design, Film, Gastronomy,  Literature, Media arts, and Music. Nassau has further distinguished itself by being one of the first and only two UCCN members in the Caribbean, the other being Jacmel, Haiti.  The aim of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is to place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of development plans at the local level and to cooperate actively at the international level.

The second great achievement is that of the Creative Nassau organization, which began the application process for the designation in 2008. With straw crafts and junkanoo arts as their focus, the CN team spent the ensuing six years doing the necessary research and writing to demonstrate to UNESCO that the country’s capital was indeed worthy of the accolade. The City of Nassau received the prestigious designation as a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Arts in December 2014, which allows the City to display the official UNESCO Creative Cities emblem. Led by husband and wife Jackson and Pam Burnside (current president of the organization), the founding members included Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, vice president; artist John Cox, former UN Ambassador Dr Davidson Hepburn, College of The Bahamas professor Dr Nicolette Bethel and photographer Paulette Mortimer. 

“We are extremely proud of this designation which places the City of Nassau on par with cities throughout the world. This has opened up endless possibilities for creative collaborations, resources and opportunities to show how Creativity and Creative Tourism can be of benefit to The Bahamas economically and socially,” stated Pam Burnside, President of Creative Nassau. “Our collaboration with the Downtown Nassau Partnership has facilitated the holding of the Creative Nassau Market in Pompey Square on the second and last Wednesdays of each month. The market showcases the work of skilled local artisans in many fields who are making beautiful artworks, household goods, clothing and accessories, jewelry, drinks, jams and so much more. Locals and visitors to downtown Nassau can now purchase authentic Bahamian products and souvenirs.”

Gevon Moss of the Downtown Nassau Partnership, who represented the City of Nassau at the recent UCCN Annual Meeting held in Kanazawa Japan, added: “As the Downtown Nassau Partnership continues to improve our city, we are recommitted to ensuring that what makes us unique is not only enjoyed by our visitors and locals, but that it also takes center stage. This signage represents an international stamp of approval of our city. It not only certifies how proud we are of our Bahamian culture, but it also showcases how important culture is in defining who we are as a people.”


For further information about Creative Nassau, visit their website at www.creativenassau.com, and the UCCN at en.unesco.org/creative-cities 

An overseas call: Bahamian artists represent in Vienna exhibition

Hoping to get the international creative community’s ears ringing, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas Director Amanda Coulson and gallerist and community activist Ulrich Voges will be joining forces in Vienna, Austria in a show titled Nassau Calling: Art in The Bahamas [Re]visited. A collaborative initiative, Coulson, Voges and Austrian art dealer and gallerist Ernst Hilger conceived the idea of a Bahamian exhibition a few years ago.


For 20 years before he settled in The Bahamas, Voges owned a prominent gallery in Frankfurt, Germany. While there, he established connections with collectors, many of whom are Viennese, along with other dealers and gallerists. The older Hilger—a long-time veteran of the prestigious Art Basel—was his mentor in the business. This experience also equipped him with expertise in areas like art appraisal and the tastes and interests of European collectors.

Similarly, during her time in Europe as an art critic and curator, Coulson established her own rapport and, having co-founded the VOLTA art fairs together with Voges, she began to build her own strong connections to international commercial galleries. In 2006, Coulson curated the seminal exhibition at the German museum, the Nassauicher Kunstverein, titled Funky Nassau. The show has been described as the inaugural showing of contemporary Bahamian art in Europe and featured nine Bahamian artists.  

“Ernst Hilger is always actively searching for art out of new places. He represented Chinese art long before the boom, and he’s been in the Middle East for a while too, as well as continuing to represent his Austrian [artists],” explained Coulson. “He’s always intrigued about what’s upcoming. So when I moved here (The Bahamas), he specifically asked me, ‘Would you be able, at some time, to do a show?’ I said, ‘Yes. Let’s schedule it.’ So it was a collaborative concept.”


The works to be shown in Nassau Calling were initially culled from the Seventh National Exhibition, Antillean: an Ecology (NE7), which was co-curated by NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe and COB educator Michael Edwards and opened December 2014. Coulson and Voges together selected key pieces from the NE7 and invited prominent artists like Antonius Roberts and Blue Curry, whose works were showcased in Funky Nassau, to participate in the 2015 exhibition.

The idea behind Funky Nassau and Nassau Calling is not a novel one. Inviting international curators to participate in local shows is one of the ways commercial galleries become familiar with global art movements and names. Through this kind of exchange and collaboration, artists have the opportunity to become represented by dealers and engage with critics and scholars who might otherwise be unfamiliar with their work, thereby expanding their visibility, market access and clientele.

Bynoe has pointed out that such international exhibitions highlight the importance of continued dialogue between national institutions – particularly those of island nations like The Bahamas. Efforts to continue the circulation of ideas and best practices throughout the region lead to greater opportunities for artists to support themselves through their work.

Hilger owns three gallery spaces in Vienna. Nassau Calling will be hosted at his BROTKunshalle Gallery – a large industrial venue affording the space to host big exhibitions like this one. Referred to as a ‘lab’, the BROTKunshalle Gallery is known for supporting work by artists whose names and accomplishments are unfamiliar to the Vienna public. Nassau Calling will feature 25 Bahamian artists; among them are both established and up-and-coming practitioners, such as NAGB Curatorial Assistant Natalie Willis.



“I think it’s very important for Bahamian artists to be exposed to different countries and cultures because the market here, like any industry, for any Bahamian producer, is a challenge because it’s a small market; and for artists it’s the same. There are only so many collectors, curators and gallerists here, but there are many more in the world, globally, who could support their practice so they can work fulltime as artists. I feel that it’s extremely important, for the growth of our cultural field, for Bahamian artists to be plugged into an international art market,” Coulson said.

The potential benefits from increased exposure have been enough to override the temporary challenges Coulson and Voges have encountered in their endeavor. While living in an island nation certainly has its perks, one of them is not the cost and ease of shipping and the transit of materials to and from the country. International shows are vastly simpler on large landmasses, where the works can be driven to their destination. To fund the effort of shipping works to Vienna, the NAGB received support from the Davidoff Art Initiative.

Their hard work and commitment will pay off in the exhibition, which opens Saturday, September 26 in Vienna, Austria. The date coincides with one of the city’s largest art fairs – the Vienna Contemporary, which is held September 24-27 and will welcome representation from 99 galleries from 25 countries. Vienna Contemporary coordinators estimate that the city’s population of collectors and art institutions will receive a boost of 20 percent during this time. It is hoped that, through Nassau Calling, The Bahamas will be recognized as a cultural hub whose artists hold their own at the cutting edge. 


For more information on Nassau Calling, visit www.hilger.at.

Max Taylor’s ‘What to Do?’ is the September Art Work of the Month

“What to Do?”, a woodcut by Bahamian master printmaker Maxwell Taylor, is this month’s Art Work of the Month.

The matriarch

In “What to Do?” the artist speaks about the role of the matriarch in the Bahamian family construct. It delves into identity issues and obligations of women in our contemporary society.


Across cultures, the matriarch has always been considered the strength/anchor of the household. While it can be argued that the patriarchal figure is more significant to the stronghold of the family construct, the duties of women within the domestic space take precedence over the presence of the male. It is expected that women play the dominant role in childrearing, care-giving, maintenance and upkeep of the household, as well as being the true helpmate/equal of her partner. Although Western society is dominated by the patriarchal, with the traditional family model still having the man as the figurehead, the woman is oftentimes the most influential figure in the family unit.

Even with the protestation for women’s rights and equality, the rights of women are still unequal to those of men, even though they may carry a greater responsibility, being a significant presence in both the workplace as well as the home.

Western societies have been dominated by patriarchal influence, which has dictated the role of women since ancient times. Despite this, one can argue that the role of women has improved drastically as their significance has become much more important. Nowadays, it is considered socially acceptable for women to be breadwinners, especially following World War II, and pursue their independence. This was a notion that was ridiculed and generally perceived as unattainable. Debatably, there are still some women who disagree with women working outside of the home, claiming that it brings harm to the traditional family structure; this often ties into arguments on societal gender roles.

Gender

The question then evolves into what we consider to be masculine and feminine. Norms and standards are determined by what society deems to be acceptable of each gender, thereby creating identities that are often socially constructed outside of biological makeup. Men are considered aggressive and dominant, while women are considered to be nurturing and submissive. It is argued that, by adhering to and buying into societal norms, men and women prevent the cultivation of naturally occurring gender roles and norms.

Within this construct, the evolution of sexism becomes problematic and the role of women is devalued; society determines that certain qualities a woman might possess are unfeminine and thus unbecoming, thereby presenting a nonconformist persona that is met violently with those who follow strict societal standards and norms. However, the roles of both men and women are evolving in today’s society having become more egalitarian and less restricted with fewer gender-specific expectations.

Taylor’s piece speaks to a number of dualities with women and their responsibilities. “What to Do?” subscribes to the duality of women being both vulnerable and strong, rich in spirit and poor in economic standing. Arguably, one can interpret this piece as a woman carrying a burden.

This woodcut stands strong with intricate and purposefully cut lines defining the depth of its intended meaning. The message that exudes from this piece speaks to the struggle and astounding strength that this woman has displayed in her life – of being disadvantaged but having to display great strength. The roundness of her belly invites viewers who are expecting or those women who have experienced pregnancies to relate to the endless questions, doubts and fears that arise in relation to motherhood and the child’s future. The reality of this piece is prevalent and mirrored in the Bahamian society, as there are far too many who are unsure of where to turn to for provisions for their children, let alone themselves.


ARTerNoons are back

The NAGB is pleased to announce the return of its monthly ARTerNoons!

Next Saturday, September 19, kids ages seven to 12 are invited to the gallery to create their very own laminated collages.



In the spirit of World Literacy Day and in recognition of the year-round need to conserve and protect marine life, the collages will be ocean-themed and constructed with imagery and vocabulary reflective of environment conservation and protection.

The ARTerNoon starts at noon and kids join the fun for $5. To book your spot, contact the NAGB at 328-5800.

A mutually beneficial performance

For the past six years, each October has witnessed a small performing arts center bursting into life with the Shakespeare in Paradise Theatre Festival. For much of this time, that reawakening was welcomed as the major, though short-lived, activity at the Dundas Centre for Performing Arts.
That changed significantly last year, when Ringplay Productions, the center’s management company, committed to revitalizing the space. It made good on that promise with fresh and classic performance works as well as the opening of a black box theater. With hopes of continuing on this trajectory, modernizing the center and bringing it up to standard as a world-class performing arts center, Ringplay and the Dundas are now asking for the public’s support.


Background
The site was originally established as the Nassau Improvement Association – a training center for domestic aides – under the guidance of Lady Dundas. In the 60’s, Meta Davis-Cumberbatch saw a more charismatic purpose for the locale and declared it a performing arts center.
Throughout the 80s and for most of the 90s, the Dundas was known for its spirited repertory season, which ran from January to May each year. The center produced regular shows and served as a venue for popular community events, like summer schools and fairs. Its liveliness waned following former Dundas Artistic Director Philip Burrows’ departure in 1997.

In the years between then and 2014, activity at the Dundas remained sluggish and sporadic. Last year, Ringplay Productions made a commitment to restoring the space’s former energy and giving it new life by improving and expanding its facilities and utilizing the large outdoor space. One of the first steps was creating a black box theatre for theatre in the round, where Ringplay held Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” to widespread acclaim.


Benefit performance

With much of the facility’s equipment now antiquated (most of it remaining the same from the 70s and 80s) and the original stage – built by Donald Cartwright in 1965 – in need of repair and upgrades, The Dundas will be hosting a benefit performance on Sunday, September 13.

The fundraiser will be led by the Dundas Capital Fund – a management team separate from Ringplay whose purpose is to secure and manage funds for the development and maintenance of the performing arts center.

“Ringplay assumed management of The Dundas in March of 2014. Immediately the black box theatre was created and many necessary repairs done,” explained Nello Lambert, of Ringplay. “However, the scope of work needed and vision for the center called for magnanimous effort – thus the creation of a board that would raise funds and oversee the development of The Dundas. As of today, we expect that the first phase of the vision will cost an estimated $2 million.”


The surprisingly sizeable property will – it is hoped – eventually feature an amphitheatre and three performance venues, two of which exist already. In the main theatre, funds will go toward a new stage floor and orchestra pit. It’s also hoped that additional seating; a new lighting and sound system and revamped box office will be part of the deal. Sprucing up landscaping and the outdoor patio are in the works along with a new roof and refurbished bathrooms for the black box theatre.

The event will feature a preview performance of “The Landlord” at 4 p.m., followed by a dessert and wine reception, with live music by Deuce.

“The Landlord” is part of the repertoire for this year’s Shakespeare in Paradise and comprises the classic Bahamian play component of the festival. The work was originally directed by Sam Boodle in the 70s and was last performed at the Dundas in 1995. This year, it stars Dion Johnson as Willie Paul and Leslie Ellis-Tynes as Olga Newbold.


Tickets for the event are $100 each and can be purchased at the Dundas. To find out more about the fundraiser or reserve tickets, call 393-3728 or 394-7179.

Back to school and out of the classroom

With classrooms full of new faces and names to learn, teachers could probably use a bit of a break this semester. And with their new – and likely heavier – loads of homework, students might enjoy a little break from their desks. That’s why the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is extending a special offer to schools and students who pop in for a visit this semester.

From September to December, the NAGB is offering a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal on school group tours. Guided tours normally come at a cost of $35 per group of 25 (max) persons, plus admission charges for students 12 and over. With this offer, schools receive two guided tours for $35, plus individual admission.
The NAGB isn’t stopping there. During the promotion, schools that book guided tours on Mondays will receive a 50% discount on individual admission charges for students who are 12 and over and accompanying adults. Normal ticket prices are $5 per student and $7 per local adult.
For more information on the gallery’s back-to-school specials, contact the NAGB Education Officer Corinne Lampkin or Education and Curatorial Support Associate Abby Smith at 328-5800.

·               The charge for guided tours is not inclusive of individual admission rates.
·               Guided tours must be booked in advance.
·               The discounted individual admission rates apply only for guided tour groups booked on Mondays.

·               The NAGB will not be offering tours during the period October 424.