The last Kingston Creative Artwalk of 2019 was invigorating. Who knew that in 2018 when the Kingston Creative team conceptualized this event that it would have grown to what it is today?
I walked from the car to the F&B parking lot, a walk I’ve done many times before but this time it was different. Being Christmas time, there was an energy in the air. I was greeted by the usual volunteers who showed me around. I hadn’t bought my Christmas gifts yet, so I was happy to see vendors with different gift ideas. One of my favourite local artisans, Touch by VLS was there as well as others selling clothing and lots of jewelry.
Each greeted me with a smile. For a small alley, the artisans are the heart of Artwalk as they bring us back to the purpose of Kingston Creative, which is to invigorate the arts community.
I bought children’s books from Jamaican authors for my niece and nephew and a book called “Girl Boss” by Sophia Amoruso from Bookophilia and got a nice Christmas discount.
There was a lot to cover that day, but the first place I went to was the abandoned building at 132 Harbour Street that the team had transformed into a gallery space for the Artist’s Talk with the award-winning artist Phillip Thomas. I spent some time with Phillip when he was exhibiting at The RJD Gallery in the Hamptons one summer.
Phillip, who is a lecturer at Edna Manley, has shows internationally at least 3 times a year and really has an understanding of the global art market. He mixes Old Masters techniques with modern textures and patterns.
The exhibition entitled “[UN]finished”, was conceptualized by independent curator and art historian Veerle Poupeye and featured work by emerging artists from the Edna Manley College. Current students Kobi Bailey, Demar Brackenridge, Sasha-Kay Hinds, Tevin Lewis and Brad Pinnock had their pieces upstairs. It also included work by two recent graduates, Yvad Campbell and Trishaunna Henry.
Joan Webley of Itopia LIfe and the artists from Nanook also had their artwork on display. Nanook was a live art series with artists at all stages of their development. The pieces were done on paper and cardboard and have traveled all over the world for exhibitions.
I spoke to Brad Pinnock who had two pieces on display. An installation which is an old Cable & Wireless phone booth that was painted and said “You can call me on my payphone” a nod to Drake’s song, “Hotline Bling”.
He also showed me a self portrait with his alter egos, one of him sitting on a chair wearing a bright multi-coloured jacket with a crown, smoking a spliff. His other representation of himself was him sitting wearing glasses and reading a book. He explained that its a constant struggle for him to go between both personas.
We spoke about many things, but one of the main things that came out of the conversation is the lack of places for artists like him to display his work.
I was particularly drawn to the piece by Yvad Campbell, who had a portrait of Vybz Kartel entitled, “Man of Valor”. He was dressed like a military leader, decorated with medals, a fur shoal and white gloves. He appeared to be looking down on me and I couldn’t help but snap a picture of me with the piece.
Being a formal artist myself, (I’m a graduate of Pratt Institute), I was emotional about how far Kingston Creative has come and how much they are investing in growing the artist’s community. It also had me thinking about this need for temporary spaces to celebrate art in all its forms.
I was also touched by the Moko Jumbie stilt dancers by L’Acadco and the traditional Jonkonnu Band (South West St. Andrews Jonkonnu) that flooded the Downtown streets and brought me back to a time when I used to see them outside of my house at Christmastime.
For me, art doesn’t have to be in a gallery to be appreciated and we see it everyday on the side of the road, as the street artists display their paintings and crafts in the sun.
But similarly, how graffiti artists have the walls of urban areas to share their art, Jamaica now has a space for hobbyists, amateurs, the undiscovered and even bright stars to showcase their work and I’m so happy.
ABOUT KINGSTON CREATIVE
This post is in partnership with Love Not Likes Blogger Network and Kingston Creative. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.
Kingston Creative is a registered nonprofit organisation that believes that Kingston is the Creative Capital of the Caribbean. More information can be found at www.kingstoncreative.org. The NGO is developing an Art District and Creative Hub in Downtown Kingston, Jamaica in partnership with the following “First 50” Sponsors.