To some guests at the Couples Swept Away resort, it was not surprising that another exhibition of works by Jamaican artists was being held on location, December 6-22. That is until they ventured to the sports complex and were pleasantly surprised by works far different from what they were accustomed to seeing.
This impression was also shared and voiced by local visitors to the expo titled “Be Swept Away by Jamaica’s Beauties” of works by artists who had been volunteering with the OAaSIS International foundation.
At Monday’s opening, December 6, Rollie Fresh and Boom Steppa volunteer performers with the entity for a little more than a year were present to perform. Rollie although not delivering his full slate originally planned managed to impress with ‘Wealthy’.
As of Tuesday the bifocal expo of visual and literary arts was formally executed at the hotel’s sports complex, and was more than a delight to visitors locally and internationally. Only a hint was given at Monday’s opening to the numbered guests in attendance.
An oasis of talent as anticipated, visitors were “Swept Away By Jamaica’s Beauties” – the fine arts, creativity and culture of Jamaicans – over 100 pieces of art in photography, painting original and prints as well as craft items.
The expo was being held under the patronage of hotelier Jane Issa, who is known for promoting strictly Jamaican talent within the Couples hotel chain. Allowing artists volunteering with the foundation to earn an extra dollar for Christmas, the hotel took no portion of the profits, and hence 15 per cent was committed to OAaSIS.
Both the expo of Jamaica’s fine arts and the information gleaned on the OAaSIS International Foundation impressed the guests and they were not shy in their comments. International visitors in their comments commended efforts to expose Jamaica’s fine artists through this means, while locals joined in seeking a return of the expo with more originals by the artists.
Mr Adam Wilson from Chicago was one of a handful of guests brought to tears, while owners of Graffiti Gallery – Steve and Bonnie – gave invitation for the expo to be shown in Canada as well as for the Foundation’s workshops to be done with their children.
Roxann Vanacek Yarges said she was inspired by the expo and the Foundation. Visitor Frank Adams, marine biologist and tennis coach, was the first to speak of how the expo enriched his stay at Couples. Rockhouse Hotel’s Damian Salmon who came over on the invitation of a highly excited Dwight Jackson, also from that Hotel, was one of many who voiced a desire to “see more” of this type of expo showcasing fine arts of Jamaicans in that area. Visitor Toni-Ann Powell and staffers at the hotel agreed that the expo captured the natural beauty of Jamaica.
On the list of artists chosen on the premise that they have been volunteering with the Foundation’s projects for youth 0-25 included patron Barrington Watson, Howard Moo Young, Rico, Ewan McAnuff, Sharon Fox Mould. Literary works were offered by Jermaine Gordon(Colour and Power of Your Thoughts), Jamaica Guild of Artists (The Art of Jamaica), Joan Andrea Hutchinson and Joan Williams (Tour Jamaica). Nicholas daSilva was the only American allowed as an OaASIS volunteer who donated his comic books on Jamaica’s reggae superstars. There were also brief talks and youtube clips about Jamaica’s artists, culture, the Foundation and the works, and the scope of art in Jamaica by journalist and artist Anthea McGibbon who started the Foundation.
At first sales were slow, but with the word getting out, it picked up right along with the visitors and repeat visits by patrons, said Anthea McGibbon, OAaSIS founder who mounted the exhibition.
The popular items were a “Pretty House” photo by Anthea McGibbon, “Smile Jamaica” drawing by Howard Moo Young, print of ‘Mother and Child’ and postcards of Barrington Watson’s paintings, original “Bobo Shanti” in oil by Rico, print of ‘Standpipe’ (bought by Jane Issa) by Ewan McAnuff.
Hotel representatives Winifield Wellington (co-owner of Traveller’s Beach Resorts), Daniel Quetlas (general manager of Club Riu), Damian Salmon (manager of Rockhouse Hotel) were among the list of purchasers.
OAaSIS exists to network artists/es and empower the creative mind of especially the youth among its objectives. The projects of the OAaSIS Foundation include libraries, art departments, CXC and creative workshops at secondary and primary levels, and online career libraries.
By March the expo will be mounted again at that location.