Mango Tango Art Gallery unveils The Sylvia and Dunkerley Exhibition from 5:30 to 8:30 pm., Friday, March 24, at a rum punch reception.
Brenda Sylvia presents plein air oil-on-canvas and acrylic-on-canvas paintings, and Helen Dunkerley communicates her ideas through the medium of ceramics. Sylvia finds her inspiration from nature and the human form; Dunkerley looks to nature to inform her creations.
About eight years ago, she chose St. Thomas as her new home. She made her living outdoors, working on sailboats and power boats, and led both snorkel and kayak tours. With a Masters in Fine Arts from George Washington University, she observed her new surroundings and began painting the beaches that she daily explored. Her first show at Mango Tango Art Gallery consisted of eight paintings in a dynamic style that captivated viewers.
Annually, she continued to work with the gallery in a variety of group shows, and for the last three years in the well-received January Art Diva Show, which featured the creativity of a trio of women artists.
The multi-talented artist is also a dynamic fire dancer. Carnival appealed to her love of performance. For three years, she participated in the St. John Carnival as a one-person troupe, before joining the Gypsy Troupe on St. Thomas in St. Thomas in 2015.
For the current show, she offers two different series. Sylvia named the first series “Beautiful on the Edges–the Beaches of St Thomas,” which presents 14 new paintings as well as a few previously created works. She notes that an island is ”a piece of land surrounded by water” and ”this series extols many of the beautiful places where the land meets the water.” Now she has painted close to 30 of the more than 40 beaches of St. Thomas. These have garnered her a devoted client base, both locals and visitors.
She calls the second series, ”Caribbean Colors.” Influenced by the ethereal paintings of women by Chicano artist George Yepes, Sylvia chooses to celebrate the dancers of Carnival, painted primarily in a specific color. Using the same color family, she includes her favorite elements of nature, such as flowers, birds, flowers and sea life. She debuts two major paintings of dancers, along with a smaller colorful painting of mocko jumbies.
The gallery will also showcase the work of one of Australia’s most respected ceramic educators and artists, Helen Dunkerley. While working first as a lecturer from 1975 to 1980 at the University of Newcastle and continuing from 1980 until 2006 at the School of Art at Hunter Institute in Newcastle, she embarked on the complementary career of studio ceramicist.
Her numerous solo shows in Australia led to international recognition. She has been invited to show her work in Connecticut at the Lynn Tendler Bignell Gallery in Brookfield Craft Center. Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York has invited her as both a tutor in 2006 and artist-in-residence in 2007. She began working with Mango Tango six years ago.
Dunkerley now works full time as a ceramicist and has chosen St. Thomas as a second home for six months each year.
”The myriad patterns, colors and shapes of the Virgin Islands are the inspiration for my ceramic works. The sense of place resonates not only in the pottery forms and surfaces, but in the fact that the clay is dug in St. Thomas a few meters from my studio on the north side. Also, the glaze materials are for the most part sourced locally. My goal is to make ceramic pieces that can be used in the home while also having a life as an individual art work,” she said.
Big Mike Aguirre & the Blu City All Stars of St. Louis, Missouri, are booked for a week of music engagements on St. John and St. Thomas, beginning with The Sylvia and Dunkerley Exhibition. Visitors can meet the artists at the rum punch reception while enjoying blues.
The show will continue. for one month. For more information, call 777-3060.