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HomeNewsArchivesIT'S A FESTIVE ARTS ALIVE -- EVEN WITHOUT RHODA

IT'S A FESTIVE ARTS ALIVE — EVEN WITHOUT RHODA

Wistfully pondering her prospects for retirement some fine day, Rhoda Tillett on more than one occasion in recent years has wondered aloud what it would take to keep Arts Alive alive when she was no longer around to do the masterminding, moving and shaking.
This Thanksgiving Day weekend, the community gets to find out.
After 20 years of producing the Tillett Gardens arts and crafts fairs, then later festivals, Tillett handed off the last six weeks' worth of responsibilities for this one after she fell and broke a kneecap while in New York. The person she tapped to take on the task was St. John hot condiments entrepreneur and community activist Cheryl Miller.
When Tillett called asking for help, Miller recalls, "Of course, I said yes." Her rationale was that the job was "something I'd done for three years coordinating the St. John Saturday events." The day-long monthly programs were aimed at attracting shoppers to Cruz Bay via live entertainment, arts and crafts exhibits and special promotions by local shops.
A few days before this weekend's festival, Miller describes putting the event together as "a collaborative effort of the artists, artisans, musicians, Ms. Vivian and Sonny." (The latter references are to Tillett Gardens administrative assistant Vivian Faulkner and the late Jim Tillett's silkscreen protege, Albert "Sonny" Thomas.) Even so, Miller admits, "I just found it overwhelming."
That may be because she was simultaneously running her own business, developing a corporate project with two other specialty artisans, starting a new venture as host of a local cooking show on cable's TV-2, working with culture bearer Dorothy Elskoe on plans for holiday jamborees at Havensight Mall and taking lessons to become a blackjack dealer for the St. Thomas Montessori School's upcoming Las Vegas Night.
In preview, though, what she and the others have put together looks like an arts and crafts festival and sounds like an arts and crafts festival and gives every reason to believe that, with founding mother Rhoda Tillett sidelined, Arts Alive is still very much still alive.
Among the exhibitor displays, visitors will find batiks by Anita de la Cruz, photography by James "Huck" Jordan, sculpture by Edney Freeman, watercolors by Kathleen Treml, screened tiles by Donna Roes, and artwork by Treml's students at Peace Corps School.
Craft exhibits will include teddy bears by Jeanne Webb, crochet work and sweetbreads by Karen Issac, quilting by Suzanne Eastwood, dream-catchers by Lise Swartz, clothing by Nayda Young, placemats by Norah Saunders, bird feeders and glassware by Pam Larson, essential oils by Karen Christiansen, jewelry by Sarah Herrington and by Valerie Horsford, "nature's art" by Monique (who goes just by "Monique"), and hot sauces and jellies by – who else? – Cheryl Miller.
Rosemary Sauter will have Pokeman collectibles, Marilyn Cook will show her Kamani Enterprises wares, and James O. Boyle will represent Red Oak Bear Publishers. In a Christmas mode, Merry Phillips will have original ornaments and Bridgett Julius will display her one-of-a-kind cards. And for youngsters, Susan Harmer of the local Baha'i community will oversee creative children's activities, as will volunteers with at least one other group, according to Miller.
Friday's performing arts attractions include guitarist/vocalist Stevie Legend at 3 p.m. and vocalists Tahra Richardson and Janet Reiter at 4 p.m. Santa (Irvin "Brownie" Brown) Claus is to arrive around 5:30 p.m. as kids and grownups finish trimming the garden's century plant Christmas tree with hand-made decorations created at the festival earlier in the day or brought from home.
Saturday will bring the calypso trio R3 – Russell, Reita and Royal – at 11 a.m., the Eudora Kean High School Quadrille Dancers at 1 p.m., steelpan soloist Morgan Rael at 2 p.m., the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers at 3 p.m., the jazz ensemble Sax Cymbals at 4 p.m., a "singing and comedy hour" at 5 p.m. and a hot sauce tasting contest at 6 p.m. (For this last one, to compete, show up with your hot sauce entry no later than 3 p.m. and look for Miller.)
Sunday's events are the traditional appearance of the Hugo Moolenaar Mocko Jumbies at 1 p.m., caroling by the Voices of Love at 2 p.m., and a drawing at 3 p.m. for the raffle prize, a gift basket filled by the exhibiting artisans.
The festival corporate and community sponsors are Chase Bank, Heineken, the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, and Polli's Mexican Restaurant. Located in Tillett Gardens, the restaurant is normally closed on Sundays but will be open all weekend for the festival.
Putting the fest together largely by phone, fax and e-mail from St. John, Miller says, she was gratified by the cooperation she got from "the talented people who have stepped forth and said they would help in little ways" on St. Thomas. "It's a larger community than St. John, but it's just as much family," she says.
Meanwhile, Tillett, recuperating with family in Raleigh, North Carolina, says she did "absolutely not" try to micromanage from afar, and she thinks Miller has done a fine job. At the same time, she says, "it feels strange" to be so far removed from the action, and she's anxious to get home. If her doctor gives the go-ahead, she'll fly back on Nov. 30 – to arrive on St. Thomas on the eve of the Bill Sims Blues Band performance on Dec. 1 that kicks off the season's non-classical Tillett Garden Series concerts.
Candle and herbal products entrepreneur Jason Budsan, a Tillett Gardens tenant and longtime exhibitor, says he's looking forward to Tillett's return "just for the enthusiasm" that she conveys in the complex and in the community. While she continues her recuperation, he suggests, "She doesn't have to do anything. Just her being here makes the difference."
But even without her, the festival will go on.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 to 5 on Sunday. Admission is free, and so is the live entertainment. What you spend will depend on what you buy, from nothing at all to original art that could conceivably take you into four figures. Raffle tickets are $3 apiece, or two for $5. And a ballot to vote in the hot sauce tasting contest will cost you $2.
To learn more, phone (340) 775-1929, fax to 775-9482 or e-mail to tillett@islands.vi.

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Wistfully pondering her prospects for retirement some fine day, Rhoda Tillett on more than one occasion in recent years has wondered aloud what it would take to keep Arts Alive alive when she was no longer around to do the masterminding, moving and shaking.
This Thanksgiving Day weekend, the community gets to find out.
After 20 years of producing the Tillett Gardens arts and crafts fairs, then later festivals, Tillett handed off the last six weeks' worth of responsibilities for this one after she fell and broke a kneecap while in New York. The person she tapped to take on the task was St. John hot condiments entrepreneur and community activist Cheryl Miller.
When Tillett called asking for help, Miller recalls, "Of course, I said yes." Her rationale was that the job was "something I'd done for three years coordinating the St. John Saturday events." The day-long monthly programs were aimed at attracting shoppers to Cruz Bay via live entertainment, arts and crafts exhibits and special promotions by local shops.
A few days before this weekend's festival, Miller describes putting the event together as "a collaborative effort of the artists, artisans, musicians, Ms. Vivian and Sonny." (The latter references are to Tillett Gardens administrative assistant Vivian Faulkner and the late Jim Tillett's silkscreen protege, Albert "Sonny" Thomas.) Even so, Miller admits, "I just found it overwhelming."
That may be because she was simultaneously running her own business, developing a corporate project with two other specialty artisans, starting a new venture as host of a local cooking show on cable's TV-2, working with culture bearer Dorothy Elskoe on plans for holiday jamborees at Havensight Mall and taking lessons to become a blackjack dealer for the St. Thomas Montessori School's upcoming Las Vegas Night.
In preview, though, what she and the others have put together looks like an arts and crafts festival and sounds like an arts and crafts festival and gives every reason to believe that, with founding mother Rhoda Tillett sidelined, Arts Alive is still very much still alive.
Among the exhibitor displays, visitors will find batiks by Anita de la Cruz, photography by James "Huck" Jordan, sculpture by Edney Freeman, watercolors by Kathleen Treml, screened tiles by Donna Roes, and artwork by Treml's students at Peace Corps School.
Craft exhibits will include teddy bears by Jeanne Webb, crochet work and sweetbreads by Karen Issac, quilting by Suzanne Eastwood, dream-catchers by Lise Swartz, clothing by Nayda Young, placemats by Norah Saunders, bird feeders and glassware by Pam Larson, essential oils by Karen Christiansen, jewelry by Sarah Herrington and by Valerie Horsford, "nature's art" by Monique (who goes just by "Monique"), and hot sauces and jellies by – who else? – Cheryl Miller.
Rosemary Sauter will have Pokeman collectibles, Marilyn Cook will show her Kamani Enterprises wares, and James O. Boyle will represent Red Oak Bear Publishers. In a Christmas mode, Merry Phillips will have original ornaments and Bridgett Julius will display her one-of-a-kind cards. And for youngsters, Susan Harmer of the local Baha'i community will oversee creative children's activities, as will volunteers with at least one other group, according to Miller.
Friday's performing arts attractions include guitarist/vocalist Stevie Legend at 3 p.m. and vocalists Tahra Richardson and Janet Reiter at 4 p.m. Santa (Irvin "Brownie" Brown) Claus is to arrive around 5:30 p.m. as kids and grownups finish trimming the garden's century plant Christmas tree with hand-made decorations created at the festival earlier in the day or brought from home.
Saturday will bring the calypso trio R3 – Russell, Reita and Royal – at 11 a.m., the Eudora Kean High School Quadrille Dancers at 1 p.m., steelpan soloist Morgan Rael at 2 p.m., the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers at 3 p.m., the jazz ensemble Sax Cymbals at 4 p.m., a "singing and comedy hour" at 5 p.m. and a hot sauce tasting contest at 6 p.m. (For this last one, to compete, show up with your hot sauce entry no later than 3 p.m. and look for Miller.)
Sunday's events are the traditional appearance of the Hugo Moolenaar Mocko Jumbies at 1 p.m., caroling by the Voices of Love at 2 p.m., and a drawing at 3 p.m. for the raffle prize, a gift basket filled by the exhibiting artisans.
The festival corporate and community sponsors are Chase Bank, Heineken, the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, and Polli's Mexican Restaurant. Located in Tillett Gardens, the restaurant is normally closed on Sundays but will be open all weekend for the festival.
Putting the fest together largely by phone, fax and e-mail from St. John, Miller says, she was gratified by the cooperation she got from "the talented people who have stepped forth and said they would help in little ways" on St. Thomas. "It's a larger community than St. John, but it's just as much family," she says.
Meanwhile, Tillett, recuperating with family in Raleigh, North Carolina, says she did "absolutely not" try to micromanage from afar, and she thinks Miller has done a fine job. At the same time, she says, "it feels strange" to be so far removed from the action, and she's anxious to get home. If her doctor gives the go-ahead, she'll fly back on Nov. 30 – to arrive on St. Thomas on the eve of the Bill Sims Blues Band performance on Dec. 1 that kicks off the season's non-classical Tillett Garden Series concerts.
Candle and herbal products entrepreneur Jason Budsan, a Tillett Gardens tenant and longtime exhibitor, says he's looking forward to Tillett's return "just for the enthusiasm" that she conveys in the complex and in the community. While she continues her recuperation, he suggests, "She doesn't have to do anything. Just her being here makes the difference."
But even without her, the festival will go on.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 to 5 on Sunday. Admission is free, and so is the live entertainment. What you spend will depend on what you buy, from nothing at all to original art that could conceivably take you into four figures. Raffle tickets are $3 apiece, or two for $5. And a ballot to vote in the hot sauce tasting contest will cost you $2.
To learn more, phone (340) 775-1929, fax to 775-9482 or e-mail to tillett@islands.vi.