The show, featuring 87 pieces by established and emerging local artists as well as 32 works by students, will hang for a full week. Following Sunday's event, it will be open to the public May 26-31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Caribbean Colour receptions have a well-deserved reputation for attracting a cast of hundreds — the exhibitors and their friends, family and teachers, of course, but also art collectors, art patrons, politicians and members of the sponsoring St. Thomas-St. John Arts Council who may not fit into any of those categories.
There will be live music and refreshments Sunday afternoon as well as the opportunity to meet most of the exhibiting artists. All works will be available for purchase, and — this being one of the arts council's major annual fund-raisers — a portion of the proceeds will benefit the not-for-profit agency.
Artists from St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Water Island are represented in this year's show. All exhibitors are members — some old, some brand new — of the arts council. Each could submit two works, in any medium(s).
Prizes will be awarded in the categories of oils, water media (watercolor, acrylic), three-dimensional/sculpture and "everything else" (pastel, pencil, pen and ink, mixed media, etc.). Judging will be of use of chosen medium, presentation and aesthetic appeal. Additionally, show visitors will receive a ballot to vote for their "People's Choice" favorite.
A significant addition to this year's Caribbean Colour is the David O'Neill Excellence Award, which will be presented to the "People's Choice" winner.
David O'Neill was a popular fine artist, graphic artist, gallery owner and stage actor on St. Thomas in the 1980s and early '90s. Following his death in 1993, a group of his friends held a combination memorial service and fund-raising event with the idea of creating a trust fund to keep David's name alive in the arts community. For nearly a decade, the David O'Neill Award was presented annually to an Arts Alive fair exhibitor by a panel of judges.
Last fall, there being no Tillett Gardens fair, the memorial fund trustees looked for another suitable way to use the money donated in memory of O'Neill. It was ultimately decided that "Caribbean Colour would be the perfect venue to memorialize the man whose life on St. Thomas was a testament to the importance of all kinds of arts in the community," publicity states.
So, this year the award — $200 and a plaque with a copy of one of O'Neill's pen-and-ink drawings — will go the artist chosen by the show visitors as their favorite.
Caribbean Colour is a movable visual feast that has become a tradition for artists and art lovers. The first show was held in 1989 in the lower-level gallery of the Reichhold Center for the Arts. Others venues: Fort Christian, the old Taste of Italy complex, The Old Stone Farmhouse, American Yacht Harbor, Tutu Park Mall, Coral World, Mongoose Junction, Pistarckle Theater, The Art Gallery at the Grand Hotel and, once before, Port of $ale Mall.
The show theme has always been the same: "an artistic interpretation of all that is Caribbean color." (The "Colour" came about because one of the initial organizers was English; once in print, the Brit spelling just stuck.
Hanging Caribbean Colour is a daunting undertaking: some 120 pieces and only a day in which to assign them all suitable space and install them in it — with the panel of judges doing their thing in the midst of it all.
Exhibitors will be delivering their art on Saturday morning, with a noon deadline, and then Mary Blazine, the hanging crew chair, and her fellow volunteers will get to work. The good news is that most of them have done it before and have the skills, the tools, the artistic eye and the cooperative spirit needed to get the job done.
Everything about Caribbean Colour and everything about the St. Thomas-St. John Arts Council is volunteer.
The membership-based organization, founded in 1967, is planning another exhibition in November — "a Caribbean Showcase of Arts and Crafts to honor local craft people," council president Cheryl Miller says.
"It will run the first weekend in November for two days and will be an introduction to the Holiday Craft Fair at Compass Point Marina on Thanksgiving weekend," she says.
The holiday fair was instituted last year as a successor to the Arts Alive Festivals at Tillett Gardens following the retirement of — and with the blessings of — longtime arts presenter Rhoda Tillett.
Another project on the arts council agenda, Miller says, is a directory of visual artists, artisans, performing artists and galleries to be distributed to such outlets at the Tourism Department, St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and the government's V.I. Council on the Arts agency. And yet another is a Web page with "thumbnail" information about each member.
For more information about the show, call Miller at 776-6179 or Claire Ochoa at 643-6363. To learn more about the arts council, call Miller.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.