April 13, 2004 – Expect something different at Friday's solo show opening at Mango Tango Art Gallery. The works that W.B. "Bill" Thompson will be showing have a carnival theme, which is not surprising given the time of year. But the showpiece is a mural 80 feet long and 80 inches high.
"Carnival: An Island's Collective Imagination" is what Thompson titled the piece, which comprises a dozen 80-inch-square canvas panels of life-size revelers, mocko jumbies, musicians, troupe stalwarts and more.
Unlike most works exhibited at galleries, the mural is not for sale; it's being donated by Thompson and Mango Tango to Roy L. Schneider Hospital, which is expected to hang it on the second floor in a place where it will be visible from the lobby below. More specifically, according to a Mango Tango release, the mural "is a gift to the people of the Virgin Islands to celebrate the recent accreditation" of the hospital.
At the art gallery, Thompson also will be showing more than 20 new mixed media paintings on canvas or plywood. Many of the pieces, characterized by vibrant colors and rich textures, are studies he created preparatory to beginning work on the mural. Others are interior, floral and architectural images, "all in his signature bold colors," the release states.
Gallery owner Jane Coombes explains how the mural came about: She had asked Thompson if he would be interested in donating a painting on behalf of himself and the gallery to the hospital, and he had readily agreed to so to. In search of inspiration, and with no particular size in mind, "he went to the hospital to look for the area that would be available to showcase his work," Coombes says.
Thompson himself describes what happened while he was in the hospital lobby that day — which happened to be the day that Schneider chief executive officer Rodney Miller Jr. announced that the facility had been approved for accreditation. "The good news sparked a spontaneous celebration within the hospital community" — not unlike carnival, Thompson said.
"I wanted to capture the joy of that moment in this painting," he said of his mural. "I also wanted a visually challenging painting that would spark the viewer's imagination and serve as a catalyst" to inspire, sooth, humor and transport viewers "to their own personal carnival celebration."
He added: "To me, Carnival is a celebration of life, and that is what a hospital can be as well."
"With floor-to-ceiling carnival images adorning the gallery on Friday night, Mango Tango invites the public to lift a toast to celebrate the hospital's new accreditation," Coombes says. The reception is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the gallery in Al Cohen's Plaza stop Raphune Hill.
For more information call 777-3060.
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