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Gallery Owner Turns Artist for Animals Fundraiser

Nov. 10, 2007 — Caroll Sirhakis is contributing to the continuing life of the planet in her own way. Her singular concept was on display Friday evening at Oceana Restaurant and Wine Bar in Frenchtown, at "Artists for Animals," a fundraiser for the Humane Society of St. Thomas.
After a career spanning more than 30 years exhibiting other artists – most notably Haitian – Sirhakis took a new direction early this year; becoming the artist, herself, instead of the entrepreneur.
She co-founded Down Island Traders and The Gallery featuring local products and Haitian art about three decades ago, and has worked developing a market for Haitian art since then. Until now.
About 300 art and animal lovers — other artists, gallery owners, friends — flocked to the event, her first show, where Sirhakis expressed pleasure coupled with wonder at the crowd. "We never expected this many people," she said. "I'm shocked and very, very happy."
"We" is Sirhakis and Patricia LaCorte, Oceana owner, who began planning the event months ago. "I could never have done this without Patricia — she's so organized — and my other friends," Sirhakis said. "They did everything; all I had to do was stay home and work."
One of those friends is photographer Sonya Melescu, who took dozens of photos of the pieces throughout the evening. Saturday morning, Sirhakis said, "Sonya told me when she got home last night, her answering machine was full of people wanting photos. She didn't do it commercially; it was a gift to me."
Sirhakis' work is an act of love, assembling the pieces of coral, driftwood, fungi, seeds, pods bleaching in the sun, anything that speaks of life to her. Each of her pieces was once a living thing," she says. "Each speaks with its own color and texture, and each piece is still determined to show the value of its life." She calls her art "a symbolic gesture to the premature destruction of our environment."
Among the pieces are corals more than a million years old, shells, bones. Sirhakis breathes new life to the objects, creating still persons among them, little people she says, "who have gathered in obvious piety, celebration, homage and peace to share a seemingly unknown tradition."
Expressing her newfound attitude toward her own artistic expression, Sirhakis commented, "Some people have said to me, 'they look sad,.' I don't care how they look, if you like it, buy it," she said with a laugh.
The pieces, arranged on the walls, on tables, peeking out of a corner, do indeed seem to have a life of their own. The art, with the little people of Sirhakis' imagination, dominated the rooms crowded with larger actual folk. There were assemblages on walls, poised in wooden frames, individual pieces, some very large, huddled together on pieces of coral.
In working with the coral, Sirhakis says she has become an advocate for the environment. She has researched global warming; "Now more than 60 percent of the reefs are damaged or dying," she says. "We never used to find such large pieces of coral, and now they are everywhere. It's frightening. We have to wake up."
On another note, Sirhakis evidenced her many years on the island. Looking out from her second floor vantage point at the Villa Olga seaside complex, she said, "It's funny that I'm having my first show here. My brother, Frank, started his first restaurant here, and here I am about 35 years later, having my first show."
Sirhakis said Saturday she didn't know how much the fundraiser had netted, but she said 100 percent of the profits go to the Humane Society for its spaying and neutering program. Along with the art, almost all six dozen Humane Society T-shirts of Sirhakis' design also sold.
The show was the first in what Sirhakis and LaCorte plan as an annual event. "It's the beginning of something good," Sirhakis said.
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Nov. 10, 2007 -- Caroll Sirhakis is contributing to the continuing life of the planet in her own way. Her singular concept was on display Friday evening at Oceana Restaurant and Wine Bar in Frenchtown, at "Artists for Animals," a fundraiser for the Humane Society of St. Thomas.
After a career spanning more than 30 years exhibiting other artists – most notably Haitian – Sirhakis took a new direction early this year; becoming the artist, herself, instead of the entrepreneur.
She co-founded Down Island Traders and The Gallery featuring local products and Haitian art about three decades ago, and has worked developing a market for Haitian art since then. Until now.
About 300 art and animal lovers -- other artists, gallery owners, friends -- flocked to the event, her first show, where Sirhakis expressed pleasure coupled with wonder at the crowd. "We never expected this many people," she said. "I'm shocked and very, very happy."
"We" is Sirhakis and Patricia LaCorte, Oceana owner, who began planning the event months ago. "I could never have done this without Patricia -- she's so organized -- and my other friends," Sirhakis said. "They did everything; all I had to do was stay home and work."
One of those friends is photographer Sonya Melescu, who took dozens of photos of the pieces throughout the evening. Saturday morning, Sirhakis said, "Sonya told me when she got home last night, her answering machine was full of people wanting photos. She didn't do it commercially; it was a gift to me."
Sirhakis' work is an act of love, assembling the pieces of coral, driftwood, fungi, seeds, pods bleaching in the sun, anything that speaks of life to her. Each of her pieces was once a living thing," she says. "Each speaks with its own color and texture, and each piece is still determined to show the value of its life." She calls her art "a symbolic gesture to the premature destruction of our environment."
Among the pieces are corals more than a million years old, shells, bones. Sirhakis breathes new life to the objects, creating still persons among them, little people she says, "who have gathered in obvious piety, celebration, homage and peace to share a seemingly unknown tradition."
Expressing her newfound attitude toward her own artistic expression, Sirhakis commented, "Some people have said to me, 'they look sad,.' I don't care how they look, if you like it, buy it," she said with a laugh.
The pieces, arranged on the walls, on tables, peeking out of a corner, do indeed seem to have a life of their own. The art, with the little people of Sirhakis' imagination, dominated the rooms crowded with larger actual folk. There were assemblages on walls, poised in wooden frames, individual pieces, some very large, huddled together on pieces of coral.
In working with the coral, Sirhakis says she has become an advocate for the environment. She has researched global warming; "Now more than 60 percent of the reefs are damaged or dying," she says. "We never used to find such large pieces of coral, and now they are everywhere. It's frightening. We have to wake up."
On another note, Sirhakis evidenced her many years on the island. Looking out from her second floor vantage point at the Villa Olga seaside complex, she said, "It's funny that I'm having my first show here. My brother, Frank, started his first restaurant here, and here I am about 35 years later, having my first show."
Sirhakis said Saturday she didn't know how much the fundraiser had netted, but she said 100 percent of the profits go to the Humane Society for its spaying and neutering program. Along with the art, almost all six dozen Humane Society T-shirts of Sirhakis' design also sold.
The show was the first in what Sirhakis and LaCorte plan as an annual event. "It's the beginning of something good," Sirhakis said.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.