Five years ago, Artvi Advocates was little more than an idea. Today it is an important player on the Virgin Islands scene, providing exposure for local talent and creating interest in the visual and performing arts.
The group is headquartered on St. Thomas but its reach extends to St. Croix and St. John. Organizers are gearing up for its signature annual event, the revived “Caribbean Colour” art exhibit and awards show that will take place in May. The group also sponsors workshops and is trying to raise funds for scholarships.
Co-founder Priscilla Hintz, who did much of her growing up on St. Thomas, said she was inspired by a course she took at Goucher College called “Arts in Your Community.” She surveyed local artists and discovered many of them missed the former St. Thomas-St. John Arts Council and the juried show, Caribbean Colour, that it used to sponsor. It had been dormant for about 10 years.
To fill the vacuum, Hintz and Kimberly Young founded Artvi Advocates. Young has since moved out of the territory and on to other things, but Hintz continues with the group, backed by a loyal board and an enthusiastic team of volunteers. Board members are Brenda Sylvia, Eric Browne, Lynn Berry, Karen Valentine, Genevieve Ryan and Susan Edwards.
“Collaboration is an important part of what we do,” Hintz said. The group works with the V.I. Council on the Arts and the School of Arts and Visual Careers, among others.
Recently it partnered with Arts Alive at Tillett Gardens. Arts Alive already gives summer scholarships to high school students who have demonstrated a talent in the performing arts, primarily music. Hintz said Artvi Advocates is raising funds to expand that program to include the visual arts. For now, it also relies on Arts Alive for its formal non-profit status, though “we’re working towards getting our 501 (c) (3) official letter” from the federal government, designating it as a tax-exempt non-profit.
Last month, the organization sponsored workshops conducted by Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico on St. Thomas. One explored “The Role of the Curator and Recent Shifts in Curatorial Practice” and the second presented “Arts Marketing: Strategies to Get Exposure for Your Work.”
“We’re hoping to take some workshops to St. Croix,” as well, Hintz said, adding that Artvi is working with the Art League on St. Croix.
It also reaches out to high schools, working with art teachers to encourage students and to identify participants in Artvi events.
The Caribbean Colour show features both an adult and a student competition, each with both a two-dimensional (paintings, photographs) and a three-dimensional (sculpture, clay, mixed media) category.
Artvi held its first Caribbean Colour in 2010. The show is open to artists from throughout the territory. Recently the organization has played on the color theme by asking artists to submit works representative of a particular hue, though not necessarily employing that hue. For instance, the “green” show had as much to do with ecology as with emerald, hunt, chartreuse, or other shades.
“We try to engage the audience,” Hintz said. Last year attendees were invited to bring an object that represented blue, and all were displayed in an “installation piece.” Among the more ingenious contributions were a statue of a blue-cloaked Virgin Mary, a pair of blue jeans and a bottle of Windex. The winning student entry featured a blue-tinted portrait of a blues musician.
Hintz is still working on the audience piece for this year’s event. But the theme is set: Seeing Red.
The show will open May 10 and will run for 14 days in the old Havana Nine store at Yacht Haven Grande. The center “has been a great corporate sponsor,” Hintz said.
Artvi gets 30 percent of the profits on works sold through the exhibit, and that money goes toward its scholarship program, she said.
Awards will be determined by the opening day audience, who will be given ballots and asked to mark their favorites in each category. The 2013 show drew a crowd of about 500 for the opening, Hintz said, and she’s expecting at least that many this year.
Entries are being accepted through the end of April. More information can be obtained by sending email to email@example.com or going online to www.artvi.org.