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HomeNewsLocal newsSTT Contemporary Artist Exhibits at Cane Roots Art Gallery in Christiansted

STT Contemporary Artist Exhibits at Cane Roots Art Gallery in Christiansted

Augustin Holder (Photo courtesy of Augustin Holder)

St. Thomas native Augustin Holder opened his 16-piece collection of contemporary art at Cane Roots Art Gallery in downtown Christiansted. The Nov 3, Friday afternoon reception brought art lovers out in number to view the artist’s abstract impressions of “the art that was always in his DNA.”

“Opposite Sides” is Holder’s challenge to paint using a duplicity of style, which is reflective of two points of view. This collection is cognitive of his own personal journey and documents the chronology of his life and expression of humanity. “At the end of the day, I want viewers to engage and reflect on their own personal journey of enlightenment.”

Cane Roots Art Gallery will host an “Artist Talk” with Holder sharing his works on Thursday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m. “Opposite Sides” can be viewed on the closing day, Friday, Dec. 8, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Holder spent his adult life in New York. He participated in group shows in a Brooklyn neighborhood where “Black is Beautiful” was spoken loud and clear. “We did a lot of community-based events to build our community… on the heels of Spike Lee and Lauryn Hill…in the early 90s,” he said.

The Holder family [actor, dancer, musician Geoffrey Holder and painter, dancer Boscoe Holder] has been prominent in the history of art, and [Augustin] Holder ‘makes no bones’ about “claiming that fame…I’m following that footprint.”

Virgin Islands Council for the Arts (VICA) was instrumental in promoting and fostering artists, which was much to Holder’s artistic advantage when he returned home to St. Thomas in 2007-2008.

During his reign as a Seven Minus Seven Art Gallery board member, Holder was part of the equation that established and opened 81C – a great place to showcase talent and talent of the Caribbean, he said. 

“I like art as an economic driver and an important factor in developing communities. I see that on St. Croix at Cane Roots Art Gallery, as what Sonia Deane is doing in that part of town.”

Holder said he always wanted to exhibit a solo show on St. Croix and he selected Cane Roots. His show represents Holder’s burst of enthusiasm to create new works – all during 2023, with a goal to do two pieces per month.

“My style is constant: bold strokes, layered colors, distorted shapes and lines dominate the ethos of my expression. In this collection, I introduced a new color palette, which makes it an intriguing assemblage of my artistic expression.” 

Duality 1 Duality 2 – acrylic Diptych by Augustin Holder (Photo by Elisa McKay)

“This show is so unique. I’ve seen the progression of my work. I’m sticking to the script. I feel as an artist, my art is one voice, one stroke. As an artist, I can look back at my collection and see how my work has evolved from there. I want to keep my signature. It will always identify me as an artist,” Holder said.

Holder is staying close to his interpretation as to what Caribbean art is because he feels that the Caribbean is diverse with so many elements…divided yet connected by water with cultural legacies and cultural heritages that embody frames of reference. He interprets his art differently from other artists, as he compliments and draws attention to Lucien Downes, El’Roy Simmonds, and John Jones. “These strong artists have a signature that talks about heritage, culture, and the Black experience – the Caribbean experience.”

“My work is very different when I use the abstract impressions of my style to convey our identity. This is my collective frame of reference I use to tell my story,” Holder shared.

Holder works primarily in acrylic, which is a medium that flows well and allows him to express himself easier, yet he is moved to work in oil at times because it makes a powerful statement, he said.

“This show, ‘Opposite Sides,’ is very poignant as it reflects that we are still recovering from post-pandemic, post-trauma and still trying to craft new landscapes…all of us are still healing,” he said. “So this work is one signature because it reflects my personal journey.”

Native Son – acrylic by Augustin Holder (Photo courtesy of Augustin Holder)

Holder reflects opposite sides to the same subject to allow the viewer to think a little, to see, to understand what the artist is sharing. “I hope that comes across,” he said. It’s really upon the viewers to express what they’re seeing, he added.

Holder is encouraging the community to come out and view the show and experience the beautiful work gallery owner Sonia Deane is doing at the gallery. “I think that she is a phenomenal woman and she’s doing a wonderful job of showing how art is an important part of economic growth.”

Deane spoke to Holder’s work ethic and her delight in working with him. “He was dedicated and kept to his timeline and actually delivered his work ahead of time.”

“All of Holder’s work is contemporary abstract. People get caught up in the idea that Caribbean art must have a palm tree and certain figurative images that lend to the Caribbean. Not every person is looking for that traditional style. We are seeing artists creating from their own style – not that they weren’t doing that before, but they’re in their own space and doing what is outside the lines,” Deane said. 

Deane’s idea of Holder’s piece, “The Cock,” brought thoughts of places like the House and the Senate, which in the past, were predominantly ruled by men. “Look at the cock as the male gender of the chicken family…the cock is so huge and the house is so small. It shows how bodies of men can make decisions. Although the piece is abstract, it allows my mind to go to a completely different place,” Deane shared.

The Cock – acrylic by Augustin Holder (Photo by Elisa McKay)

Being a gallery owner, Deane said, “I see that there is room for each artist to work at developing the comfort of their style, yet pushing themselves into other dimensions to what can evolve with their craft.”

Cane Roots Art Gallery, 24 Company St., is the blue building close to the corner near Sunday Market Square and the home of the St. Croix Foundation.  

Visit Cane Roots Art Gallery on Art Thursday, Nov. 16, 12 p.m. through 7 p.m.

Tuesdays through Fridays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Augustin Holder will present his Artist Talk Thursday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m.

“Opposites Sides” Exhibit closes Friday, Dec. 8.

For more information:
FB: Augustin Kelvin Holder
IG: Augustin Kelvin Holder
Gallery: 340-718-4929


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