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HomeArts-EntertainmentV.I. Contemporary Art III Exhibit Opened at Cane Roots Art Gallery Friday

V.I. Contemporary Art III Exhibit Opened at Cane Roots Art Gallery Friday

The Cane Roots Art Gallery entrance. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Fifteen Virgin Islands artists beckoned to over 230 patrons at the opening of V.I. Contemporary Art III at Cane Roots Art Gallery in downtown Christiansted on Friday. The exhibition is dedicated to the late Candia Atwater-Shields, Esq., founder of the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts.

Every section of the gallery’s walls boasted works of color, form and dimension — sharing the artists’ images of life and beauty and community.

It was a night to remember — alive with laughter and love and appreciation for the arts —  making a joyful noise at the west end of Company Street. 

Gallerist Sonia Deane and local artist/curator Lucien Downes worked together to pull off an exhibit worth seeing more than once. The synergy between the two curators has grown with each contemporary art exhibit they have successfully produced. The show is magical.

“Every exhibit elevates itself from the one before,” Deane said.

Sonia Deane (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Deane spoke to the expertise of curating an art show. “I was not trained as a curator, but I worked with children for 30 years as a teacher. I did not curate art specifically, but I was proficient in the skill of how things are placed and I had an eye for where they should be.”

Deane worked at the Essie Green Gallery in New York and with Green as her mentor, she learned and grew from that experience, she said.

Lucien Downes (Submitted photo)

Downes shared his delight in the annual exhibit. What began several years ago with his concept of “new age” art and how the Virgin Islands looks at it, the concept took on a life of its own, he said.

“This exhibit is the strongest of the three [V.I. Contemporary Art I in 2022 and Art II in 2023] with very strong artists from across the territory coming together under one roof,” Downes said with the sound of joy in his voice. 

Nine of the 15 V.I. Contemporary Art III Artists are represented in Part One:

El’Roy Simmonds was born and raised on St. Croix and has been working at art for many years. His journey has taken him through life as a teacher, entrepreneur, musician, sculptor, and visual artist. 

Simmonds has been recognized internationally to the Fine Arts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Denmark, New York, Haiti, and beyond.

“Most of the artists in this show are new to me and much younger than I. Their work is good and they have promising talent,” Simmonds observed.  

Simmond’s “Night Sun” uses primary colors and geometric shapes in his expressionistic style, showing the sun in the night reflecting in the water.

Night Sun, acrylic on canvas by El’Roy Simmonds. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Vicki Rivera works primarily in acrylic on canvas. Her work is inspired primarily by the island of St. Croix, she said. 

A self-taught artist, Rivera is known for her interpretive portraits and is recognized by the bright colors she “is drawn to and likes to play with.” 

Rivera has been a retired MD since 2014. She picked up a paintbrush in early 2015, and by the middle of that year, she exhibited three pieces of art. She moved from watercolor to acrylic and has shown her work all over St. Croix.

“I am honored and blessed to have my work in the traveling exhibit, ‘Absolutamente Negro,’ that showed on St. Croix, and also in Loiza, PR,” a center for African-inspired traditions, settled by enslaved Nigerians of the Yoruba tribe in the 16th century, and retains one of the highest percentages of African descendants of all island towns. “It is a very honorable and incredible place.” Rivera’s family has seen her work on St. Croix and where they are living in Puerto Rico, she said.

Decompression, acrylic on wrapped canvas by Vicki Rivera. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Tamara Michael has been doing art since “I stopped eating the crayons.” She works in acrylic and mixed media. “I like to work fast, so I paint straight out of the tube.” 

Michael works on 24-inch by 36-inch canvases and sometimes larger ones. She is working on a five-footer right now, she said. Michael has shown at the Children’s Museum and the Water Island Musical Festival on St.Thomas. She shows mostly at CMCARTS, and you can see her mural art around the island, including Sunshine Mall. Look out for Michael’s next mural on the water tower at Victoria House on Strand Street in Frederiksted.

St. Croix is our home and an amazing place to love and to work, Michael said.

Captured Butterfly, acrylic by Tamara Michael. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Danielle Kearns is a quilter, a painter, a potter, and a jeweler. She brings to this show her quilt of African batik that she framed with the help of a friend. “I felt it could stand alone. It’s a portal into another portal,” Kearns said of her “Cosmos Africanus” piece. 

This show is the first for Kearns in several years, but patrons look out … new works from this gifted and multi-talented artist are coming soon!

Cosmos Africanus, cotton and West African cotton batiks by Danielle Kearns. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Gerville Larsen began his artistic journey as a six-year-old with pencil drawings. Right here on St.Croix, he attended the School of the Arts at 15 years old and worked under the tutelage of the prolific artist Paul Youngblood. With his studies in architecture, Larsen was privy to art in that environment.

“I see art as a vehicle of inspiration to convey an emotion or a feeling or an issue that affects the community. It should be provocative and make people think,” Larsen said, pointing to his entry in the exhibit.

Depending on what he’s conveying, Larsen works in oil, watercolor, or mixed media. He would like the community to see art as being multifaceted — as a vehicle — not only for the beauty that it offers, but also as an expression of issues with certain levels of aesthetics that can actually convey messages. “There’s nothing wrong with seeing the beauty in art, but I would like people to see the other side of that … where it could be more,” Larsen said with a lot of expression in his voice.

His mixed media offering, “… a misnomer, The Myth” will make you think!

“…a misnomer, The Myth” by Gerville Larsen. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Eliana Schuster-Brown has been doing art her whole life and has been a professional artist for four years. 

“I am honored to be among the great artists in this exhibit, and I feel I’m growing to be asked to be in this show,” Schuster-Brown said. “My art portrays women — Caribbean women, West Indian women. It’s great to be in a show where I can showcase what I love to create.”

Fabric of my Being, mixed media by Eliana Schuster-Brown. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Jeffrey Condit has a background in all kinds of photography that nurtured him for the visual arts. He joined his dad in commercial photography in 1970. Due to his dad’s training, his knack for making quick decisions has carried over into the work he does now, Condit said.

“I’m not wired to do architecture or straight-up photos. People want an edge, and I want to give it to them,” he shared.

Condit and his wife moved from Portland, Oregon two years ago and he is immersing himself into the community. 

He works primarily in collage with imagery. He prints on film and mounts on canvas with acrylics. “I try to make it look more painterly. So, If things get ‘dinged up,’ and I don’t like it the next day, I can take my X-acto knife and peel it or pull it off. And then there might be a shape I like. I’ll put something there or around it, or sometimes I’ll use that technique for positive or negative space,” Condit shares a sweet laugh out loud.

Jump Up, mixed media by Jeffrey Condit. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Joyce Hickok has been showing her mixed media masks in many exhibits on St. Croix. “I feel really good about being in this show with all these fabulous artists and so happy that my mask, ‘Nature’s Delight,’ sold before the show opened,” Hickok said with an expression of joy. 

Hickok’s process can take weeks, she said. She starts with the structure and figures out the kind of face she wants to create using all-natural materials that she applies and lets it sit for a while. “I know the mask is done when it has a personality.”

Nature’s Delight, textiles, palm seeds, beads from Ghana, shell, feathers, wire by Joyce Hickok. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Lucien Downes is a Caribbean artist and curator who works in large-scale mixed-media art and is well-known for his murals. His ancestry of Trinidadian, Bajan, and Crucian roots brings forward a culturally rich consciousness, which emanates in his art.

Downes utilizes mixed media to create depth and dimension to his work. He is self-taught and recognizes his gift from the Creator. 

“Kundalini” and “Serenity 3” are his mixed media offerings in this exhibit.

Serenity 3, mixed media by Lucien Downes. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

The exhibit closes Friday, April 26.

Cane Roots Art Gallery is open for Art Thursday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Gallery hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m.

For more information:


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