The exhibition of Virgin Islands art and artists at the Museum of the Americas in Puerto Rico is a step in the right direction. (See "Old San Juan Museum to show 20 V.I. artists' work" and also "San Juan show: 'A milestone in V.I. art history'".) But the exhibition is notable for who is not represented.
Elbridge Gordon, Ernestine Bertrand, Charles Axt, Edith Woods, Seitu Kenyatta (Andrew Johnson), Austin Petersen, Doreen Walsh, Les Anderson and Jim Tillett come to mind.
Continuing in no particular order, what about Wayne Hodge, Clifton Berry, Tezza, Karen Samuel, Ira Smith, Ray Miles, Paige Winter and Jamie del Prado (Jamie Hulse)?
Other heavy hitters include Ray Samuel, Coralls Malone, Rosemarie Francke, Bobby Kane, Shansi Miller and Tom St. Vincent de Coio. And while we're at it, don't forget Grace Ellis, Willie Reussner, Palle Mylner, Karen Bertrand, George Cogswell and David Francis.
I'll stop the list here for brevity. There most definitely is a Virgin Islands school of art, but it needs to be documented, curated and promoted, perhaps in a subsequent exhibition in Puerto Rico.
But I would rather see a Camille Pissarro Festival promoted by the University of the Virgin Islands to promote current and former V.I. artists and culture. That could be a win-win situation if it were done properly.
In the meantime, what about a retrospective exhibition for the first two artists on my list, Elbridge Gordon and Ernestine Bertrand? They both paint large, wall-shaking canvases of color that I guarantee will not get lost on anybody's walls. They are giants on the local stage (palette?) and had everything to do with creating the modern Virgin Islands art scene with their painting and teaching.
Keep swinging the brush, aiyou.
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