July 28, 2008 — The Society of Caribbean Artists (SOCA) gave almost 200 people an inside view of how their art is created Sunday at Fort Frederik. The artists presented a cross-discipline exchange of music, dance, painting and documentary film making. The program was called "Artist Circle" Art Fest.
"Artist Circle" is the first in a series of programs SOCA will present quarterly. In this first show at Fort Frederik, the artists shared in workshops and talks, the creative process and the steps taken to produce a completed piece of art in all mediums from music to films.
"The beginning of a series is always the hard part," said Norma Krieger, founder and director of SOCA, adding that she felt the first installment had been "terrific."
SOCA, a visual arts organization, is made up of a group of artists based at Fort Frederik Museum, founded in 2006 by Krieger and numerous St. Croix artists.
The artists donated their time in the free program with the aim of educating people about their art forms.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Johanna Bermudez-Ruiz gave a showing of "Vieques: An Island Forging Futures." The documentary, in Spanish with subtitles, depicted the peaceful resistance movement against the bombing practices of the U.S. Navy in Vieques.
Phyllis Biddle, an art teacher at Good Hope School, gave watercolor painting lessons to children and adults. Paints and brushes were supplied and participants brought in paper and a picture of what they wanted to paint.
"This was my first time doing watercolors," said participant Judy Malloy. "It was a good opportunity and I learned a lot."
Under a tent in the courtyard of the fort, the seven-time Calypso King winner King Derby said he extemporaneously creates songs on any topic. An audience member said, "Lets hear a song about WAPA." On the spot, playing a ukulele, he was able to come up with a catchy tune, singing, "WAPA you raise the bill higher than the highest mountain."
A couple dozen paintings and sculptures were on display in the newly renovated gallery.
Curliss Solomon-John, of Jumbie Productions and wife of Mocko Jumbie Guardian of Culture Willard John, had on display four mocko jumbie mannequin like sculptures. The outfits created by Solomon-John were done with lace, metallic braid, sequins, mirrors, shells, and glitter fabric paint on organza, cotton and brocade material.
There were shadow boxes with recycled and reclaimed materials such as stamps, wooden spoons, safety pins and jewels done by Lourdes Neugart.
Sue Snow displayed a portrait entitled "Girl From Freedom City" done with oils in soft shades of browns and tans.
"Descending" was the title of an acrylic on linen done by Preston Doane. Judy Bolden-Baine showed woven rattan, sissle and shell mocko jumbie figures.
A panel discussion on the creative process and how it works for each panelist was held with Monty Thompson, Mike Walsh and Bermudez-Ruiz.
"My creations are a very personal response to the world I'm living in," said Walsh. Walsh, metal sculptor and owner of Walsh Metal Works, has recently created a piece with plastic bags.
Thompson, dancer, choreographer, founder and director of Caribbean Dance Company said he gets a dance idea in his head that brightens, is fun and makes people feel wonderful.
Bermudez-Ruiz said her creations are a dedication of her heart telling of the culture and humanities of people.
The panel also discussed the lack of funding for the arts and the lack of knowledge of the arts among those who control the purse strings.
Per Ankh Neteru dance and drum ensemble performed on the seaside lawn of the fort. Junie Bomba on the conga and Eddie Russell, horn player in the Quelbie Latin Jazz Band also entertained the crowd.
Artists showcased include Lourdes Neugart, Phyllis Biddle, Danica David, Sue Snow, El'Roy Simmonds, Preston Doane, Pedra Chaffers, Ademola Olugebefola, Marjorie Robbins, Yemaha Jones, Avelino Samuels, Willard and Curliss John, Chouquette Giraud, and Judy Bain.
The artists' works will remain on exhibit through Aug. 27. There will be a wine-and-cheese closing reception at 6 p.m. Aug. 27.
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