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HomeNewsLocal newsLucien Downes Exhibits at Social Beer Garden Grand Opening Friday

Lucien Downes Exhibits at Social Beer Garden Grand Opening Friday

Bella 3, Mixed Media (Photo by Lucien Downes)

Contemporary art meets contemporary architecture when the Lucien Downes solo exhibit creates a synergy with the newly renovated 50AB loft building on Company Street in downtown Christiansted. The grand opening party starts Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. with live entertainment by DJ Chef Chevy, Miss Deri, and the Kwabena Trio. The party continues on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. with live entertainment by Gyasi Clarke.

Crucian contemporary artist Downes will show 12 pieces of his mixed media creations of resin, acrylic, resin fibers, raw pigments, plexiglass, inks, dyes, and occasionally found objects. “This is my first solo show in about three years,” Downes said. 

Bamboula: Mother of the Dance, mixed media (Photo by Lucien Downes)

His work will greet patrons as they walk through the front door and into the smartly constructed “Cafe 50″ and continue down the hallway. Downes’ work will hang in the cubicles in the “E Space,” a deluxe incubator facility for entrepreneurs and the like to work and grow at their businesses. At the back, the “Social Beer Garden” is just that — an open-air courtyard space to get social, relax, sip a beverage, and listen to music.

The Social Beer Garden courtyard. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Crucians Danny Deterville and James Eugene and St. Thomas resident Randa DeSuza are partners who are unanimous in their approach to bringing a people-oriented space for like-minded folks on a quest for networking and the betterment of the community while socializing.

50AB partners Danny Deterville, left, and James Eugene. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Downes entered and nurtured the partnership with his friendship and the idea that his fan base could connect to their fan base and the conversation took off.

With the weekend filled with his art, Downes will now curate future art shows that will continue the flow of the contemporary art genre and the build for 50AB Company St. 

There is much to be said about Downes, who is self-taught and works at earning a living and a life solely through his art. “I know how it feels to be in the big cities and not be recognized for my work. I did that for 19 years. I’m home on St. Croix where I feel the loyalty of the community that helps me to keep working to do my best and present it in its many forms,” he said.

His work is recognizable by the size and quality he employs through his use and diversity of mixed media and his creation of six distinctive styles he calls his own. His work brings a contemporary feel to everyday culturally significant subjects.

Contemporary artist Lucien Downes. (Submitted by Lucien Downes)

Downes has curated shows on St. Croix and St. Thomas. His “New Blood” art shows were successful in bringing unknown artists to the forefront who showed their work, sometimes for the first time. Many have gone on to “do their own thing” and have benefited from their relationship with him as a guide and mentor.

Deterville gives special thanks to David and Robert Schuster for their nod in his direction for the purchase of the building at 50AB Company St. It was a structure with floor tiles dating back to 1938 – tiles that Deterville would not remove because of their beauty and the nostalgia they bring in keeping with the old while building the new, he said. He saw the potential for the space that could and would serve his St. Croix community. 

A former chemistry and physical science teacher at the St. Croix Educational Complex High School for 10 years, Deterville is not new to entrepreneurship. His business D & J Gear on St. Croix and St. Thomas and a paint store, although in his past, nurtured his goal to continue as an entrepreneur in the ATM company he runs on St. Croix. And now, in the renovation and reconstruction into the gray two-story loft building that brings new light to downtown Christiansted. When he’s not doing all of the above, he has been WAPA’s environmental laboratory supervisor for the past 18 years. 

“I came from the projects in Williams Delight, but I tell kids, ‘You can come from the projects, and still accomplish things that are outside of that environment.’ I want to create a space within the community that kids can come to and identify with by interacting with the folks who come to our space and have positive networking ideas to share,” he said.

ESpace — the entrepreneurial cubicles. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

The larger cubicle at the end of the eight-cubicle incubator spaces will be outfitted for creating podcasts. All cubicles are available for rent. Anyone with an interest in creating a podcast is welcome to use that space. “We plan to create our own podcasts on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, writing, and more,” Deterville said.

The creation of four loft apartments on the second floor adds to the charm of the building. The apartments are rented on a short-term monthly basis and one is also available as an Airbnb rental. The interior metal floor is a new construction for the foundation of the second-story lofts. Full-size windows bring in the light when desired, yet keep out the distractions of the busy street below. Nothing can be heard. Air conditioning is provided and a washer and dryer are out of sight when not in use. A small office workspace is also offered. The kitchen boasts new appliances for the whim of the tenant and the full-size bedroom adds to the overall luxury and comfort of the space. Tenants entering at the side of the building are provided with parking spaces in the lot adjacent to the property.

Downes spoke of his friend Deterville as “meticulous and one who gives attention to detail” as he pointed out the wall of live foliage just inside the entrance and the steel arm-like shelves that will display T-shirts, mugs, and other items for sale that will share the name of the establishment. 

The live garden wall at Cafe 50. (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Cafe 50 is brightly lit with tables and chairs for the eatery and two upholstered chairs for lounging. Additional tables and chairs brought outside will create a sidewalk cafe. WiFi can be picked up throughout the venue. “He thought of everything,” Downes said. 

Cafe 50 hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with offerings of coffees, pastries, and other light fare, outsourced from six local vendors.

Espace cubicles are available from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. (closing time) and can be rented on a monthly basis.

Social Beer Garden hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., with live entertainment every other Friday and Saturday. Beer and cocktails and flatbread pizza and garlic twists — baked on the premises — are offered daily. Three local vendors outsource the Beer Garden. After Cafe50 closes at 4 p.m., easy access to the Beer Garden is at the side of the building toward the back of the property.

Materials for the renovation of 50AB Company St. have been purchased on the mainland. All of the workforce is local.

For more information: 340-690-0227

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