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HomeNewsLocal news“The Color of Light” Exhibit Opens at Cane Roots Art Gallery Thursday

“The Color of Light” Exhibit Opens at Cane Roots Art Gallery Thursday

“South Wall” acrylic by El’Roy Simmonds (Photo submitted by El’Roy Simmonds)

“The Color of Light” exhibit at Cane Roots Art Gallery in downtown Christiansted will cast its glow along Company St. on Art Thursday, 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The glow will continue through May 26, Tuesdays to Saturdays, 12 pm to 5 pm.

Patrons will view the works of El’ Roy Simmonds and Niarus Walker – two generations of Crucian artists – empowered by their “love for the same field of expression.”

What was an “unconscious effort on the part of each artist” developed into a display of generational art complementing each other in the “expression of light and shadow, and the vibrancy of color.”

Born and raised in Christiansted, Simmonds went on to earn a BA degree from the College of the Virgin Islands [CVI],  now the University of the Virgin Islands.

(Submitted Photo)

“As an exchange student at the Kuntz Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark, I conducted research on the history of the relationship between Denmark and the US Virgin Islands, which is reflected in my work,” Simmonds said.

By 1985, Simmonds earned a Masters in Fine Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, where he worked with live models for drawing, painting, and sculpting. He returned home to teach until his retirement in 2008.

Simmonds is highly recognized for his background in multiple endeavors: fine artist, teacher, musician, entrepreneur, and sculptor. He is a culture bearer who has shown his work internationally in the fine arts arena in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Denmark, New York, Haiti, and many other locales.

Simmonds took a look at the color, shape, and line in the architecture of the Frederiksted Fort and pursued the question, “what happened here” in his exhibit last year, “If Walls Could Talk.” “It’s surreal when you think of listening to what went on inside those walls during slavery and the Danish empire. “Of course, we can imagine what went on…but if those walls could talk.”

He shares his architectural paintings in “The Color of Light” and his figurative, abstract, geometric form of “Miss VI America,” which complement each other and are both of generational value. 

Miss VI America acrylic by El’ Roy Simmonds (Photo submitted by El’ Roy Simmonds)

“‘Miss VI America’ wears the clothing of the older generation. She is a proud senior citizen who wears her ‘best’ hat as she goes out for the day. Her attire is in contrast to the clothing of the students of today in Walker’s painting,” Simmonds said.

“My work, whether figurative or still-life, is about generational memory,” Walker said. “It’s recording, passing down. It can be fear, pain, or joy, and when expressed to the family or the children, whatever has shaped you, has shaped them. These generational memories are connected to identity.”

“Riveted” graphic by Niarus Walker (Photo submitted by Nairus Walker)

In her paintings of the students, she sees them building their sense of self, their identity, she said. She sees beauty about the moment.

Walker sees the light in both her work and Simmonds’ work as complementary and generational. “El’Roy and I are ‘old school’ in our aesthetic. We like to work with light and shadow.”

A visual artist, art educator, and curator, Walker was born in Dominica, WI, and migrated to St.Croix as a youngster. After high school graduation, she earned a BFA from Moore College and an MS in Art Education from Florida State University.

Niarus Walker (Photo submitted by Chalana Brown)

She has been an art educator on St.Croix at the middle and high school levels for 25 years. Walker has exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally, including in the United States and Denmark.

“I am beyond honored to exhibit with an artist like El’ Roy. He is old school like artists [Leo Carty] and [Anselm Richards]. He’s a master draftsman with detail. He doesn’t use ‘tech’ to get his work out. I look up to his abilities, his techniques. We have similar ways of looking at things in terms of color and form,” Walker said. “He is my elder.”

Gallery owner Sonia Deane expressed her joy at the reality of both artists coming together in the intergenerational art form display at the gallery. 

“Of Great Interest” oil by Niarus Walker (Photo submitted by Niarus Walker)

“El’Roy has used the ‘old’ architecture of the fort and Niarus has used the ‘new’ identity of the youth. They are the future – the leaders of the Virgin Islands – a whole new generation going forward. Many generations have passed through the fort from slavery to freedom, with it remaining steady, getting stronger and moving forward.”

“The Color of Light” is a study of the two generations of the artists, their works and all the generations in between, Deane said.

“There is strength architecturally in the fort – it still stands – and there is strength in the young people in their own identity – they have their own style and culture, their individuality. The youth stand on great shoulders – standing like the brick and mortar – they are the strength of our future,” Deane said.

“The Color of Light” poster (Submitted Photo)

The community is invited to the opening reception of “The Color of Light” on Art Thursday, March 16, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The exhibit runs through May 26, Tuesdays to Saturdays, 12 pm to 5 pm, or by appointment.

For more information: 

canerootsartgallery.com

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