Christina Leslie's Portraits

N.L.S., A New Local Space

Deborah Caroll Anzinger's artist run residency and exhibition space in Kingston


Leasho Johnson's Provocative Re-interpretation in 'Canopy Guild'

Light Sensitive

Marlon James' black and whites

Annalee Davis: ON THE MAP

Caribbean Political Documentary

Friday, June 6, 2014

ON THE SCENE: Diversity Spreads in the Kingston's Art Scene

Members of the JA Cosplayaz in character and costume.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to attend a few of the art events happening in Kingston. From exhibitions featuring Hello Kitty to online events enabled by YouTube Live and Google Hangouts, there has been a range of experiences to be had. Our local art scene is not necessarily being compared with other more expansive and developed scenes overseas but it is being seen in its own context.

Sento-kun character inside the exhibition 'Japan: Kingdom of Characters'
The local micro-culture of youth involvement and and admiration of Japanese Manga and Anime would have been sated by ‘Japan: Kingdom of Characters’ now on at The National Gallery of Jamaica. The event even featured the budding society of teenage and college-age cosplayers who perform under the name JA Cosplayaz. The pop culture of Japan has obviously hit a nerve with them as their Facebook  group has 1,746 members and has found endorsement from the Japanese Embassy in Kingston. In addition the opening featured the newly formed local alternative Reggae band, The Sky is Broken, performed several songs from Anime sources in its original language. The exhibition itself demonstrated for the beginner a general survey of the history of Anime and Manga in Japan from the 1950’s and 60’s to the contemporary period. The objects, materials and audio-visual titles on display cover large toy collector’s figures such as Mobile Suit Gundam, life-size plushy suits of regional characters such as the city of Nara’s beloved character Sento-kun, miniature anime dolls, video projections of contemporary satirical animations like those made popular by Zuiyo Studios. This exhibition runs until June 14th.

Installation view of 'Canopy Guild' at NLS 

Leasho Johnson's reworking of Rodell Warner's imagery
In contrast to the scope of the show at The National Gallery, NLS currently features in their micro-gallery the results of a collaboration between local and overseas artists exploring the work of their resident artist, Rodell WarnerThe exhibition, Canopy Guild, started with an opening event on May 9th and runs until June 28th. The public may view the show by making an appointmentWarner began his residency by visiting various sites in Kingston to photograph aspects of the landscape such as tree formations and leaf clusters. The photos were then processed and reworked via Photoshop and became new imagery for digitally printing on fabric and applying by hand patterns to paper. This imagery and the source photographs also became raw material for the other artists to make garments, video, sound and paintings. One of the most interesting things about the show is how Warner’s work seems to encapsulate the space and draws you in by folding and crumpling the paper to form three-dimensional wall structures.

Booths setup on the grounds of The Chinese Benevolent Association

Andranique Morgan's ceramic works at The Liguanea Art Fair
Leaving from the contemporary art nucleus which the NLS show presents, the Liguanea Art Fair was open at the Chinese Benevolent Centre on June 1st for one day. The fair showcased dozens of artists and creatives who sometimes fall outside of the contemporary art scene in Kingston for various reasons such as geographic location, differing markets and tastes. There were also various artists who have connections with the Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts as Alumni or as Faculty. The scene was lively but relaxed with food, music and outdoor and indoor booths. The work on display ranged from hand-made instruments, to large colourful canvases, garments, miniature objects made from found materials and various eye-catching displays of hand-made local jewelry. 

Megan McKain's Jewelry Collection
It is a shame that this is only a one day event. It would be good if some kind of regular event could be organized for all kinds of creative pursuits to be made available to the public on a regular basis. The Liguanea Art Fair curates submissions as they seem to be distinguishing between what they want to offer and local craft market-style products. They do now have a Twitter account and Facebook page.

Documentation photo courtesy of Motza Motza (Facebook User) via Invisible Presence: Bling Memories Facebook Event page
NLS’s art radio’s last broadcast of the IN series discussed Ebony G. Patterson’s protest/ art happening staged behind the procession of the bands at the Jamaica Carnival parade. The Carnival’s Grand March happened simultaneously with the flash-style performance on April 27th. Planning and gathering of participants as well as the making of the coffin-shaped objects began months before the actual event. The performance proved successful in its shock-oriented strategy as local entertainment and newspaper style sections  gave air-time and page space to feature the happening. The effect is reminiscent of the unsettling feeling of the New Orleans funeral parade particularly of the scene from Live & Let Die. Apart from the flash aesthetic of the work with its multi-patterned coffins mounted vertically on poles transported by costumed participants, the effect conveys more serious intent. The artist talked about wanting to bring attention to the over 73 persons killed during the 2010 Tivoli Gardens Unrest in Kingston. The performance I would imagine, matched the brightness of the main parade as well as taking onlookers outside the Carnival experience.

Art events are ongoing in Kingston, particularly in the mid-Summer. We can look forward to the opening of the Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts’ Final Year Show on June 7th @ 6:30pm. Kingston Art on the Edge-fuelled exhibition ‘Social Atrocities’ is also coming up at Olympia Art Gallery on June 26th and. Did you attend any of these events or other? What did you think?