The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) in conjunction with Abaco Beach Resort and other corporate sponsors held its 6th Annual Art for the Parks from Jan.23-25.
Eric Carey, executive director of BNT, explained that Art for the Parks provides funding and helps BNT maintain its six national parks and protected areas on Abaco: Abaco National Park, Walker’s Cay National Park, Black Sound Cay Reserve, Tilloo Cay Reserve, Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park and Fowl Cays National Park.
Carey observed that most of the booths were occupied by artists, and that there had been good participation from Abaco artists. On opening night, more than 270 people were in attendance.
“I thought last night was exceptional – it was a great party, a great event – and I know the artists sold some stuff,” Carey said. “I saw people walking out with art, I’ve seen a lot of sold items, and Kent [Leboutillier] sold her boat, which I’ve seen here for a couple of years.”
Carey added: “This is an important event. We do a lot of work, we have a lot of parks to manage, we do environmental education and support general environmental issues on Abaco, and we have staff on Abaco – all of this requires funding.”
More than 30 local artists and artisans including students like Joshua Higgs, Brandon Pinder, Doussen Russell and Vinesha LaRose. Also on the list were Heritage Lectures, a special children’s craft area, farmer’s market, and a host of fun-filled and entertaining activities.
Among the artists making a debut was Ann Morley with her panoramic paintings of magnificent aquamarine-hued waters of The Bahamas. She called her collection – Abstract Modernism – Oceans & Waters of The Bahamas. Mrs. Morley is the wife of legendary Bahamian artist Anthony “Big Mo” Morley.
Mrs. Morley shared that her watercolour paintings were in stark contrast to the beauty of the wildlife and lush vegetation of her country – Guyana. She began painting two years ago, but her attendance at Art for the Parks was her first show and part proceeds from her sales went to St. Francis de Sales Catholic School where she teaches.
Also making her first appearance was Liann Key Kaighin, owner of Emerald Organic Farms. She shared a booth under the name of Emerald Art with her son, Lucas Kaighin. Proceeds from their sales went to his school, Every Child Counts (ECC), and Emerald Organic Farms.
She was pleased with the event noting that she had sold more original pieces than prints.
Liann revealed that she has experimented with watercolour paintings for 20 years, and had no formal training besides a few day classes with local artists. Her appearance was two-fold: she was able to share her work with a diverse audience, and she wanted to encourage Lucas, who had begun painting watercolour and acrylic paintings at the age of three.
There were a number of framed masterpieces displayed in permanent artist ink that she had started working on in August 2014, and she had accumulated quite a collection. Some of her work can also be found at Hummingbird Art Centre and Gallery in Hope Town.
Near the entrance, Peter Bradley of Conch Pearl Galleries had an assortment of sterling silver and gold jewelry arranged on his table. The jewelry depicted marine life with turtles, seashells, starfish, sand dollars, sharks and fish. One of the more interesting pieces of jewelry incorporated the tusk of a wild boar. For him, the attendance was down from last year because Saturday was usually a better day for business in the past.
Roshanne Minnis-Eyma of Eddie Minnis and Family Art Gallery explained that this was her family’s fourth year participating, and that opening night was traditionally worked in their favour. Nevertheless, she said the flow of customers had been ok, and her mother Sherry Minnis nodded in agreement. Many comments were derived from her work in progress, which was a painting of two boys shooting marbles in the yard, and of course the paintings that depicted Bahamian life with sailboats, water and our rich culture.
Two Brown Girls owners Kara Butler-Wight and Colette Bootle were also on hand. Since November 2014, the duo sell their creative crafts out of Fine Living Home Collectionin the Van Stratton Insurance Building.
Their product line includes luggage tags, toiletry and make-up totes, jewelry pouches, quilts and pillows among their bedroom accessories and baby quilts, baby bags, bibs and accessories in a variety of colour schemes that are perfect for baby showers. The products made from fabric are machine washable on the gentle cycle. Kara announced that the business will be offering children’s clothing in the Spring because they are in great demand.
Two Brown Girls’ products incorporate Bahama Hand Print and Androsia material as well as straw work. Colette showed how she combined straw with lace, ribbons or embroidery to make a one-of-a-kind handbags.
She also had straw cushions on display, and wallets that opened up to reveal attractive, colourful fabric in its interior with sections for credit cards, cheque books, a cell phone, change pouch, dollar bill holders, pens, etc.
Colette was proud to showcase her cook book that she dedicated to her mother Maryann Thompson and Kim Sands from Java Coffee Shop. The trivets on her table were quilted at the base with bamboo on top, and driftwood frames were also on display.
As for their Sunday comedy show, Carey said he expected Bahamian Comedian David Wallace to attract people because he is good at what he does.
“So hopefully it will tell us what to do on Sundays because it’s a slow day, so let’s see if he brings the people out, and if he brings them then it may be something we do every year,” he said.