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Arts for the Parks Raises Awareness and Funds for Abaco’s National Parks

The annual Bahamas National Trust Arts for the Parks took place on the weekend of January 27-28 at the Abaco Beach Resort.

In its eighth consecutive year, the Bahamas National Trust Arts for the Parks has become more than an art exhibition, it has also become a learning experience offering presentations on local culture and environment as well as entertainment for adults and the youth.

Stephen Albury’s famous local turned-wood bowls are always a crowd pleaser.

There, established artists and vendors could rekindle the interest of their followers and new exhibitors could harbour the hope that their creations would provide them with supporting patrons.

On Friday evening, people shopped for sail cloth purses and bags from Hope Town Canvas, pens made of local wood by Leo Bethel, bowls from Stephen Albury’s display of decorative local turned-woods, or chocolate candies from Bootleg Chocolates, among many other displays of art, crafts and treats.

The staff of the resort circulated with trays of hors d’oeuvres. Complimentary glasses of champagne were served at the bar under the tent while the atmosphere livened by saxophonist, Rashad “Sax Man” Reckley.

Under the Pavilion, and the adjoining tent, close to forty vendors – mostly artists and crafts persons – displayed their wares. As people walked from stall to stall, should they become familiar with the creative displays in front of them and could discover the innate culture of The Bahamas and the souls and spirituality of its inhabitants expressed in paintings, sewn articles, artistic photography, jewelry, music and more.

Returning exhibitors, such as Brigitte Carey, Ritchie and Roshanne Eyma, David Lowe or Francoise Hedden were renewing themselves with new style, or new subjects. Many younger artists were introducing new techniques and media, such as lighted etched glass drawings by Davon Bootle, or three dimensional paintings by Rupert Watkins from Grand Bahama.  Young Lucas Kaighin exhibited many pieces of abstract paintings while Antoine Edmond, recently discovered at the Ministry of Education’s Art Exhibition held in Nassau, displayed a large painting of a seascape and portraits in pencil.

The use of locally found raw materials such as shells, sea-glass, platted straw, or wood reflected the interest of participants with Abaco’s natural surroundings.

‘Quilts and More’ by Vonda Bethel displayed a large assortment of Androsia fabric items; Cathy Laing and Brenda Bain had chosen local shells for their creations. Photographs by Gabrielle Manni highlighted the local environment with beautifully lit shots. As usual, the local sea fauna had inspired silversmith, Peter Bradley.

Under the tent one could find home-made jams and sauces at the Fruity Freddie Farm stall; several vendors offered local honey. Juices from native fruit trees, honey and preserves were sold as a fund raiser for the High Banks Volunteer Fire Department. An assortment of air-plants and drift wood creations as well as live plants and pepper jelly were sold by Laine Snow.  Among the produce, and worth noticing, a display of jewelry by Julie Sawyer who offered necklaces and bracelets created in mixed material such as sea-glass and semi-precious stones.

The Saturday events included the Rotary Club of Abaco’s Chalk Art Festival along the water front.

A talk on Bush Medicine by Richard “Blue” Jones illustrated with fresh medicinal plants as well as a presentation by Colon Curry on the art of Junkanoo from costume making to parade protocol, attracted a crowd in the quiet bar room adjacent the main viewing gallery.

Back in the Pavilion, next to her stall of ceramics, glass jewelry and painted signs, artist Kimberley Roberts demonstrated how to melt glass to make jewelry beads.

The Bahamas National Trust offered material on local flora and fauna and T- shirts. A large quilt to be raffled and donated by Kimberley Roberts decorated the back of the stall. Friends of the Environment was represented and a couple of volunteers informed the public about the latest restoration work on the Elbow Cay Light House.

Door prizes and raffle tickets were on sale during the two days of the show. Items donated by participated artists were offered at silent auction tables.

This year, the participation of several artists from Grand Bahama and New Providence as well as exhibitors from the United States added to the diversity coming out of the Abaco art scene.

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