After a visit to the beach on Sunday, I was refreshed and ready to get back to the interview project Monday, where Tamika, Fabian, Rashid and I visited Gallery Alma Blou to speak with the curator there, Lusette Verboom. The Gallery started off as a small souvenir and gift store, and it has since grown and developed into an art gallery and local craft shop located in Landhuis Habaai. It was a pleasure to speak to Lusette, who is not only passionate about supporting the arts, but about making them accessible to the public. Interestingly, while a few of the others I have spoken with noted some resistance from the public in engaging with and valuing contemporary art, Lusette mentions that the gallery has sometimes received a negative response from artists themselves, who oppose her choice to have a craft and souvenir shop alongside the gallery. They feel that it lowers the tone in some way, but Lusette disagrees; apart from the point of sustainability and having a means for the gallery to earn revenue through the interest in the gift shop, she also believes that there should be a measure of respect for the skills of local crafts-persons from fine artists, and that the commercial goods also act as a way to broaden the patronage of the gallery.
Before conducting my next two interviews, Holly and I decided to have an evening out…it didn’t quite go as planned, due to some confusing Google maps and a sold out film at the cinema, but we did get the chance to take a walk through Willemstad. Crossing the Queen Emma Bridge – which floats on the water, supported by sixteen pontoon boats – connecting the Otrobanda and Punda sides of the town, we had stunning views of the city by night. The music and open air cafe we passed created a great atmosphere for a stroll through Punda, and it was nice to see the area in a different light.
The final two interviews before our interactive Ustream project, were with Tirzo Martha and David Bade, artists and co-founders of the IBB. Preceding the live stream which featured both of them together, I spoke with them separately in their respective studio spaces about their work and the inception of the IBB. Tirzo currently has a studio on site at the IBB, while David has an area set up for his painting at home. I asked both of them about the impact of teaching and running the IBB on their personal practices, and both see it as more of a help than hindrance; Tirzo said having his space on site helps to inspire the students, setting an example for work ethic and creativity, and David views the IBB itself as a piece of art. They are using it as a catalyst for social change – a theme heavily embedded in both of their general concepts. Rather than focusing on projects or exhibitions which have a starting and ending point, the IBB is an ongoing piece, which continuously gives back to the community, both with the students that pass through the gates and the interaction with the patients at Capriles Clinic. This sets the scene for a new generation of artists, and nurtures a new way of thinking.
My final post will be on its way this week, where I’ll recap the regional Ustream broadcast Creatives in Conversation, and assess my trip on the whole. I think what Fresh Milk and the IBB have begun here, and the topics we have touched regarding communication and Caribbean ties are the start of something very important, and that we are on the way to building a critical and game changing path for the regional art scene. More on this later!