Last Sundays: February 24, 2013 – Black History Month

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present its Last Sundays programme for February 24 in celebration of Black History Month. We are collaborating with the Jamaica Association of Dramatic Artists, to present a programme of movement, music and dramatics that pays tribute to the National Gallery’s visual art space, Reggae month and Theatre.

This special programme will start at 1:30 p.m. and will be presented in various parts of the Gallery, featuring performances by Ruth HoShing, Oliver Mair, Jerry Benzwick, Tribe Sankofa, the Quilt Performing Arts Company, Hilary Nicholson and others.

Visitors will also be able to see the critically acclaimed 2012 National Biennial exhibition and a special performance art piece by Ebony G. Patterson, which is featured for the last time before the Biennial closes on March 9. The permanent exhibitions will also be open for viewing.

As is now customary, the National Gallery is open every last Sunday of the month, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with free admissions and tours as well as special programming in the afternoon.

National Biennial 2012: The Way Art Makes Me Feel (and Think), by Deanne Bell, Ph.D.

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This perspective on the 2012 National Biennial was contributed by a visitor to the NGJ, Deanne Bell, Ph.D. It is the second of several perspectives from staff members and viewers we intend to publish.

I return home to Kingston to work on my dry-cleaning business. The days are filled with entrepreneurial responsibilities; fine tuning operations, responding to customer concerns, managing resources. It is difficult to know what I feel. The world of capitalism requires this numbness in order not to question its premise or link it with the poverty and brokenness I see in people’s bodies everyday.

I go to the National Gallery on Ocean Boulevard for the opening of the 2012 Biennial and twice, again, in January 2013. Brazilian politician, writer, and theatre director Augusto Boal (2006) observes that aesthetics can play a role in instigating emotion where the ability to feel is atrophying. Continue reading

Last Sundays: January 27, 2013 – featuring Better Mus’ Come

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The NGJ is continuing its Last Sundays programme, whereby it is open every last Sunday of the month, in addition to its regular opening hours, and will thus be open to the public on January 24, 2013, from 11 am to 4 pm.

As a special feature, the NGJ will be screening of the Jamaican feature film Better Mus’ Come (2010), which will start at 1:30 pm. Better Mus’ Come is a dramatic love story framed by a fictionalized account of the political violence of the 1970s in Jamaica. Directed by Storm Saulter and written by Joshua Bratter, Paul Bucknor, and Storm Saulter, the film has received significant acclaim and received the Best Feature Awards at Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and Bahamas International Film Festival, the Best Director Award at the Pan-African Film Festival, and the Best Actor Award at American Black Film Festival. The film has also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the British Film Institute. The African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) recently announced the launch of its new label, ARRAY, dedicated to multi-platform distribution of black independent film and the label’s first acquisition is Better Mus’ Come, for all US distribution rights.

Visitors will also be able to view the 2012 National Biennial, a special performance piece by Ebony G. Patterson and the NGJ’s permanent exhibitions. Storm Saulter is in one of 86 artists represented in the Biennial.

As has become customary on Last Sundays, general admission and tours are free on that day. The film screening attracts a contribution of $ 200 per person and seating is limited to 80 persons in all, to be admitted on a “first come and first served’ basis. Tickets for the film can be purchased in advance from the NGJ – please call 922-1561 for more information.

National Biennial 2012: Conversations in the Gallery (or a Few Curatorial Notes)

This perspective on the curatorial aspects of the 2012 National Biennial was contributed by Nicole Smythe-Johnson, Senior Curator at the NGJ. It is the first of several perspectives from staff members and viewers we intend to publish.

Shoshanna Weinberger - Collection of Strangefruit, gouache & mixed media on paper, 18 panels, ea. 51 x 42 cm

Shoshanna Weinberger – Collection of Strangefruit, gouache & mixed media on paper, 18 panels, ea. 51 x 42 cm

Contrary to popular opinion, the business of placing works of art within a gallery space is by no means a simple, straightforward or even purely aesthetic matter. In fact, it is a very deliberate affair, often preceded by months of debate and planning. Though the role of curator has gone through almost as many changes as the definition of art, this is one thing that remains constant; the necessity for the creation of a conversation (between the works themselves and/or between the art and the public) and provision of a context that will best facilitate a work’s articulation of its truth.

Stefan Clarke, Life; Faith/Love/Death, digital print, right panel of triptych, ea. 76 x 243.6

Stefan Clarke, Life; Faith/Love/Death, digital print, right panel of triptych, ea. 76 x 243.6

A Biennial, particularly of the kind we currently have mounted at the National Gallery, presents an additional challenge to curators. The whole point of the exhibition is to have a range, to give a snapshot of the artistic landscape in Jamaica and across her diaspora. We want as many artists, forms, ideas as possible to be represented while maintaining a high standard of quality. However, it also means that the creation of conversations and the establishing of relationships between works is even more difficult. How to tease out connections and resonances from such a variety? Far less, a variety that was not selected by the curatorial team but by a largely external jury (in the case of the juried entries) and by the artists’ themselves (in the case of the 50 invited artists). A curator can feel a bit uneasy, waiting to see what comes in, hoping that the works will be amenable to being moulded into an exhibition that is varied but also cohesive.

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National Biennial 2012: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan wins the 2012 Aaron Matalon Award

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Dreaming Backwards, mixed media - detail

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Dreaming Backwards, mixed media – detail

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce that Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, jeweller and sculptor, has been awarded the 2012 Aaron Matalon Award. The Aaron Matalon award is presented at each biennial to the artist who in the opinion of a jury comprised of the members of the Exhibitions and Acquisitions Committees of the National Gallery of Jamaica has made the most outstanding contribution to the biennial. Jasmine Thomas-Girvan is represented by two mixed media sculptures: Dreaming Backwards, a wall-based assemblage, and Occupy (Alchemy of Promise), which is freestanding.

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan - Dreaming Backwards, mixed media - detail

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan – Dreaming Backwards, mixed media – detail

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National Biennial 2012 – Musgrave Tributes: Ebony G. Patterson (Bronze, 2012)

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Ebony G. Patterson was awarded the Institute of Jamaica’s Bronze Musgrave medal in 2012 and, as has become customary, is honoured with a small tribute exhibition in the 2012 National Biennial. The following is the citation that was read as the Musgrave Award Ceremony at the Institute on October 10, 2012:

The Institute of Jamaica recognizes Miss Ebony G. Patterson for merit in the field of Art.

Ebony G. Patterson is one of the most compelling emerging talents in Jamaican art. After graduating from the Edna Manley College in 2004, she obtained her Masters in Fine Arts at the Washington University in St. Louis in 2006.

Ebony G. Patterson - Untitled III (Khani and Krew, From the Disciplez Series, 2009), mixed media on paper, Collection: Herman van Asbroeck

Ebony G. Patterson – Untitled III (Khani and Krew, From the Disciplez Series, 2009), mixed media on paper, Collection: Herman van Asbroeck

A regular exhibitor a the National Gallery since 2006, she had her greatest impact to date in the Young Talent V exhibition, with photographically derived, embellished tapestries and the decorated body of a car mounted on a plinth as a “sculpture.” Hers is a uniquely Caribbean aesthetic that melds elements of “high” and “low” art and draws from carnival costuming, Haitian sequined flags, and above all the “bling” of Jamaican Dancehall fashion. Always concerned with issues of gender, sexuality and the body, Patterson’s current work explores changing notions of masculinity in Jamaican society.

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