2009’s thriving local arts scene

The local arts scene continued to thrive in 2009.

Starvin’ Artists Co-op

The latest art group, Starvin’ Artists Co-op, featured prominently on the exhibitions front with several shows of its own, as well as offering open hours for the public to view the art and meet the artists.

Towards the end of the year, the Co-op joined forces with Pirates Week organisers to include an art show in the national festival.

National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands continued to offer a diverse range of exhibits in various media to appeal to all ages and demographics.

The gallery’s first main event of the year was its annual [email protected] art expo on the lawns of Government House.

Visitors thronged to the event to learn about the up-and-coming artists on the local arts scene and revisit the work of crafts people and more established artists.

As a response to the weak economy, the gallery wanted to set up an Affordable Art Fair scheduled for November. Poor weather postponed the much anticipated event, which will now probably be held in the New Year.

In addition to these larger shows, the gallery offered such unique exhibitions as a display of street art with Up and Out, which began in November and is planned to show until February 2010; an exhibit of photographs of the Cayman Brac landscape from March to May by Canadian photographer Robert Scott Michiel; and an exhibit of 19th Century Jamaican prints, from the private collection of Pam and Hugh Hart from August to October.

In addition, the gallery hosted its second artists-in-residence show in June, featuring three local artists who worked for two weeks in the gallery before self-curating their solo exhibits.

A change of leadership came for the National Gallery as former director Nancy Barnard stepped down to focus on other projects. The gallery’s former deputy director Natalie Coleman was appointed as director in April.

Native Sons

The group of Caymanian artists who form Native Sons also opened the year with an exhibit at Morgan Gallery in February, one of the gallery’s last exhibits as it closed its doors not long after.

Visual Arts Society

The Visual Arts Society was active on the local arts scene in 2009. The group showcased the work of its members with an exhibit and display at the Society’s location in Watler House at Pedro St. James in May, before participating for the first time in the Island Living show in July.

The Society also introduced a seasonal featured artist, providing members with more exposure and to raise awareness of local artists.

The Society held several other exhibits, including an Art for the Palate exhibit in January to coincide with Cayman Cookout, and a No Painting Allowed exhibit for all media except painting in December.

Cayman Traditional Arts

Cayman Traditional Arts continued its partnership with the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, filling the resort’s bridge walkway with artwork, from the current My Cayman exhibit to the group’s Emerge exhibit in April, featuring many new artists in Cayman. Artwork by children who participate in Cayman Traditional Arts’ camps and workshops was also featured.

New art spaces

Meanwhile other, less conventional, spaces offered up their walls for art displays. Cafés like Full of Beans and Café del Sol both featured art, with Full of Beans hosting a new local artist each month and Café del Sol’s Camana Bay location showcased the works of Sandra Salangana and Joseph Betty or Gumba in their Zahir art exhibit. April Bending also displayed her work at the café.

The Crisis Centre hosted the art show, Womyn, and local office buildings such as Butterfield Bank and Camana Bay’s offices filled their walls with artwork.

International recognition

Local artists received international recognition, with John Broad having his work shown in the London underground and on the streets of Berlin due to his involvement with the art group Art Below.

April Bending travelled overseas to as far away as China to exhibit her works. Local costume designer Reba Dilbert also won recognition at the International Design Awards in February.

The next generation

To encourage the next generation of artists, the National Gallery and Cayman Traditional Arts continued their art classes and workshops and the student artists at St. Ignatius High School also put together the Verve exhibit in March, which showed the variety of talent available among its student body.

The RE/MAX art competition, sponsored by the Caymanian Compass and Audiophile, was held in March and April, awarded the top three drawings in each age category with prizes.

Kids were also recognised with the Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s Cayfest art and photography exhibit, which included age categories for children and adults. All winning entries were displayed in the Harquail Theatre throughout Cayfest in April.


Cayfest also brought a wider definition to the term art locally by bringing exposure to fashion designers with the Fresh! Island Couture fashion show, and by providing inspiration and information for upcoming artists with Dave Martins’ lecture on his life.