Every winter they fly south, from Wisconsin, Illinois, Canada, regions where snow falls, ice melts and dirty slush fills their driveways.
They’re known as “snow birds” or “winter birds” and many of them that land on our shores to hole up for the winter reside in quiet North Side, Old Man Bay and the Rum Point area. Like us full time residents, they spend their dollars buying groceries, eating out and purchasing other essential items. No question snowbirds enhance our economy. One winter dweller explains why he’s keen on North Side.
“Here we do not have Hell, the Turtle Farm, Seven Mile Beach or the George Town traffic … no roundabouts or blow holes … but we do have parrots, fishing, a constant northeast wind and now one small concrete sculpture park to call our own.”
Such are the words of David Quasius who has been making extended stays in Cayman since 1998. His wife, Kathy, made her first trip to Cayman in 1965, so their accumulated experience on the Island is quite extensive.
With each winter escape their stays became longer so David started to look for something to do to pass time when not fishing or snorkelling. He considered giving sculpturing a shot; concrete sculpturing that is. David came from an artistic sort of family. His sister, Sher, is a professional artist of some renown. David ran a family general contracting company back home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is known as “Davinoff” to close family and friends, the origin of that nickname is another story.
The sea turtle was chosen as his first sculpture, this followed with several smaller pieces including a mermaid, stingray and eel. In the early years he and Kathy only visited for a week or so, which prevented larger sculptures from being constructed. As the years passed and after David accumulated a number of pieces it occurred to him that if he placed the sculptures near the roadside, more people could enjoy them. With that thought in mind the first of the large sculptures, Ivana the Blue Iguana was constructed near the highway. Ivana was an instant attraction and great photo op, which David encouraged.
Constructing the large pieces near the road gave him the opportunity to meet many North Side locals and visitors to the Island. Following the success of Ivana, David was hooked. He had hit the big time. He was now the Michelangelo of Cayman… well North Side anyway.
In 2011, he constructed “Romenio” a 17-foot Cuban Crocodile and in 2012 came an XXXL Land Crab named “Clawdette”.
Clawdette is rather impressive, she looks so authentic one expects her to scurry off into the bush at any moment. The grouping of the various sculptures set amongst palm trees, grape trees and beach sand has become known as Davinoff’s Concrete Sculpture Park. Though new to Cayman, concrete sculpturing has been around for some time.
From the famous “Maiden with the Seagull” in Croatia to the statue of Christ the King overlooking Rio de Janeiro, this type of art often turns out to become a landmark, a point of reference or a way of verbal rout instruction. For instance, I’ve been told, “You can find Toms house by making the first right past the huge cement crab in North Side”.
Making of the sculptures is interesting by itself; you could call it a “cementitious processes.” Each sculpture has an armature made either of wood or rebar. That acts as the skeleton. The armature is covered by expended metal mesh, which is like the muscle layer we have on our bodies to give it shape. The mesh is covered by two scratch coats of concrete and then a finished coat to provide the desired detail. The real trick is to be able to build the armature so that you end up with the sculpture you see in you mind’s eye. The smaller ones take about a week to create … the larger ones three to five weeks. This year’s 2013 addition is a very large snake in a plumeria tree. David’s goal is to sculpt animals typically associated with the Cayman Islands, thus when visiting the park one can see variety of Cayman wildlife. David and Kathy welcome visitors. In view of the fact that their home is on the same property as the park please don’t leave litter and respect their privacy.