Next time you drive to Kaibo or Rum Point, there is a delightful sightseeing attraction that you won’t want to miss. However, if you don’t take the “long route” to the East End, it may just pass you by.
Davinoff’s Concrete Sculpture Park is in North Side on Old Robin Road (which turns into the Queen’s Highway) in an area that longtime residents call “Beyond.”
If you take the “short route” via Frank Sound Road and head toward Old Man Bay, once you hit the gas station you’ll come to a fork in the road. Instead of turning left toward Rum Point, turn right onto Old Robin Road, and before you know it, you’ll be greeted on your left by large-scale concrete sculptures of sea and land animals (and even a mythical creature or two) known to inhabit Cayman past and present.
The park happens to be a popular geocaching site and is free to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and makes for a short, interesting roadside stop for some photos and a walk-about before you go on your way.
The sculptor and owner of the park is David Quasius, aka “Davinoff,” who got his alter-ego from a vampire book he read while on island. Hailing from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Quasius and his wife Kathy have been visiting the island for extended periods since 1998, staying at her family cottage, which is nestled in the back of the park on the ocean side. The cottage was passed on to Kathy and her siblings by her parents, who had visited the island since the late ‘60s.
Quasius, a retired contractor and former accountant, wanted to find something constructive to do to keep himself busy during his visits to the island.
“With longer stays, I started to look for something to do to pass the time. I come from an artistic sort of family. My sister Sher is a professional artist of some renown in the States. It’s interesting that many people think I acquired my concrete skills through my general contracting work, but really I am self-taught, having picked up the technique working on family art projects back in Wisconsin,” he said.
In the early years, Quasius was in Cayman for only a week or so, and his sculptures were on the smaller side. The very first sculpture he made was a sea turtle in 1998, which can be found in the lily bed that simulates sea grass. It is situated among several smaller pieces that came shortly after, including a stingray, eel, and a mermaid with strung seashells for hair and broken pieces of wine bottles embedded into her tail (with a sea fan attached on the end). In 2003 he constructed a tarpon hooked to a real fishing pole. Nicknamed “Silver King,” its big silver scales are made of used oyster shells – more than twenty dozen – supplied by the bagfuls, compliments of Kaibo Yacht Club.
As the years passed, it occurred to him that if he placed the pieces near the roadside, more people could enjoy them. With that thought in mind and with the help of another talented concrete sculptor, Leo Verrett, who was visiting him from Minnesota in 2010, the first of the large sculptures was constructed. And it is still the first to catch the eye of visitors to the park or those driving by.
“‘Ivana the Blue Iguana’ was an instant attraction and great photo-op which I encouraged. For you see, by constructing the large pieces near the road, I have had the opportunity to meet many North Side locals and island visitors, both during constructing phases and chatting it up when visitors stop for pictures,” he said.
After ‘Ivana,’ Quasius was hooked and wanted to provide a more interesting stop. Enter “Romenio,” a 17-foot Cuban crocodile, which he constructed in 2011. This was followed by a gigantic land crab named “Clawdette” in 2012, and in 2013 came a slithering snake in a Plumeria tree who eyes a half-eaten concrete apple (which took Quasius longer to construct than the snake).
“Some will tell you my snake looks a little like the serpent in the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. I would venture to say that was intended, as North Side Cayman has always seemed to me to be like the Garden of Eden,” he said.
In 2014 he constructed “Aculeus,” a very large scorpion, as well as a concrete chicken named “Edna” who protects her chicks while trying to cross the road in front of the park.
This year he is in the midst of constructing a couple of new structures: two agouti statues side by side, and a larger sculpture of a mahi mahi feeding on a school of flying fish.
“One of my goals is to sculpt animals typically associated with the Cayman Islands. Thus, when visiting the park, one can see a variety of Cayman wildlife.”
Each sculpture has an armature made of either wood or rebar, which acts as a skeleton. The armature is covered by metal mesh, which Quasius describes as the muscle layer we have on our bodies to give it shape. The mesh is covered by two scratch coats of concrete, with a finished coat added to provide the desired detail. Small pieces take him a week to construct, while larger ones take three to seven weeks.
As he described it: “The real trick is to be able to build the armature so that you end up with the sculpture you see in your mind’s eye. Armature mistakes are not very forgiving.”
Quasius has chosen to keep the park free of admission because he loves seeing the faces of happy visitors and enjoys chatting with them while working on his masterpieces outside under a shaded tent.
“Who wouldn’t want the sounds of laughter and looks of amazement in their own back yard? It’s also something to pass the time and make my sister jealous!”
He also hopes to make the park more interactive for visitors. “Many kids have enjoyed the ride on the croc or climb on the land crab. Since many of the sculptures are super-sized, some people have referred to the park as ‘Jurassic Park – Cayman,’” he said.
According to TripAdvisor, the park is the number nine attraction in Cayman and the number one attraction in North Side.
“Then again, according to TripAdvisor, the North Side only has two attractions. We North Siders do not have Hell, the Turtle Farm, airport, Seven Mile Beach or 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.”