Pure Art on South Church Street is reintroducing its “Artist of the Month” exhibitions starting April 7 with works by Gordon Solomon.
Solomon’s oils on canvas range from 9-inch-by-12-inch originals in creative Cayman colors to larger pieces, according to Pure Art owner and artist Debbie van der Bol.
“He has been represented at Pure Art since he was a student artist, and Pure Art is very honored to be featuring his paintings this month of April, as he is now one of Cayman’s finest artists,” van der Bol said.
The gallery’s works will be specially rehung to feature Solomon’s work.
Titled “16 years of Pure Art,” the exhibition will include 16 paintings “reflecting where I am at as an artist,” Solomon said. “There are a series of different themes in the body of work in the exhibition.”
One of the paintings, “Bracker Head,” is of the Indian’s Head landscape on Cayman Brac, with a striking yellow sky and dramatic silhouettes. Solomon’s mother is originally from the Brac.
Another work depicting abstract figures holding violins in shades of fuchsia and red is titled “Backstage Butterflies.” It is part of a series portraying musicians and how they feel just before performing. Solomon is also a guitarist.
He said he is happy to be showing at the gallery since van de Bol has seen his work throughout his development stages. She was running Pure Art when Solomon was still in school.
“That is how long this place has been around, and I thank her for that,” Solomon said. “I was inspired by her ‘Marley’ piece and, when I first came to Pure Art, I was in an experimental stage of learning different mediums. It’s only natural for an artist to keep reinventing themselves.”
Local artists John Broad and Mark Frazer were art teachers at John Gray High School when Solomon attended the school. He still has some of his pieces from his school days and his original canvases.
After high school, Solomon worked for sign company Design Craft on Eastern Avenue, working with traditional hand-lettering and sand-blasted signs at the port and on Ugland House in George Town. He now teaches workshops at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands and has another exhibition “Doctor Moody,” featuring ink drawings at the gallery’s Dart Auditorium, which will be on show in September.
He reminisced about Morgan’s Gallery, which used to be in Galleria Plaza and which supported local artists by giving them a designated space to create as much work as possible.
“As an artist, you want to get the stress off your shoulders about promoting and arranging exhibitions. I am an artist and I need to be free to create art,” he said. “What Morgan’s did was great. Every three or four months, they had something coming up and they gave Caymanians a gallery space like Pure Art is doing now. We took advantage of that, and it shows you what can happen with some cooperation.”
Solomon believes that an important part of his talent is to give back, and he regularly works with charities such as Cayman Hospice Care, National Council of Voluntary Organisations and the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.
He is also donating two paintings to the National Trust for the Cayman Islands’ upcoming fundraiser, Hattitude, which will be auctioned to raise funds. The paintings are “Man’s Friend” and “Bed and Swing Set in Prospect” from his series D.U.S. (Dogs, Umbrellas and Swing Sets), which portrays Cayman’s hot and humid summers.
Solomon won the Cayman Islands Cultural Foundations Artistic Endeavor Award in December 2002, and the Silver Star Medal for Creativity in the Arts in November 2009. His works can also be found at the Cayman Islands National Museum, the Cayman Islands National Archives and the National Gallery.
Pure Art is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 949-9133.