A painting by local artist Randy Chollette has been chosen to represent the Cayman Islands at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games during a 35-day festival period celebrating the creative strength of Pan American countries.
The Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, Canada, organized the event, called “Watercolour,” which runs from July to August.
Chollette’s “Therefore the Sage …” a 4-foot-by-5-foot oil on canvas painted in 2012, is the painting selected. He has provided a digital image of the work to be printed on fabric and incorporated on banners and boat sails navigating across Lake Ontario’s shoreline from Oshawa to Welland.
The festival aims to transform various “celebration sites” with patterns, symbols, colors and textures that reflect daily life and traditional culture in the participating countries, said Anna Richard, the curatorial assistant at the Textile Museum of Canada.
“The heart of the city of Toronto is built at the edge of the lake, and many of the major events of the games, including the opening and closing ceremonies, will be down near the waterfront so many people will get to enjoy Watercolour,” she said.
She added: “We feel that Randy’s work embodies the warm and friendly nature associated with the Cayman Islands. The energy and dynamic color range of ‘Therefore the Sage …’ will make this work stand out.”
The Textile Museum was commissioned by the Pan Am Games Arts and Culture Commission Fund to undertake this project and select the 42 participating artists.
Representatives of the Textile Museum saw Chollette’s work in an article in Real Life magazine, and selected it for its unique quality.
“It is an honor to be chosen by the Textile Museum of Canada to represent the Cayman Islands in this way, and I appreciate it,” said Chollette. He said he is grateful for the international recognition and for the opportunity for his work – which represents the true Caymanian cultural experience – to be seen internationally.
Carey Garrett, who owns Chollette’s original painting and coincidentally lives in Toronto, is thrilled that the painting was chosen to be featured at the Pan Am Games.
“One thing we love about Randy’s work is his adventurousness in trying new styles of painting,” said Garrett, an art collector. “What we really love about this painting is the expansiveness at the top of the painting created by a backdrop of the night sky with the moon and stars.”
The full title of the painting is a quote by Lao Tzu: “Therefore the Sage wears rough clothing and holds the jewel in his heart.” According to Chollette, it is about “mankind’s journey to enlightenment … we are a small piece of the whole and it is the spirit that is everlasting, not the mirage of the flesh.”
The Garretts have another Chollette painting, “The Empress,” at their condo in Cayman.
When Cayman Weekender visited Chollette at his studio in East End, he was working on a work titled “Love is,” featuring a central abstract figure holding a sign that says, “Love is the Answer;” images of water, which represents the flow and rhythm of life; and a catboat in the sky.
“There is a rhythmic flow to painting, and you have to catch the flow,” Chollette said. “When I am using technique, I am forcing the painting. Technique can get it done, but when you catch the flow, it is something different. You don’t even have to think, you just feel where to put the brush, and I just feel what color to use – you feel everything. The paint looks like it’s moving and has a life of its own – shining and moving.”
Other recent works to be exhibited in an upcoming one-man show include “Bird Untitled” and “Sea Grape Breeze,” which demonstrate Chollette’s intricate textural palette work with a smooth shiny finish and vivid colors.
“There is something that’s very Caribbean, yet at the same time universal, about Randy’s work,” said Sara Collins, another collector of Chollette’s works. “For me, each painting seems to resonate beyond the space of the actual canvas but to contain its own moment of epiphany. I was at first drawn to the vibrancy and the use of color, but the more I live with his paintings the more I realize they tell profound, quiet stories that are just below the surface.
“I’ve also been struck by the fact that different people see different things in each painting; each visitor to our home remarks on something unique and, in a way, personal to them. He’s one of the best artists around in my opinion.”