Cayman artists featured in show at George Town gallery

Members of the art community turned out for the opening of a new show at Awardart Gallery Wednesday night. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

Work by Cayman-based artists Sue Howe and Scott Swing is featured in “Graffiti Dreaming,” a new show at the Awardart Gallery in George Town.

At a Wednesday night opening reception, gallery owner Avril Ward said Ms. Howe and Mr. Swing are “two artists who I believe need their work showcased. I thought it would be a great show to have their two contrasting styles.”

Ms. Howe’s abstract paintings, many with a muted palette of colors, were indeed a contrast to Mr. Swing’s vibrant, graffiti-inspired paintings and sparkling sculptures of the human form.

Also known for her work in the performing arts with the Cayman Drama Society, Ms. Howe said her work in this show is a departure from the realism expressed in her past paintings.

“I really embraced abstract recently,” Ms. Howe said. “I really love it. I find it very difficult. It’s difficult to express yourself with just paint and motion.”

She said she was particularly happy with a piece called “Drifting,” a complex interplay of blues ranging from turquoise to mauve that also includes some texture from sand. The painting tends to pull the viewer’s eye into its limited open spaces.

“I tend to emulate a lot of water and sky,” she said. “I think it has depth and there’s a lot of different colors, but none of them stand out.”

Ms. Howe said she appreciated being able to exhibit her work in Ms. Ward’s gallery, which opened a year ago.

“It’s great to have a National Gallery,” she said, “but to have a private space like this is so valuable.”

Island artists, she said, have a limited number of venues for exhibiting their work.

Anne Mervyn was attending the show with her husband Bill. The couple has purchased some of Ms. Howe’s work in the past and Ms. Mervyn said she was impressed by the new work as well as the gallery space.

“We’ve lived here for 30-plus years,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see how much [the arts] has grown in Cayman. It’s wonderful to have a space like this that showcases the art so well.”

Mr. Swing said several other galleries that have opened in recent years were unable to keep their doors open. He’s hoping this one will be different.

“There’s a lot of people that collect art,” he said of island residents. “Sometimes they’re buying overseas. If there are more opportunities with galleries here, I think more people would recognize there are really talented artists on the island.”

Mr. Swing’s own art combines a number of different materials.

His abstract sculptures, most of which incorporate the nude female form, are made of concrete, steel, plaster resin and wax. The shimmering forms have a decidedly hard edge in their composition, combined with a candy gloss finish.

Similarly, his paintings incorporate layers of different materials and styles. Some start with spray-painted graffiti before being overlaid with other paint and even etchings, many of which are island themed, such as a farmer killing a chicken.

Mr. Swing’s earlier work involved carved sculptures using coral he found on Cayman’s beaches. His newer work, he said, hits closer to his roots.

“I grew up in New York,” he said. “I love graffiti.”

The work is on display through Nov. 24. Awardart Gallery at shop 13B Caymanian Village. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.