Christina Pineda sees good things around the corner.
“Cayman is so poised for artistic greatness,” she said. “There is definitely a resurgence happening.”
Pineda is the founder and director of Art Nest, which began as a summer camp programme three years ago and has grown into a multi-faceted operation with a studio and gallery space in the former Woods Furniture store.
Beginning a year ago, other businesses began to get involved. First, Spark Music School took over studio space for music lessons. In the past few months, Saucha Conscious Living opened its Conscious Cafe inside the Art Nest entrance and Avril Ward moved her Awardart Gallery to the site.
Pineda likened the arrangement to a club.
“It’s not the norm for so many businesses to work together,” she said. “We’re trying to be this beacon of art and community.”
She sees the collective as one part of an increase in the presence of art on the island and hopes the collective will not only generate interest from the public, but spur more artists to become involved.
Other artists are seeing a growth in the industry as well. An art party at The Space on Saturday, featuring five artists, drew a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.
Artist Marc Laurenson, who was in attendance, said he attributes part of the energised atmosphere to the influence the KAABOO festival had on artists. One element of the festival featured local artwork, as well as visiting artists doing live murals. Laurenson said he was surprised by the number of new artists that surfaced, hoping to be part of the event.
Pineda said she wants to be part of that continuing movement.
“Our initial goal was [to be] one of [the] catalysts,” she said. “Our current role is to set the pace.”
She said she wants to show Cayman what can be done to foster more art on the island.
The centre offers an array of art classes from toddler art to adult painting and drawing. There is also a dance studio and a planned ceramics studio. And there are regular events designed to give artists an opportunity to present their work.
Open mic nights are being held twice a month, featuring music and poetry performances as well as the opportunity for visual artists to bring materials and work in a collaborative setting.
Pineda, who founded and ran Cafe del Sol before selling it to go to law school and then practice law for two years, says there is much more to do.
“This is only about 40% of where we’re going,” she said of the current offering at Art Nest. “The idea is for it to become even bigger and have more impact and value on the art education in Cayman.”
Art opportunities were minimal when she was growing up in Cayman, Pineda said. Students in school got some fundamental exposure, but there were few outlets for a developing artist to tap into. To seriously pursue art, she said, one had to leave the island.
“I wish this had been around when I was growing up,” she said of the centre.
She made it clear, however, that her efforts are directed mainly at getting more people involved in making art than in developing professional artists. She said a class the Art Nest provides for seniors, with funding from the Department of Children and Family Services, has shown her the impact it can have. She’s seen people who are resistant to the idea of picking up a brush open up and enjoy the process, she said.
“The results we’ve seen are amazing,” she said. “Art does change lives.”
An open mic event is planned at 7pm on Saturday, 29 June.