Author: events2030

Jamaican Artist Joshua Higgins

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Joshua has proved himself to be a Jamaican fine artist influenced, but not defined by his tropical origins. A 1978 graduate of the Jamaica School of Art, who continues to specialize in painting and drawing. As a graduate of the Jamaica School of Art, he understudied with Barrington Watson and Alex Cooper for several years after graduation.

In the early 70’s Joshua created agricultural literacy guides for JAMAL.  In the late 70’s he taught art at St Mary’s High School and Wolmer’s Boy’s School in St Mary’s Jamaica. In the early 80’s he lived in New York and worked advertising and model making. In then 90’s he led a mural project in south side of Kingston to bring literacy, training and peace to urban youth gangs.

Over the span of his nearly three decades in art;he consistently brings those influences to bear in processing his experiences through his paintings, which are characterized by passion, clarity, diversity and vigor. His current portfolio showcases a range of works that is as expansive as it is expressive, seemingly unhurried, yet never outpaced by the cosmopolitan global village in which he now operates. Joshua is vibrant, visionary, eloquent artist, who is rooted in the Jamaican community.

Joshua is currently using his experience to explore the assimilation his art with fabrics, laser and 3D technologies to further  his capabilities as a creator, which will  influence future generations of artists.

Joshua has been constantly promoting  change to the fabric of Jamaican society through the arts. Higgins’s art graces the halls of international institutions, organizations, banks and private collectors.

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Joshua is currently using his experience to explore the  assimilation his art with fabrics, laser and 3D technologies to further  his capabilities as a creator, which will  influence future generations of artists.

In February 2015 Joshua Higgins sponsored the premiere showing of “They Call Me Barrington”.The two-act documentary film is 50 minutes in length and is based on the life and works of Jamaica’s master painter Barrington Watson. The film  premiered on Sunday  February 1st at the Carib Cinema in Kingston Jamaica. The film is the second of Lennie Little-White’s trilogy on Jamaican icons in the arts. The first film was based on Rex Nettleford and the subsequent film will be based on Miss Lou.

Joshua Higgins Sponsors Film Showing

 

In 2013, Dr. Alafia Samuels & Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J Patterson celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the University of West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados by donating  Joshua Higgins painting “Enrapture”.

Dr. Alafia Samuels & Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J Patterson celebrate the University of West Indies, Cave Hill Barbados 50th Anniversary by handing over Joshua Higgins painting "Enrapture".

 

Enjoying the exhibition

So here is what went down  in the Toronto African Canadian Art scene in 2007 .

Celebration ! opened in honour of Caribana’ s 40th year anniversary and is a milestone event for both the gallery and the artist. That year marked the fifth year Studio Visuals had been in business in Corktown and the first time that Joshua Higgins had exhibited his art in giclee format in Canada. The art was exquisitely framed by Farouk our ever supportive framer. The vibrant colours and characters jumped off the canvas. As one viewer put it “A refreshing yet spiritual portrayal of Jamaica”. The another artist wrote in the guest book “Your work represents the more vibrant side of life and abstracts it complexities”.  Joshua has painted on a full time basis for the past 30 years using Jamaica as his studio which he describes as “a violent , dynamic, creative place, which is his muse”. Art from Jamaica of this caliber has never been seen in Toronto before.

Ms Anne Marie Bonner the Jamaican Council General in Canada (pictured in the photo receiving a gift from Josh and the gallery ) opened the event with words of praise for Joshua and his art.

It was a smashing event with Mento Music in the air. Appleton Rum sponsored the opening event in part with smooth libations and the ever dependable Welsh sisters threw down some wicked platters of food, which were gobbled up by the attendees and washed down with Sunshine Shakes from Ms Joanne Anderson .

 

 

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Written by Michael Edwards for the Jamaican Gleaner September 2010

One of the highlights for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on his recent visit to Jamaica was the presentation, by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, of a large painting by one of Jamaica’s leading artists. The Prime Minister made the presentation during a reception at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay. 

The piece, entitled “Unity”, was conceived and executed by painter Joshua Higgins, who said he used the opportunity of the commission to make a statement – in a positive manner – about issues of common interest to both countries.

“Whether you’re in Africa, Latin America or the Caribbean, in order to succeed in this globalized scenario, you need unity and co-operation. What I really tried to focus on with this work is what I visualize as the emerging class, in Jamaica, Venezuela or in any other developing country.That emerging class is seeking to achieve greater social mobility, to move up so to speak, through education and through increased economic activity. Basically, this painting speaks to a shared vision and consciousness and a belief in the possibility of a better life. I really feel that we as Jamaican artists need to first of all be more aware and then to reflect more of the socio-political realities that face us as people of the Americas in this day and age,”  Higgins  said. “Our neighbours in Latin America have been doing it and I think we need to do more in that regard.

The move to address social and geo-political concerns through art is one that the career artist hopes others will emulate.As cognizant as he is of the need to make such statements, Higgins also realizes the demands of the medium and the occasion.

Joshua noted that “It is important, in a circumstance like this, to be able to cut across linguistic barriers. In essence, the painting must have a language that is unique to it and yet a language that is universal, in the sense that the meaning can be clearly ascertained by any viewer regardless of background.

Reports are that the President was immediately taken with the canvas and that its message was indeed not lost on him.[/tab]

dancehall

While much of the attention at the recent launch of Dr Carolyn Cooper’s book Sound Clash was on the author, dancehall luminaries like Capelton and former opposition leader Edward Seaga, another Jamaican was making his mark on the proceedings as well as on the product.

In 2004, fine arts painter Joshua Higgins had the honour of having his work, entitled “The Dancehall”, chosen as the cover image for the book.

Higgins says the author was instrumental in having the image chosen and impressed on her publishers, New York-based Palgrave Macmillan, the appropriateness of the image for the work.

“She endorsed it from the beginning,” he says. “The publishers have their own art department and thousands of works that they could have chosen from or otherwise created on their own.”

Higgins further states that for his work to be chosen is an affirmation, not only of the ability of Jamaican art to stand up to the scrutiny of an international entity, but also that alternative avenues for promotion of the visual arts do exist and are fruitful with the right approach.

“The negotiation process was quite an intense one,” he says, “with several contacts between the publishers and myself. A professional approach on my part helped to sway the publishers to accepting the image.”

For her part, Dr Cooper said she readily put forward the image, which Higgins had given to her previously. “The publishers initially wanted to use some kind of computer-generated image, that wasn’t even showing full human figures,” she says.

“But I insisted that they use the image from Joshua instead and looking at it, they agreed.” She added that the publishers also agreed to the artist having his website address printed on the back cover.

“I think its important that our painters and writers go forward even as the music has gone forward and continues to do. Thus as the book succeeds then Joshua will succeed and we will have a model for other Jamaican artists and creative people to build their careers.

Dr Cooper’s previous work – the series Noises in the Blood also used Jamaican art works, particularly from Barrington Watson and Dawn Scott.

Josh Higgins & Professor Rex Nettleford take in Higgins's "Dance Hall" in 1990.

 

 

 

A Grey Matter Project

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The Corktown Collection of Creatives consists of a City Sky Memory Maker, an Urban Realist,  a Quintisential Quilter, an Errant Modest, a Visually Articulate Rebel, and a Purveyor of Pennies and Pearls. We are  sewn together through the fabric of life.

Sandra Sierra is the City Sky Memory Maker. A visual artist from Bogata Columbia, who focuses lately on the sky of the city where she was born. The theme of her work and painting has become a tool which allows her to maintain the connection with her memories. Sandra and I are some of the Mom costume creators behind our children’s school drama production of the Wizard of Oz. Sandra’s city themed abstracts will act as catalysts to trigger your memories.

Hollis Baptiste is an Urban Realist who perseveres as an Outsider. Hollis’  abstracts and surreal works illustrate a  subversive commentary with social and political messages. Hollis and I are Collaborators from the past. Hollis has explored masks, found objects and recycled materials for over 20 years.

Sau-Fann Lee is the a Quintisential Quilter and the evil genius behind the Handmade Hand-Me-Down Quilt Shoppe and empire.  Responding to the massive waste generated by everyday life (and growing children), Sau-Fann is trying to recycle and re-use as much as possible. Sau Fan subscription to the collection are beautiful up-cycled objects, that are functional as well as collectible. Sau Fan is my neighbour  in Corktown and  fellow children’s costume maker.

Yvonne Welsh is the Errant Modiste.  She is an Artist, Fashion & Costume Designer, Collaborator and the  Gypsy in search of the marvelous, to share with you. We are sisters creating products incorporating fashion and  design with the art from a small body of Joshua Higgins works. The Errant Modest is sharing her handcrafted accessories with you.

Joshua Higgins is the ever Visually Articulate Rebel artist, hailing from Jamaica. He is currently researching and developing his next major body of work using the mediums of digital photography, canvas and fabric. Joshua is my ardent supporter in all of my creative endeavors and contributes inspiration for this Grey Matter Project.

I am Sylvia Welsh, the Purveyor of Pennies and Pearls. I have been collecting beads and creating jewelry from my  travels for the past 25 years. I am offering  you an unusual combination of Sterling Silver, West African handcrafted beads, Pennies and Pearls.

I am also the Collaboration Curator and I offer you this Collection of Creatives.

Enjoy!!

 

 

Barrington Watson, Jamaican Master Artist Celebrates His 83rd Birthday

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On Sunday January 12th, 2014, Barrington Watson, Jamaican master painter celebrated his 83rd birthday at his home with a circle of select family and friends including, artists Alex CooperJoshua Higgins, Stafford Schliefer, director Lennie Little-White, and business men Paul Matalon and Bill Clarke. I am geographically challenged by my Toronto Tundra, and regretfully I missed the luncheon, beautifully organized by Barry’s wife Doreen. On the other hand, my man on the rock, who is geographically fortunate attended and reported on the events. So through my privilege of one degree of separation, I have the  honour of sharing some candid moments from the party. To ease my regrets, let’s take a sunny diversion down memory lane to the day when I met Barry and visited his home and studio at Orange Park Estate.

With my post secondary education in chemistry and medical laboratory technology I have never taken an art course in my life, so when I began to follow my dreams into art world it was an uphill challenge. After hopscotching through the Middle East and Africa, I decided to open an art gallery in Toronto. Serendipitously on a Y2K trip to Jamaica my sister hooked me up with the artist Joshua Higgins, who’s nude reproducion”Trilogy” had hung over her bed for years. On subsequents visits when we connected I stayed at Joshua’s  raw expansive studio on Camp road in the heart of  Kingston, so a drive to the country, to visit the homes of various artists along the way was defintely warranted.

Joshua always navigated the careening roads with the experience of an Indy 500 driver keeping me safe, yet just on the edge of nervousness. This particular day we headed through the mountainous parish of St.Thomas to the home where Joshua had apprenticed as a young artist in his early years. The conversation was entertaining and enlightening, you know bad boy antics stories that validated every biography of every famous male artist that I had ever read. Even under Joshua’s accomplished steady hands, I felt pitched and titled on the Yallahs cliffside roads of the lush green drive onto our final destination.

Orange Park, home and studio of Barrington Watson, this was the backdrop for the lusty bad boy stories. Honestly, I had never been in such a preeminant home in either Canada or Jamaica. Not even sure if I had my camera that day so I only have my memories to recall the essence of the visit. The Orange Park estate property is quite an expansive and well appointed location. Previously a coffee plantation the estate has a main house, a couple of tennis courts and  couple of cottages, and of course Barry’s main studio. The studio was brimming  with the quintessence of Barry and his life’s work. Barry has spent his life promoting  pan-Africanism through popular portraits of black leaders, creating narrative depictions of Jamaican life, and impassioned  nude scenes. A large scale paintings ” The Pan Africans” was being prepared for transportation, if I recall correctly this particular piece was going to the United Nations.  Leaders of both continental Africa and the Diaspora, large in life ready to step off the canvas. The visit to Barrington’s estate pulled back the curtain on elements of creativity which I had never considered or observed before. Barry has prospered successfully throughout his career and has benefitted from the luxury of living and working in such a fine location for the past forty years.

Last year the  National Gallery of Jamaica  honoured Barrington with a retrospective exhibition of his works and created an educational film. The film puts the artist work into perspective within the context of his Pan African philosophy’s, Jamaican post independence history and the relevance of the influential nature of the body of his works.  Please take a some time out of your day to learn something about Barry and see his work.

Thirteen years ago I believed myself to be much more sophisticated than I actually was, in fact several hundred hours later of self education in the Caribbean art realm, it is only now, looking back in retrospect that I have absorbed the honour and the pleasure of my one degree of separation.

Happy Birthday Barry!

 

Lets Look Way Back

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So let’s look way back at how Studio Visuals (which was a dream) came to be. It was just one of my dreams which I envisioned in 1993, when living and travelling in the Middle East and Africa, long before I met Mr Higgins . My travels made me painfully aware of how seriously lacking the Toronto the art scene was. By the time I returned to Toronto it was 1995, by the time recovered from my culture shock of returning to the west it was 1997.
By then Toronto had been blessed with Stella Fakiyesi’sSOF Art House, which was in the business of providing cost-efficient studio and darkroom space to photographers and Ken Montague who had Wedge; a photographic exposition in his home. Their spirit added to my growing inspiration.Their spirit added to my growing inspiration.
The reality of it all is that it takes about 10 to 20 years to build a solid reputation as an art gallery and you really need to be in the same place all that time. Renting or leasing a place was not an option. I had to buy a space and the business model would really be about investing in the building for the long haul , not selling art in the short run. Every night I would repeat my mantra over and over again “I need to find a space” “I need to find a space”. In 2002 I found that space and by then I had had saved enough capital to buy 503 Queen St East. After some pretty serious renovations (Mr Higgins and Welshie # 3 in the picture before the renovations.).Studio Visuals opened in Nov 2002 with the works of Issac Wanzama, Shawn Skeir & Joshua Higgins and the fashion designs of Yvonne Welsh-Talbot. Victoriously I had pulled it off, but the next 4 years would be a long hard haul and the subject of another blog.
So let’s fast forward to Summer 2007 and Celebration. Joshua & I envisioned Celebration! 5 years ago and believe me there were times I really believed it would not happen, but we pulled it off between Toronto, Kingston, Jamaica and Maryland. This has been the most successful show that Studio Visuals has ever presented.
In essence, innovative, dynamic planning and presenting art and artists who align with my mission and vision kept me sane and in focus . Yes there were many distractions along the way. I know my karma is good , because there were days when I wanted to sell this place, but the stars were aligned for me to keep it and not to mention this is what I wanted.I just could not picture myself living and working anywhere else.
I am glad that I adjusted my mission and vision over the five years so it gave me the freedom I needed to work with a wider variety of art and artists. As a result I have attracted and presented a well balanced program as dynamic as the planning has been. So at this milestone in the road it’s the right place to look back to the past, so that we can plan for the future. It’s time for a 5 year strategic plan. I was hoping to get the strategic plan writing experience at my day job , but looks like I have to put my gray matter to the test and being the key stakeholder and the main beneficiary of the plan it’s a task that I must take on for the continued success of Studio Visuals .

 

Caribana, Rum & Art in the Air

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So here is what has been going down in the Toronto African Canadian Art scene in the over the past week .
Celebration ! opened in honour of Caribana’ s 40th year anniversary and is a milestone event for both the gallery and the artist. This year marks the fifth year Studio Visuals has been in business in Corktown and the first time that Joshua Higgins has exhibited his art in giclee format in Canada. The art was exquisitely framed by Farouk our ever supportive framer. The vibrant colours and characters jumped off the canvas.As Stepanie Skrypnyk put it “A refreshing yet spiritual portrayal of Jamaica”. The artist Foluke wrote in the guest book “Your work represents the more vibrant side of life and abstracts it complexities”. Art of this caliber from Jamaica has never been seen in Toronto before. Joshua has painted on a full time basis for the past 30 years using Jamaica as his studio which he describes as “a violent , dynamic, creative place, which is his muse”.
Oh now back to the event …

Ms Anne Marie Bonner the Jamaican Council General in Canada (pictured in the photo receiving a gift from Josh and the gallery ) opened the event with words of praise for both Joshua and I .

It was a smashing event with Mento Music in the air . Appleton Rum sponsored the opening event in part with smooth libations and the ever dependable Welsh sisters threw down some wicked platters of food, which were gobbled up by the attendees and washed down with Sunshine Shakes from Ms Joanne Anderson .The past five years and the event could not have taken place without the support of Donna Hansen, Stephanie Skrypnyk, and our talented framer Farouk of Fanak custom frames on Eglinton Ave . Not to mention Corktown Neighbours were out in full force checking out vibe. Check out the website to see pictures of the event and the fabulous attendees

Celebration! will be on exhibit at Studio Visuals at 503 Queen St East , Toronto, Ontario from July 21st – Aug 19th 2007

Celebration in Honour of Caribana’s 40th year

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Joshua Higgins exhibition CELEBRATION ! opened up to a packed gallery with Mento Music in the air and the tropical touch of Sunshine Shakes under a tiki hut in the back yard. The event was a resounding sucess and a good time was had by all. The Jamaican music and dance themed art , a combination of abstract and realistic giclee prints on canvas & paper were well recieved and marks the first time Higgin’s work has been presented in Canada. Higgins’ art is mostly in corporate and private collection in Jamaica & North America. Special Thanks to Ms Anne Marie Bonner the Jamaican Consul General who opened the reception.

The reception was sponsored Thanks to the Welsh Sisters and Appleton Estate Rum.

Celebration is on exhibit from July 21st – August 19th, 2007

A Compilation Musical and Dance Themed Works

In Honour of Caribana’ s 40th Anniversary

July 21st – August 19th 2007