Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
IN THE heart of Kingston's inner city, Stanford Watson and his team of instructors are impacting lives through visual art expression.
For the last three years, Watson and other artists have pitched tents at a rundown building located along Central Avenue in the Kingston Gardens area, where they have managed to capture a group of young, gifted and loyal followers.
It's an art summer programme that has been dubbed, 'Summer Art on the Waterfront'. But instead of the sparkling blue waters and the cool sea breeze gushing from the Kingston harbour, there are zinc fences, an almost unbearable heat, and noise emanating from the different yards.
Never mind all of that though, because on the inside, there is a melting pot of talent, as the old walls of what used to be the Institute of Jamaica's building come alive with some brilliant and colourful art pieces.
Three years ago, Summer Art on the Waterfront outgrew its capacity at the National Gallery, near Kingston's waterfront, and had to relocate to its present location. The organisers have held on to the name since.
Each year, the three-week classes are funded by the MultiCare Foundation at no cost to students. The students who attend hail from several communities across Kingston and St Andrew, and include areas such as Havendale, Allman Town, Meadowbrook Estate, Fletcher's Land, among others.
This year, the group of 28 young artists have created some jaw-dropping pieces that have left even seasoned artist like Watson in awe.
"From looking at most of the work, what we see are artistic expressions of things they might have embedded in them that are coming out. We see things that speak to aspiration, things that some of them have in their communities, as well as. things they might want to see," Watson said.
He pointed to a graffiti wall bearing expressions such as 'call the police', 'so pretty', 'me waan help' to prove his case.
Eyes set on Clennon
Watson believes that most of his students have the potential to explode into the art world, but has his eyes set on one particular young man - Leshon Clennon, who hails from the Allman Town community. According to Watson, Clennon has the potential to make it big in art, should he continue along the current path.
"He has done some good work, and he has the kind of 'stick to it' work attitude and that kind of attitude is important," Watson said
The young artist, who attends Excelsior High School, said he decided to join the art summer programme out of his love for it.
"It's not that I didn't have anything to do, but it's something I love," he said, adding that ultimately he wants to become an auto-mechanic.
A guitar carved from cardboard with wings at both sides is just one of the many handiworks of young Clennon.
"What you see is a flying guitar, I decided to make a flying guitar to express music travels everywhere, that's my interpretation," he said.