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Partying the 'Arty' way from Trinidad to Jamaica

Published:Friday | September 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew
Artists (from left) Taj Francis and Matthew McCarthy waste no time posing for our cameras as they aim to complete their paint piece.
College students, Chevian Morgan, Jeremy Lathan show their dancing skills to artist, Shaun-belle 'Roux' Campbell.
Shaun-belle Campbell, artist chooses chalk as her tool of choice for her art piece for Arty held September 22 at Chillitos Jamexican restaurant.
Alyssa Williams takes a break from appreciating Roux's final chalk-work.
(From left) Claudia Hesson and Maya Wilkinson sit patiently waiting to see the final pieces.
Trinidadian, Janelle Peschier engages Keegan Simon, promoter of Arty in deep conversation.

Trinidad-based artist, Keegan Simon returned to Jamaica recently to host Arty, at Chillitos Jamexican Restaurant. Simon, who is a past student of the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts (EMC), says, "It has been a long-time initiative to connect art and social life."

Simon graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from EMC, specialising in painting, but has since branched out into graphic designing.

"There has been a sort of disconnect with art and music in Jamaica on the premise that art is not usually showcased in a party setting," said Simon.

The first staging of Arty was held in Port-of-Spain, in Keegan's hometown, but the artist says, "Jamaica is my second home, and there's no way I could take the event elsewhere without thinking about here."

Though Simon spent only four years in Jamaica, the education received and persons he met through his studies had a great impact on his career.




"I also know how much the Jamaican culture appreciates art, so it is the perfect place," he continued.

The next leg of Arty will tentatively be in New York and Toronto, but young artists on the island are pushing for the event to be held again soon.

"I think it has the potential to grow, and Jamaicans should consider planning and supporting art parties. It doesn't have to be big, just creative, and interaction can start with a sheet of cardboard, paint and a little music," said Matthew 'Eye Dealist' McCarthy, Kingston-based street artist.

The aim is to host the event in various settings to see how art context changes in different places.

"I think a lot of people are of the misconception that art is elitist, that only a set group understand, like or can interpret art. And an 'arty' is a new way to influence social interaction and to show that people and art are not divided," said Simon.

Arty featured McCarthy as well as Taj Francis and Shaun-belle 'Roux' Campbell. Roux focused on abstract chalk art, while Francis and McCarthy coordinated on a more permanent image of a face done with paint.

"These events are needed, and can lead to great art collaborations between artists in the future," said McCarthy.

The artwork created by Francis and McCarthy is not complete due to the wide area that was chosen for the mural, but it is there for customers to visually enjoy. However, Roux's chalk piece may not have endured the recent weather conditions.