I mean to check out the show, and especially the Artistic pieces for Black History Month at the Photography Museum at Perry Bay here in Antigua. For more on Artistic, scroll down to read a recent article penned by me and published in the Daily Observer. And something you didn’t see in Observer, Artistic images:
By Joanne C. Hillhouse
If they were musicians, they’d be an alternative rock duo, rebelling against an arts scene that’s become a little too conventional for their tastes. Anson Henry and Zana Kentish even have the cool name to match. They are Artistic, and they’ll be featured in a show opening February 1st at the Antigua and Barbuda Museum of Photography and Fine Arts at Perry Bay. They’ll be spotlighting our National Heroes and some who to their mind could be Heroes, adding new pieces throughout the month.
Anson who goes by Jay and Zana who goes by Zee both started drawing in school; he at Antigua Grammar School, she at Clare Hall Secondary, both sticking with it at least through the Antigua State College before real life – art being seen as a hobby at best a waste of time at worst – saw them putting down their pencils. Yes, pencils, as this duo sees the world primarily in black and white, and the pencil is their preferred tool. In fact, if you visit social media you’ll find that one of the ways they’ve been known to promote their work is by showing the evolution of a portrait from blank page to first outlines to fully textured pencil and charcoal image. You’ll be able to see it live as well as sometime in the coming month they plan to set up in town and do free portraits to demonstrate what can be done.
Hard to believe, seeing the quality of their work and their obvious passion for it, that they were able to give it up for four year’s in Jay’s case and a whopping eight year’s in Zee’s – though since she worked in architectural design it could be argued that she hadn’t given it up altogether. In any case, Zee and Jay, one now a technical drawing teacher, the other now an art teacher, connected at Teacher Training. There, they began sharing their work with each other and collaborating.
Their schedules are different – “I draw better at night,” Zee said; “I can’t draw at night,” Jay said. The environment they need to work in differs – “I like the noise, music, anything that’s loud,” said Jay; while Zee admitted to finding music “sometimes distracting.” Their approaches are different – Jay, the more glaringly intense artist laboring hours (“days,” Zee countered) over a single detail; and Zee, a big picture woman buzzing with a million ideas, and who as Jay put it “can sit down and just draw” them all. She’s also the more social of the pair; though Jay admits wanting to be known for his art, Zee’s really the one responsible for pushing their work out into the world. “Whether or not he wants it out there, I’m putting it out there,” she said emphatically. But not only do they seem to work well together, they are genuine fans of each other’s work, making for a very supportive unit. “At the end of it, he knows what he really wants and the end result is always good,” Zee said of Jay’s work. Bottom line, an ability they’d previously taken for granted – and something they still say comes fairly naturally and easily – opened up a whole new chapter of possibilities thanks to a fortuitous meeting and chemistry.
Like a band, they bounce ideas off of each other, critiquing each other, effectively creating separately but together. “I may have an idea and there is an opportunity for an opening that can improve it; she’ll throw it out there,” Jay said, “so, it’s basically helping each other in terms of …” Here, my notes say “flaws” but I also want to write “flow” because it’s clear that like the band I’m analogizing them with, that they riff off of each other.
What makes Artistic work is the common goal of being producers of quality work – underline quality because they have no shortage of criticism for artists who don’t take pride in the quality of the work they produce. They also strive to do art that’s not same old same old, and with only a few exceptions such as the art of Mark Brown and Edison Liburd they’re not terribly excited by the local art scene. Both rave, instead, about the pencil and charcoal drawings of J. D. Hilberry who specializes in realism and illusion.
Their favoured styled and technique is what they call photo realism. It’s about, as Jay put it, getting people to look beyond this limited notion of what art is and what its value is. And like most artists, they want those who view or commission their images to have a profound emotional experience. Jay recalled one lady crying when she saw herself, albeit an idealized version of herself without the severe acne she had in real life, in one of their images. They’re also venturing into graphic design and other art projects including costume design and, in the case of Zee who cops to being a “dabbler” in different areas, craft. You’ll see as with their King Court drawing that they rebel somewhat against traditional interpretations of their subjects as well. All combined make Artistic one to watch, and you can watch them, and other local artists, all February long beginning with the 7 p.m. show, February 1st at Perry Bay.
As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C.
Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!), founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.