AS you move along Ariapita Avenue and Tragarete Road, look up, or you might miss a free art exhibition put on by the Port of Spain City Corporation.In mid-December, the corporation erected 19 banners of printed art by various artists – both amateur and professional – around Woodbrook, in its first drive-through exhibition.
Event co-ordinator and exhibition organiser Michelle Hart said she saw something similar in London three years ago and has been conceptualising the drive-through exhibition since.
Casually, she would mention it to mayor Joel Martinez, but never had the time to organise it. But since the pandemic halted all events, she was able to focus on the show. In mid-November, she approached the mayor again, and he insisted on having the show as soon as possible. Within a month she had organised the artists, banners and sponsors, got Town and Country Planning approval and T&TEC put up the banners to put on a show for the public in Woodbrook.
"People have been saying they look like Carnival banners," Hart told Newsday in an interview. "It's great to look up and see the art...I've been getting calls still. We could still put up more banners if people are still interested. People are saying we should do it all year. It is brightening up the city."
One nun, Hart said, went walking with her friends to view the exhibition. Because it is outdoors there is less danger of people gathering and the public can view it from the safety of their cars.
The show paid a licensing fee to each artist to display their work. There was no specific theme: Hart just collected art from people who were interested. Wendy Perriera-Aqui, a director of the Art Society, was the curator of the exhibition.
Among the artists are Newsday's graphic designer Warren Le Platte, Charlene Chattergoon, Joy Luk Pat and Chris Anderson.
Residents of St Jude’s School for Girls in Belmont, through the NGO Chosen Hands therapeutic art programme,
also contributed a piece called Float, Fly Fearlessly and Then Evolve. That can be seen on Tragarete Road.
John Williams is a 39-year-old with Down syndrome. His mother went to a sip-and-paint event and took him along. While there she discovered he was artistic, and helped him cultivate his creativity, particularly during the lockdown.
Hart was able to find Williams through the Down Syndrome Family Support Network.
"He was painting so beautifully."
His painting Panorama Comin! can be found on the corner of Ariapita Avenue and French Street.
The next event Hart will hold will be a panel discussion on the exhibition on TTT about the importance of visual arts on the psyche during stressful times such as the pandemic.
At the end of the exhibit, Hart and the organisers will donate a portion of the sponsorship money to the Mayor's General Fund for the revitalisation of the city. This money will go towards assisting socially-displaced people through the St Vincent de Paul Society on Duncan Street.
Neo pop artist Halcian Pierre struggled with her mental health during lockdown.
Speaking to Newsday via Facebook Messenger, she said: "When the lockdown began I was extremely depressed because all my art-related work came to a screeching halt. I was worried about everything possible, from bills to basics. I won't go into details about my losses, but I am forever grateful for the people in my circle because they all made sure we had food and ensured the lights stayed on and the water kept flowing."
During lockdown she painted Hope using acrylics and gel pens
– her favourite medium
– on a stretched canvas.
"It took me a couple days to play around with how she would be placed, given the dimensions. I wanted to do something that was colourful and able to evoke feelings of positivity and joy.
"We are all still shell-shocked from covid, honestly. It was my hope that people would look at her and connect with the message that she is bringing, that we cannot just give up. There is still a chance. Just believe and have hope."
While Hope is for sale, she is enjoying having the piece in her studio.
"She's definitely one of my art children, lol. As artists, we all have connections with what we create. Some come from the head or the heart or both. It's a feeling and direction that brings something tangible and tactile into being. They all feel like my babies, my children."
She is extremely proud to be included in the drive-through art show.
"Any venture that gives our country's artists an opportunity to be visible, actively contribute and celebrate our craft at the same time is always welcomed, embraced and appreciated, believe me. The attention art in the city has gotten so far has all been beautifully positive, and every artist is still on a happy high from it."
The exhibition will run until the end of February.