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Jamaica Art Market Review | August 2018


The growth of interest in art as an investment has long been met by resistance from members of the art community who oppose the aesthetic value and symbolic meaning of art becoming a “speculative object” (Velthius and Coslor 2012) and from the financial community which hesitates to recognize art as a valid asset class citing the market's lack of liquidity, transparency, and measurability.

We would do well to shrug off that Renaissance Ideal carry-over of the patronage system which dictated that the making of art was a form of spiritual devotion and a noble good devoid of any financial value (Geraldine 2016).

And in so doing pave the way for droit de suite: the right for artists or their estate to receive a fee on the resale of their works of art.

Photo: Claude Fletcher, Culture Clash, 2018

Art and finance combined when the Jamaica Observer featured an item in its financial pages about the former head (1987-2004) of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, regulator Wain Iton's interest in art and in becoming an art dealer. He says: “Art is the richest asset class in the world and has a fair amount of snob appeal. Imagine, a piece of art can be worth sum of up to US$100 million. And so art is very important to civilisation and human development. And so my goal is to bring Caribbean art to the world.”

Iton joins the fledgling ranks of those who believe that the art market holds great promise as a viable investment. Scotiabank (itself an avid collector of Jamaican art), articulated this in 2002 when its then CEO and President William Clarke at the opening of Gallery Barrington, spoke to the importance of recognizing art as contributing to the Jamaican economy and again in 2006 when their wealth manager Anya Schnoor spoke* of the great potential for art to contribute to individual wealth, support local economies and build the art industry through art appraisal, sales consulting, art insurance, curatorial services, and art secured lending services.

At the time, Scotiabank did not offer art finance advisory services, but may have inspired interest in art finance by other local investment firms such as MINT Investments who combined a gallery with more conventional financial investment services and helped to promote the idea that art should be part of one’s prudently diversified investment portfolio; Mayberry Investments who in an 2009 investor forum invited clients to a presentation by the chairman of the National Gallery of Jamaica and businessman Wayne Chen on "Investing in Art"; and Sagicor Investments whose "Cocktails and Canvas" event in 2017 was used to highlight how art can be used as an investment tool.

Iton's injection of enthusiasm into the art market, is welcomed especially if it is sustained by his considerable skills in market research, price forecasting, and risk management which can only serve to further the art market’s development.

*Copies of speeches and reports are available by request.



Hank Willis Thomas (American, 1976 -) An Unidentified Jamaican Boy Used the Puma H Street Running Shoe to Run for his Freedom, 2005, Digital C-print, Edition: 5/5, 51.5 x 65.5 in. (130.8 x 166.4 cm.)

Just in time for Jamaica's 56th anniversary of Independence the fifth edition of this Hank Willis Thomas print became available from the Los Angeles gallery TAG ARTS (contact the gallery directly for price information). The new owner of this work will be in good company; the Rubell Family Collection (RFC) - one of the world's largest private collections of contemporary art, is a serial collector of Thomas' work, including the second edition of this print (the first of course, being reserved for the artist himself).



IT TAKES CASH TO CARE | The first paragraph of the Gleaner article says it all. "It takes a lot of energy and resources to turn a hashtag into a movement. It takes even more to turn that into an economically viable, culturally contributing entity. For Kingston Creative, the wheels have been oiled and the sails hoisted, and they are well on their way. As the well-meaning group of art lovers, makers and purveyors move into the next phase of their journey, they have announced a 'hairy audacious' goal -- to raise JMD $20 million." But help is on the way. The Gleaner also reported that there are members of corporate Jamaica who have listened to the call for help in developing the arts and are assisting with funding; namely, the CB Facey Foundation and the Jamaica National Foundation.





Photographer and artist Kianne Patrice's chance encounter with writer Jamari Lori on on a Kingston Creative Art Walk event has landed her work on the pages of a Pictures, a German photo magazine. The article relates the powerful moment which inspired Patrice to commit to her art and shares her iPod Pro art-making process.

TO READ | Visual artist Ebony G. Patterson discusses the importance of teachers in an interview about understanding what an education can and can’t do for you. The article appears in The Creative Independent an excellent "growing resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people".

Television Jamaica's Smile Jamaica facilitated the installation of Edna Manley College's 2018 graduate Tiana Anglin's Metroparadise which explores the "value of art and its integration with the built environment to tell the story of space and place". See the full expression of the 8' x 53' mural illustration on the past, present and future of downtown and watch a great interview below. While Anglin demurred on the price of the work, which is available for sale, an enthusiastic Neville Bell ventured a price of $3,000,000.00 and is encouraging the Airport's Authority and Grace Kennedy to consider its purchase. Anglin, however, welcomes all inquiries.



GRANT OPPORTUNITY | Grant applications are now being accepted - through October 2019 - by the CB Facey Foundation, PANJAM Investment's charitable arm, for programmes or projects within the arts that target specific audiences. The Foundation was created by the late Maurice Facey, renowned businessman and philanthropist who, with his wife Dr Valerie Facey, was a generous patron and visionary collector of Jamaican art

NGJ DEVELOPING ART WRITERS | The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) staged the fourth edition of its educational workshop, WRITIVITY, for Grade 10 – 11 students, preparing to sit Visual Arts examinations for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).

CALL FOR ART SUBMISSIONS | For an exhibition to be held in November 2018 at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies focusing on positive male role models. Contact the Institute for Gender & Development Studies for more information.

REORGANIZING | Oettinger Davidoff AG will realign its sponsorship activities and in this context will conclude the 2012 launched Davidoff Art Initiative, by the end of the year. Albertine Kopp, responsible for the Davidoff Art Initiative, is dedicated to continuing the initiative’s efforts on behalf of art and artists in the Caribbean in a new organization, with a new program. Read the full release here or myartguide's more fulsome interview.

AWARD | Congratulations to Conard Stone, whose work Knowledge, (above) won the First Place Jury Prize (and $250,000) for the Most Outstanding Entry in Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's 2018 Jamaica Visual Arts Competition. Read more here about Stone's work with "Ligi", the tough lignum vitae wood that is the medium for his work,and about his teacher Lancelot Bryan from Old Harbour's Might Gully Youth Project.

INITIATIVE | Tide Rising Art Projects is an Oneika Russell lead initiative aimed at documenting and promoting local and regional contemporary art practices to gain visibility for the great work being made. Their latest video (at left) features the Blaqmango Consultants team of artist Katrina Coombs and art history lecturer Winston Campbell who have been adding to the renewed art activity in Kingston.

INSTALLATION | 106 kickstarter backers pledged USD18,070 of the USD15,000 goal to make possible Ebony G. Patterson's “...called up” site specific installation at Harry M. Gilkey Pool, Swope Park, Kansas City, MO, for @openspaceskc curated by Dan Cameron. The long-abandoned hydrotherapy pool for children (left) was transformed (above) into a memorial for those who suffered from incurable ailments before penicillin was developed. Read more about the project.

AQUISITIONS | Dr Julie Crooks, assistant curator of photography at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) --- and one of only three curators of Caribbean descent working at a major art institution in Canada (the others being Michelle Jacques at the Victoria Art Gallery in B.C. and Gaetane Verna, the director of the Toronto Power Plant) --- invited a select few Toronto power-brokers to a vault view of objects from the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs. The AGO is interested in the acquisition of the entire collection which documents life and land in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago during the 1880s-1940s, a time of monumental change for the region.



Pictured from left: Karl Parboosingh, Barrington Watson, A.D. Scott , Rex Nettleford and Eugene Hyde at the August 9, 1964 opening of the CJAA, the Contemporary Jamaican Artists Association.

We give thanks for these Jamaican sons, Karl Parboosingh (1923-1975), Barrington Watson (1931-2016) and Eugene Hyde (1931-1980), who in the absence of a national museum of art formed the Contemporary Jamaican Artists' Association (1964-1974) — Jamaica's first artists run co-operative which uniquely targeted the local market for awareness, appreciation and purchase of contemporary Jamaican and other art.

All three were educated abroad and had become professional artists in their own right before returning to Jamaica to help shape its post-Independence artistic identity. Rex Nettleford (1933-2010) who officially opened the exhibition recalled 'sharing the excitement and challenges of negotiating with a society that was yet to have confidence in itself, (and was) yet to defeat the philistinism that was aboard even among the stocious'.

The CJAA's success was due to its access to important social and corporate patronage leveraged by its Chairman AD Scott (1912-2004) , a business model that negotiated 25% commission on sales, subscription fees, friendly opening hours (1-9pm weekdays + weekends), a coffee-shop and framing services at its space on Constant Spring Road as well as external lectures, festivals and projects that brought art to the people.

The CJAA's demise came after its valiant strides toward an even larger centre for artistic practice and cultural, intellectual and commercial exchange to be located across from Emancipation Park, were undermined by a curious series of business manoeuvres — the result of which stands today at The Gallery Apartments, a residential complex on Oxford Road.

A must-read on the subject is Claudia Hucke's Picturing the Postcolonial Nation: (Inter) Nationalism in the Art of Jamaica 1962−1975 which "examines the relationship between art and nation-building, highlighting the varied ways art was used to not only define Jamaica but to promote and brand a Jamaica that was as innovative, rich and changing as art itself".

Karl Parboosingh, Spirit of Independence, c1962, Private Collection Barrington Watson, Out of Many, One People, 1962, Location unknown; Eugene Hyde – Colonization II, 1960, Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica.


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