“Masks, Music, & Costumes” Exhibit at Cane Roots Art Gallery Until Jan.12

Festival evokes the splendor of Crucian culture in many facets. Cane Roots Art Gallery shares “Masks, Music & Costumes” on Company Street in downtown Christiansted. The art-filled room  – seen from the outside –  draws the viewer in to experience the tasteful ambiance and deftly curated works offered by gallerist Sonia Deane. The show closes Jan. 12.

Deane comes from a background of gallery work in New York that shows up with each exhibit opening at Cane Roots. It can be seen in the high caliber of art, the lighting, the bright walls, the furniture, and in Deane’s welcoming of her patrons. Cane Roots is celebrating its growth from the “Women Alone” inaugural opening in December 2020 featuring artist Niarus Walker to the third anniversary in December 2023 festival group showing of “Masks, Music & Costumes.”

Artists Chalana Brown, Joyce Hickok, John Obafemi Brown, Sylvia Kahn, Victoria Rivera, Carolyn Robyler, and El’ Roy Simmonds have come together to share their talents in a strong demonstration of Crucian Festival culture.

Chalana Brown is a visual artist using the mediums of both photography and cinematography. Her work explores coloniality and identity in the Caribbean, especially in the Virgin Islands, where she was born and raised. As a documentarist, Brown has produced several broadcast programs, including Griot and Foodie Insider, which currently air on local networks. She is also the director of Sanctuary Festival Troupe, which bridges the gap between traditional festival tradition and modernized costuming, displaying the culture of the Virgin Islands.

Masquerader contributed by Chalana Brown (Source photo by Elisa McKay)
Head Dress contributed by Chalana Brown (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Joyce Hickok discovered her love of masks in the Gambia and collected the first of many there. Hickok has traveled to 60 countries so far and expresses her appreciation of cultures through her photographs. In her second two-year stint in the Peace Corps, she worked in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and discovered that the Caribbean, namely St. Croix, would be her beloved home of choice. A few years ago, Hickok realized her new creative medium is mask-making. “I feel like I’m creating a new personality that enters the world. I try to create a pleasing aesthetic and bring some joy or meaning into each personality.” Hickok exhibits regularly on St.Croix. Her “Parade Maskuerader” earned her St. Croix This Week Cover Artist in December. 

Play Mas by Joyce Hickok. Mixed media (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

John Obafemi Jones works from the historic culture of Afro-Atlantic peoples who have used music and dance to continually represent and reinvent their multiple bases of identity spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. “My style combines the mediums, technique, and discarded materials. I like the concept of merging painting with drawing.” 

Colorful squiggly lines and marks are key elements of Jones’ work, which provide pathways for expressionistic mixed media paintings. “From beginning to end, the process of bringing shapes, lines, and color together to the point where a work of art is born is quite challenging, yet magical and mysterious,” Jones said.

Ellaville by John Obafemi Jones. Mixed media, acrylic, oil sticks and collage (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Sylvia Kahn was born in Caracas, Venezuela, to talented parents who inspired her. She has attended schools in Caracas, Barbados, New York, Canada, and the ‘Hetzendorfer Modeschule’ in Vienna, Austria, where she graduated after five years in fashion design. Khan paints primarily with gouache, with pencil and pastel and uses spontaneous lines and brush strokes, and color and dynamic composition that reflect her vibrant personality. Her works on canvas using acrylic and gouache are a new experiment she calls Contemporary Abstract Designs. Khan has resided on St. Thomas for the past 40 years. She exhibits in group and solo shows and has won many awards. Her work is currently on display at the Camille Pissarro Gallery on St.Thomas and at Bajo el Sol Art Gallery on St.John.

Danzantes Duo
by Sylvia Khan. Pencil and gouache on paper (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Victoria Rivera is an emerging and self-taught artist. She retired from her New York medical practice in 2014 to pursue her first love, writing. In the process, she discovered a new passion for painting. Rivera began drawing and painting for the first time, primarily encompassing portraits and interpretive island scenes. She has been exhibiting her work on St. Croix since 2015. Rivera is a ‘Crucian by choice’ who actively participates in the local community, which offers her a visibility she had never before encountered when exploring her Puerto Rican, Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous American cultural heritage through her art. It is both safe and celebrated, Rivera said.

Moon Whisperer II by Victoria Rivera. Acrylic on wrapped canvas (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Carolyn Roblyer is a native of Ohio and has a degree in graphic communication. Her painting career started as a child with oils. She switched to watercolors when she moved to St. Croix in 1996. Roblyer was a member of the Palletteers, a group of artists who painted in plein aire. Her work has been shown in a number of local art shows. She discovered her love of murals and has been painting them extensively on St. Croix and throughout the United States. One of her favorite mural destinations is the Open Arms Home for Children in Komga, South Africa. Roblyer has returned there five times to beautify every building on the campus and she will be returning again in January 2024.

Enchanted Forest by Carolyn
Roblyer. Acrylic on canvas (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

El’ Roy Simmonds is an acclaimed visual artist and sculptor who was born and raised in Christiansted, St. Croix. Simmonds earned a bachelor of arts degree in education from the College of the Virgin Islands, now the University of the Virgin Islands. As an exchange student at the Kuntz Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark, he conducted research on the history of the relationship between Denmark and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is reflected in his work. Simmonds holds a Master’s degree in Fine Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He has been recognized internationally for his visionary contributions to the fine arts in the USVI, Denmark, New York, Haiti, and beyond. These recognitions range from exhibits in renowned group showings at the Empire Art Gallery in New York to honors by the Virgin Islands Black History Committee for outstanding and dedicated contributions to the field of the arts. He was commissioned by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs, Bureau of Libraries, Museums, and Archaeological Services, to illustrate the first government-endorsed V.I. History textbook, titled Clear de Road.

The Blue Man by El’Roy Simmonds (Source photo by Elisa McKay)

Visit Cane Roots Art Gallery Tuesdays through Fridays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. “Masks, Music & Costumes” Exhibit closes Friday, Jan.12.

For more information:
Gallery: 340-718-4929