Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 3rd 2013 Contents B30
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 3, 2013
Art dealer Mark Pereira described
the condition the society and its
property had descended into by the
early 2000s: "The Art Society build-
ing was in grave disrepair," he said.
"It was kind of falling down, there
was a lot of water damage, and there
was a homeless person living in it.
It was used maybe twice, three times
The lack of activity kept people
"I didn t even want to join," said
Clayton De Freitas, now the society s
assistant secretary. "This thing---the
Art Society---never meant anything
bitions and the building was locked
up, so I said, Well why go? "
Pereira rehabilitated the building
into what artist/curator Nikolai Noel
now calls a "fantastic space."
In exchange, Pereira was allowed
to use it rent-free for three months
of the year over five years and there-
after, whenever he wanted to, at a
reasonable rate. Activity at and inter-
est in the society grew.
"Now the Art Society is used non-
stop," said Pereira, whose 101 Art
Gallery is now based at Boscie Hiold-
er s old studio in Newtown. "It is
permanently in demand for exhibi-
tions, lectures and functions."
The membership expanded, bring-
ing on invaluable board members
like De Freitas, a landscape artist
who runs an art programme for
prison inmates, and Alexander, a
painter and art teacher.
Alexander joined at first to help
her out of the difficulty in finding
a gallery to rent.
"Most galleries are selective on
who they exhibit and they are very
booked up because we don t have
that many art galleries," she said.
Members of the society, who now
number around 400, can rent its
space at a discounted price.
"That was why I joined," said
Alexander. "And once I joined I
realised I could try to be part of the
solution, try to make it more acces-
sible to everybody."
The current executive headed by
Guy---who s coming to the end of a
three-year term---is continuing the
job of reinvigorating the society.
Besides regular exhibitions, this year
the board introduced a well-received
series of four panel discussions called
Conversations with Elders. LeRoy
Clarke, Peter Minshall and Che
Lovelace were among the panellists
who led often spirited discussions
about the past, present and future
of art in T&T. Sheppard runs a well-
attended monthly live-model draw-
ing session. An art market is coming
up just before Christmas.
On a recent Saturday afternoon,
the society held its first social in
decades, organised by a newly
formed PR committee led by De Fre-
itas, whose goals are to boost mem-
bership and fellowship among mem-
Around 30 people partook of the
potluck collection of drinks and
snacks laid out on folding tables at
the back of the gallery, the projected
images of arts journal Caribbean
Intransit s Commonplace Kingdom
exhibition---representing the society s
foray into contemporary art---flick-
ered in one corner. The attendance
was diverse, from white-haired Irish-
woman Mary Adam to 21-year-old
"The art society has so many ben-
efits for artists," Gonzales enthused,
his curly hair and round cheeks mak-
ing him look even younger than he
is. He held his first exhibition, which
he shared with two other young
artists, at the society earlier this year.
He s now a member of the PR com-
"I m hoping to help with pro-
grammes that will draw more people
to the society," he said.
The intention is to make such
There are other things the society
would like to do: woo President
Anthony Carmona into becoming
its patron; organise artist awards
named in honour of people who
made the greatest contributions to
the society, like Atteck and Chang;
and finally expand its headquarters
to include more gallery space, artist
studios, seminar rooms, a bookstore,
an art supply store and a cafeteria.
But it remains to be seen if the
society will overcome the current
crisis as it has others in the past.
More info: artsocietytt.org
Art Society faces another crisis
Commissioner: 'We are not evicting'
The State has no plans to evict the Art Society from its current home
in Federation Park---at least for now, the Commissioner of State Lands
said last week.
Commissioner Kumar Koonoolal notified the Art Society by letter in
2012 that its lease would be increased from a "peppercorn" rate of $1 a
year to $245,000. The organisation faces eviction if they don't pay it.
"The figure we would have given to them is based on what is given to
us by the Commissioner of Valuations," Koonoolal said in an interview
on Thursday. "By law we are required to take the valuation figure from
the Commissioner of Valuations."
The society is challenging the figure as unfair and excessive for a
piece of land that was limited to charitable use by the terms of the
original 1965 agreement.
"You don't deal with a charity and use market rates," said Art Society
president Gail Guy.
"We have offered the lowest rate we could give," Koonoolal said, a
declaration Guy disagrees with.
Koonoolal also said his office was waiting on a response to its offer
from the society; Guy said the society has written the Commissioner
"three or four" times.
Koonoolal gave this assurance: "For now, we are not even thinking
From Page B3
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