CARICS International Fine Arts Festival makes its debut in Montego Bay, Jamaica

by Howard Campbell

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – With its all-inclusive hotels, quaint restaurants and reggae festivals, Montego Bay is known internationally as Jamaica’s tourist mecca.  Oniel Cunningham, promoter of CARICS International Fine Arts Festival, is determined to diversify the city’s product.

The inaugural event took place on March 9 at Old Hospital Park in Montego Bay, Cunningham’s hometown. Cunningham organized it to help expose the talents of homegrown artists and artisans.

“CARICS’ vision is to develop a local arts event that rivals the scope and reach of the popular music festivals for which Montego Bay and Jamaica has been known. Ours is a rich and diverse culture and we want the world to know that Montego Bay, Jamaica offers much more that reggae, sun sea and sand; we have fine art and exquisite craft,” he explained.

The show attracted an eclectic roster. They included Jamaican painters Jessica Campbell and Scion Derby; Elizabeth Toby, a painter of Jamaican/Trinidadian heritage; Antiguan D’Kaboo Brann; Britain’s Francilla Seaton, Ghana’s Kumi Samuels, and Australian Orly Faya.

Paintings by Jamaican/Trinidadian Elizabeth Toby, shown at the March 9 CARICS International Fine Arts Festival in Montego Bay.

Paintings by Jamaican/Trinidadian Elizabeth Toby, shown at the March 9 CARICS International Fine Arts Festival in Montego Bay.

Paintings by Jamaican/Trinidadian Elizabeth Toby, shown at the March 9 CARICS International Fine Arts Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica

According to Cunningham, CARICS proved that Jamaica’s west coast produces more than just reggae and dancehall performers.

“Jamaica’s western region holds a great pool of talented, established and emerging artists and artisans, many of whom have etched names for themselves locally and internationally. Additionally, CARICS not only showcases talents from the west but from the length and breadth of Jamaica.”

works exhibited by Australian body-paint artist Orly Faya, at the March 9 CARICS International Fine Arts Festival in Montego Bay.

One of the works exhibited by Australian body-paint artist Orly Faya, at the March 9 CARICS International Fine Arts Festival in Montego Bay.

Cunningham, who is in his early 40s, is an arts buff who has longed to stage a fine arts festival in Montego Bay. With assistance from the Jamaican government’s Tourism Enhancement Fund and local businesses, he finally made his dream reality and hopes to make his festival annual.

Montego Bay has a massive reggae/dancehall scene. It hosted the first Reggae Sunsplash in 1978, and is home to the week-long Reggae Sumfest which takes place every summer.

 

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