There is a growing initiative in Jamaica… and even more in Kingston. This initiative is to establish the Downtown district of Kingston to be the art district of Jamaica. Similar to Wynwood Art District in Miami-Florida in the United States, the interwoven streets of Downtown Kingston would be home to iconic murals and art shows showcasing the large variety of creative and artistic talent in Jamaica.
This initiative is being spearheaded by an organization called The Kingston Creatives ( https://www.instagram.com/kingstoncreativejm/ ) which is already comprised of some of Jamaica’s top artists and artisans. The Kingston Creatives have moved full force into the movement and created what is now widely known as ArtWalk. This event occurs on the last Sunday of every month and features a tour of several towns and communities downtown but begins with MeetUp on the Friday before. From yoga on the waterfront, an architectural tour led by renowned architects, the tour features the National Gallery’s exhibition that is free and open to the public on the last Sunday (correlating perfectly with ArtWalk). The day culminates at F&B Downtown ( https://www.instagram.com/fnb_downtown/ ), a local eatery on Harbour Street Downtown in the Swiss Stores building and a craft fair on Water Lane (behind the building) featuring local artists and their wares.
The F&B Restaurant is home to a small variety of wares including jewelry and shades but also to Craig PhangSang ( https://www.instagram.com/craigphangsang/ ) and his wide array of artworks. There are developments in place to also include an art incubator/coworking space available to artists who would use the space to develop their ideas and items.
The ArtWalk most often features a tour of Fleet Street, dubbed as such because that is the name of the street but also houses communities and home to LifeYard ( https://www.instagram.com/lifeyard360/ ), another initiative within the community committed to developing healthy and nurturing lifestyles for the youths within its streets. Some boast that unless you have taken a pic at one of the many iconic murals in and along Fleet Street, you are not cultured and steeped in Jamaican art circles.
Kingston Creative is trying to help breathe life back into the abandoned streets and buildings downtwon, starting with Harbour Street and Fleet Street and its immediate surroundings. They are aiming to get corporate Jamaica to adopt a space or even better, move back into downtown in an effort to revitalize the district. Companies like the Jamaica Observer and Grace Kennedy have already made major steps in promoting and bringing commerce back to downtown joining pioneers Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Jamaica and Digicel Jamaica, with its headquarters on Ocean Boulevard.
Love Not Likes ( https://www.instagram.com/lovenotlikesja/ ) joined the ArtWalk tour on June 30th 2019. This tour included a final year exhibition by final year student artists from The Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts, the Reggae Poster competition at the National Gallery, lunch at F&B Downtown and ending with a trip to LifeYard and Fleet Street.
Below I have attached some captures from the enthralling day and tour. Next end of month Sunday, make sure to check out ArtWalk by Kingston Creative.