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|The Bahamas Honours Most Famous Artist Son (Amos Ferguson)|
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|Posted by:||Feb 5th 2005, 02:46:15 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||Greetings from the Princess Street Gallery, which has just acquired new paintings by legendary Bahamian artist Mr. Amos Ferguson ... we thought you might like to have a look.
To preview the paintings, please visit http://www.harbourislandgallery.com/artists/ferguson.htm. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger, more detailed image of the work.
To reserve paintings, kindly contact a sales representative of the gallery.
|Posted by:||Feb 4th 2005, 01:02:36 pm|
|Kimberly||The Bahamas News Bureau just sent this in:
A Showcase Of The Celebrated Works Of Bahamian Artists:
Jason Bennett Lillian Blades Wellington Bridgewater John Cox
Jessica Colebrooke Roshanne Eyma Toby Lunn Ritchie Eyma Amos Ferguson
Tyrone Ferguson Kendall Hanna Antonius Roberts Max Taylor Italia Williams
The 9th Annual National Black Fine Art Show
Thursday, February 3 - Sunday, February 6, 2005
Charity Preview - Wednesday, February 2, 2005
The Puck Building
295 Lafayette at Houston Street
SoHo District, New York
General Admission: $15.00;
Students with ID $10.00
3 Day pass: $35.00
Hours: Thursday - Friday, Noon - 8:30pm
Saturday, 11:00am - 8:30am
Sunday, 11:00am - 6:00pm
For additional information go to: http://www.nationalblackfineartshow.com
|Posted by:||Feb 3rd 2005, 06:32:58 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||The Nassau Tribune
Wednesday January 19, 2005
By Erica Wells
At last, the Bahamas honours its most famous artist son
Amos Ferguson, the Bahamas’ best known intuitive artist, has changed his address. The modest home of the world-renowned painter was on Exuma Street for years, that was until last week, when the name of the roadway located in the heart of The Grove was changed in his honour, to Amos Ferguson Street.
The diminutive Ferguson was larger than life at Wednesday’s naming ceremony, as he sat front and centre, humbly drinking in the praise and accolades from proud family members, well wishers and government officials.
But it was during the musical selections that he seemed at his happiest, perhaps because the spiritual hymns say a lot about this deeply religious man and his work.
Ferguson’s favourite hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, a song about celebration and praise – performed at the ceremony held right outside the small gate to his home – gives and insight into his bold and bright paintings that celebrate his faith and homeland.
There is certainly and element of sophistication in his simple and direct paintings on cardboard using house paint – joyful, gentle creations of full bright skies, birds, flowers and marching bands, often with religious themes and images. Ferguson says that he “paints by faith, not by sight. Faith gives you sight”, often turning to the Bible for inspiration.
“…To paint, the Lord gives a vision, a sight that you goes by. But you have to see and check that Bible and don’t forget God. And the more you keeps up with your Bible, and get the understanding, the better you paint”, explains Ferguson in an early interview.
In fact, he would probably tell you that his faith is what has brought his career as an artist to where it is today.
Ferguson’s art can be considered very personal, leaving the viewer as a by-stander – a reflection of the nature in how he identifies God in his work. Ferguson says that he paints from his heart, and that the Lord guides his hands. His paintings are exactly what they claim to be – and nothing more.
His story is a seductive one – especially to tourists who often have a romanticized view of Caribbean art and artists. And for many, Ferguson’s story is just as fascinating as his work. The curiosity of the man and his work is definitely an attraction.
Born in 1920 on the island of Exuma, Ferguson attended school until the age of 14 and worked with his father, a preacher, farmer and carpenter, until he left for Nassau.
He does not remember exactly when he started to paint, but says he liked to draw as a boy and has been painting all his life.
Ferguson worked as a house painter for a living, but it was not until his nephew came to him one day with a message “from the Lord” that he decided to take his interest in painting more seriously.
“I was painting for a rich man, E. P. Taylor of Lyford Cay, when my nephew came to me and said, ‘Uncle Amos, I dreamed that the Lord came out of the sea with a painting in His hands and He say He give you a talent but you don’t use it’. And I said, ‘OK, George, that must be the Lord.’”
Ferguson would continue to use house paint throughout his career, preferring its shiny, hard finish on board to the more traditional oil or acrylic on canvas.
At first, he did not sell his paintings – they were created to honour God. To hear some tell it, Ferguson, realizing there was a market for his work among tourists, eventually worked with straw vendors to sell his paintings. Others say that his wife, Bea, a straw vendor, took his paintings to her stall at the straw market, and they began to sell themselves. He also painted faces on the dolls that Bea made, and in those days, his paintings depicting a warm, vibrant and beautiful Bahamas, could also be found hanging by clothesline under the Paradise Island bridge among the fruit and conch stalls.
Ferguson’s first solo exhibition was held at Toogood’s Studio in 1972, and in 1977 and 1978 he held one-man shows at the Lyford Cay Gallery and Brent Malone’s Matinee Gallery, respectively.
His work, although highly regarded by his fellow artists, was largely ignored at home.
But by the early 1980’s, Ferguson’s work would go far beyond these shores and the response would be more than he could imagine.
It all started in the late 1970s when New Yorker, Dr. Sukie Miller purchased an Amos Ferguson painting from a Nassau art gallery. Desperate to find out more about the man who signed his work “paint by Mr. Amos Ferguson”, Dr. Miller’s five-year search for Ferguson began.
In August of 1983, convinced that Mr. Ferguson must have died because no one in Nassau seemed to know anything about him, Dr. Miller hired a cab for a cemetery hunt for the artist’s tombstone.
Driving her was Dutch Dean who promptly took Dr. Miller to Ferguson’s house on Exuma Street and said, “This is where Amos Ferguson lives. I’m his best friend.”
Dr. Miller met Ferguson and bought a few more of his paintings, flew back to New York and invited a Haitian art connoisseur Ute Stebich, to examine her purchases.
Mrs. Stebich was stunned.
The two women then flew back to Nassau, slide photographs were taken of Ferguson’s work and sent to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum to be considered for its African Diaspora collection.
And the rest is truly history.
Curators at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Harford, Connecticut – the oldest museum in the United States – were impressed by Ferguson’s style. They were thrilled with the apparent simplicity of his work, and amazed that an artist of that quality had been working in obscurity for so long.
This remarkable, almost unbelievable chain of events led to the 1985 Wadsworth exhibition: “Paint by Mr. Amos Ferguson,” a show of 50 of Mr. Ferguson’s paintings that traveled the world for two years. And propelled him onto the international art scene.
By the mid-1980s his work began to attract serious attention and he rapidly became famous among galleries and collectors of folk art. Critics refer to him as “an outstanding colorist – and genius at taking complex shapes and simplifying them”.
On the heels of the Wadsworth exhibition, the Studio Museum of Harlem reserved a showing date; the famous auction house Sotheby’s auctioned two of his paintings. And back home a large group of American curators, critics, connoisseurs and journalists attended a one-man show by Ferguson at the posh Ocean Club on Paradise Island.
His paintings have also been used to illustrate a children’s book “Under the Sunday Tree” – a collection of poems by Eloise Greenfield.
Last week’s recognition was the result of a recommendation made by the Cultural Commission, and was seen as an important step for the arts in a country that seldom honours its heroes.
The ceremony featured speakers like Cultural Commission chairman Winston Saunders, the Deputy Prime Minister, Cynthia Pratt and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Neville Wisdom, who all had a lot to say about Ferguson and his contribution to the development of Bahamian art. But the speaker most noticeably absent from the podium was Ferguson himself, who instead insisted that the hymn “Praise” serve as his response to the recognition.
For an artist who was first recognized abroad before he was valued at home, Ferguson is adept at dodging the spotlight. His art has been featured in galleries all over the world, but today he rarely gives interviews and remains very private.
Ferguson admits that he doesn’t like change. Perhaps that is why he has stuck with his medium of house paint on board and for many years worked at a dimly lit kitchen table in a tiny house Over-the-Hill.
Today Ferguson no longer paints and his eyesight is failing, but his paintings with their signature bright, flat images and quirky subject matter are still sought by collectors of primitive art – here and abroad – and are sold for thousands of dollars, depending on the piece.
Next month, Ferguson’s work will be part of the National Black Fine Arts Show in Soho, New York. He is one of 14 Bahamian artists whose work is being represented at the well-respected exhibition.
Ferguson told a local journalist in the early 1990s, “So close and yet so far. That’s how I am to my own people.”
Well last week was a definite sign that the distance between the artist and the people is getting smaller.
“It took a long time to penetrate the psyche of his countrymen,” said Cultural Commission chairman Winston Saunders. “Today he has.”
[Briland.com: To see more samples of Amos Ferguson's exceptional work, please view http://harbourislandgallery.com/artists/ferguson.htm]
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