Art Fair 2018

It was bigger and bolder this year and after 3 consecutive editions I am still a BIG fan of the Aruba Art Fair, which just whooshed by in San Nicolas October 5 – 7, 2018.

In a previous column, I already told you about the spectacular opening fashion show, Art Fashion, on Theaterstraat, last Thursday. The show received a monumental background, a 30m x 6m mural executed in honor of #ArubaArtFair2018, by a Dutch multidisciplinary street artist, Eelco van den Bergh. #IamEElco @IamElco.

San Nicolas now flaunts over 30 murals and it has become a tourist destination by virtue of it being the Caribbean’s largest outdoor art museum, say Alice van Romondt who through her ties with Dutch cultural foundations, manages to drum up some funding each year, for a relatively modest organization, big on talent and volunteerism.

When we arrived Saturday evening at main street SN, it was busy, with hundreds of people of all ages, admiring the art displays, murals and exhibitions, artisans’ work, and musical performances.

Alas, at about 9:30pm it started raining and it did not give up.

What I managed to see in the short time was very impressive. Youth art, a photography contest, and about 5 pop up galleries, many street vending artisans, as well as a rich display of local arts and crafts at Cosecha.

Organizer Tito Bolivar did not know exactly how many artists participated but 150 seemed a reasonable number, and Diana Croes was especially proud of youth artwork displayed in the street giving budding artists, between the ages of 8 to 17, an opportunity to shine, as they come together with a mature generation of creative talents.

Those walking around could enjoy the culinary offerings of the expanded O’Neil’s Caribbean Kitchen, a popup Nikkei Sushi Bar and a lovely pop up operation by Divi Resorts, recreating their Fusion Bar & Restaurant in an abandoned main street structure, dramatically lit, with an inviting set up. We stopped for a beet at Mundi Health Café.

The main stage offered a complete program, three nights in a row, we could hear a poetry reading going on but were distracted by our intense socializing.

Atelier 89, presented a great collection of its resident artists: The exceptional photography of Anuar Habibe, the crude empathy of Velvet Ramos protesting the scarcity of food, the whimsical soft creatures by Luna & the Wolf, the striking, linear black & white murals of Irvin Aguilar, the personal quest of Lupita Bernabela, the delicate collages of Samuel Sarmiento and the intricate work of Romelinda ‘Kala’ Maldonado.

Two sculptures, one life-like by Hendrik Schoten, and another by Giovanni and Angelica Abath, on the outside wall of one of the pop-up galleries, titled Let It Grow, will hopefully remain on permanent display.

Funding? I did not ask. No answers were offered, except Bolivar did say it was easier this year, albeit political. Since he did not explain exactly what he meant, I am not going to go there.

Our art fair is organized by a foundation, a private-sector nonprofit, and as such will always need to fundraise aggressively to sustain itself.

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October 09, 2018
Rona Coster