Art is Everywhere

Report by Therese Hadchity from Barbados after her first visit at the Ateliers ’89

An introduction, first: Visiting a museum, and/or buying a piece of art, is always on my mind when visiting destinations around the globe.

On a recent trip to Bordeaux we went to view Dali, The endless Enigma, in the Bassins des Lumieres, where the work of the genius artist was brought to life projected on the walls of an old submarine base turned digital art center, it was an astonishing production of sound and light. Dali at Bassins des Lumieres

I spend a full day and a half at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, which was on my bucket list for many years, marveling at its collection and the stunned by the building itself, a world architectural wonder.

On a recent visit in Hawaii, we went to the Honolulu Museum of art for an immersive experience in an art installation of flowers titled Awakening, which was beyond spectacular, and thought-provoking. It was a double treat because we also got to see a movie about Vermeer, produced by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, in honor of the  Vermeer in the Netherlands.

And I am not the only one who is interested in art.

How do I know that for sure?

Because the Amsterdam’s Vermeer exhibit was sold out in day two. After months of buildup, the Rijksmuseum had sold over 200.000 tickets before Vermeer even opened its doors to the public. By February 11 – or day two of the four-month-long exhibition – all 450.000 tickets had been sold.


It is a fact that all visitors to Paris, make a pilgrimage to the Louvre. All visitors to St Petersburg head to the Hermitage, the Prado in Madrid, the Uffizi in Florence. Not to forget the Anne Frank museum and the Tate, London, the Met, the MOMA, NYC, the Botero in Medellin, the Gold Museum in Bogota, these place move millions around the globe, make them buy airline tickets, book hotels, pay for meals, only to end up thrilled and amazed standing in front of Van Gogh’s sunflowers or the mummy of King Tut.

Museums are on the must see lists everywhere except in Aruba, where the Aloe Museum does a good job, as a standout, an exception.


Therese Hadchity, gave a number of lectures here, met our artists Danilo Geerman, Fernando Vermeer, Samuel Sarmiento, Velvet Zoe Ramos, Romelinda Maldonado, Artuno Desimone (and others more informally), was invited to the studios, she enjoyed her internship at Athelier 89.

The following are her impressions: I appreciated visits with local artists very much and found the work, irrespective of its level of accomplishment, to be sincere and at times highly original and innovative. It was therefore distressing to learn that several of these artists have had very limited opportunities (or indeed future prospects) for exhibiting their work locally and abroad. In general, I found it curious that Aruba which, relative to its size, probably boasts more murals and public sculpture than any other nation in the Caribbean, has no national collection of art that is available to local citizens or visitors (I was lucky to be invited to view a large private collection, but clearly this opportunity is not afforded any other tourist). Given Aruba’s general living standards and thriving tourism industry, it surprised me a great deal that previous efforts to tap into the ‘orange economy’ so widely predicted to be a major driver of future tourism do not appear to be followed through with a more long-term commitment to the creative community.

The lesson learnt from destinations like Cuba, Jamaica and Martinique is that a local art museum, national gallery, or well-funded foundation (however modest in scale), where art is put on display without a directly commercial intent can transforms a destination into a cultural hub with a trickle-down effect for the entire cultural economy and the branding of the destination more generally: artists who enjoy institutional endorsement and exposure enjoy greater demand, higher prices and are in a better position to find international exhibition opportunities, all of which ultimately contribute substantially to the exposure and interest in a given destination – not to speak of the educational and cultural value for the entire Aruban nation. On a similar note, I was a little dismayed to observe that there were no coordinated efforts on the part of tour-organizers to visit art spaces – from the Ateliers ’89 to Cas Cultura, individual studios, and the murals in San Nicolas. On the whole, there seems to be so much untapped potential in the arts for tourism development in Aruba. The visual arts community presently benefits from the vision and tremendous efforts of a handful of individuals, but more permanent solutions must be found if the momentum is not to be lost.

My two-week visit to Aruba gave me much to think about, and I am profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to interact with the artistic community in and around Ateliers ‘89.
I wish everyone I met there all the success and support they so richly deserve.


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July 27, 2023
Rona Coster