When visiting San Nicholas, we always stop by Lolita, across from the bus stop, a piece of public art commission from ARTopia’s Gilbert Senchi.
Gilbert is reluctant to call himself an artist, according to him the term is misused, and overused. By definition, he says, he is a man who lives by his art, and makes a living creating art, which is the litmus test he believes, you gotta have a public, art is here to serve the society from which it springs.
He first created Lolita as a tribute to these hardworking female Caribbean merchants, descendants of slaves, who are free to navigate the world and support their families by selling boiled peanuts, candies and lottery tickets on street corners.
Gilbert’s Lolita is an old woman, with a proudly erect head and back, she wears two different color socks – who cares, she couldn’t find a matching pair that morning – her hands are oversized representing hard work, her sagging breasts and wrinkled face, suggest she didn’t have it easy in life.
San Nicholas had a real flesh-and-blood Lolita, and Gilbert sculpted her in bronze. The piece was cast in a Colombian foundry where he regularly works, then after a considerable delay, it was finally installed and graces a shaded square in the heart of the sleepy oil town.
These days Gilbert is marketing miniature Lolitas, they are already available at Papiamento restaurant, and will soon be stocked by souvenir stores at the hotels and the airport. The piece is nicely packaged in a cardboard box styled after the wooden clap-board homes in the Village neighborhood in San Nicholas.
There will be a chocolate Lolita, in honor of Chocolate City, he promises.
Some of his next project, Gilbert confirms, is a monumental shell, for an island hotel lobby, and another war related monumental piece for a Berlin residence. He was also entrusted with the creation of the AHATA award of excellence, for the second year in a row. He is busy.
And on his journey, he discovered the key to happiness. He calls it acceptance. Apparently, he totally abandoned the my-way-or-the-highway attitude he had, and now goes with the flow, open and accepting, and much happier as a result.
According to him, we are here to be happy, no more, nor less, happiness is his goal in life from now on, and all that ego-macho theatrics, behind him.
I love my small-scale Lolita, she is a liberated woman, no bra, mismatched clothing, working, independent, in need of no one, doing her thing, just my type of girl.
Gilbert works under a public art foundation by the name of ARTopia, with Mirla Passchier, Eduard Ellis, and Mich Biegstraaten, as the PR diva, chef/restaurateur and the businessman all appreciate the bohemian artist, working in Europe and South America on a variety of interesting art projects.