Thursday, 26 January 2017

CULTURE VULTURE: Jamaica Biennial opens Feb. 24 + AFJ invites grant applications + Grounation 2017 salutes mento

SOUNDING GOOD: Last year, the life and work of legendary trombonist Don Drummond took centrestage, and this year that vintage slant continues. The 2017 Grounation series will observe the theme “Mento: Is Ow De Music Sweet So.” Put on by the Jamaica Music Museum (JMM) and hosted by the Institute of Jamaica, this year’s iteration of the annual series kicks off on February 5, with an accomplished roster of presenters and performers confirmed to participate. Heading the list are old-school melody-makers The Jolly Boys (above) and David Brown of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica. Also set to make appearances are scholars, thinkers and creative artists, including Dr. Daniel Neely, Dr. Matthew Smith, Roberto Moore, Roy Black and filmmaker Rick Elgood. For JMM head and chief organizer of the Grounation series, Herbie Miller, musical genres like mento deserve greater respect from the masses. “I think it is time we take a look at the original progenitor of popular Jamaican music that has not, as far as I know, been given much attention as it ought to have been,” Miller argues. “We talk about rocksteady, we talk about reggae, but mento gets passing mention, even in the books.”

VIEWING PLEASURE: Some 176 qualifying entries from nearly 100 fine artists have been submitted for the 2017 Jamaica Biennial exhibition, which opens to the public at the National Gallery on February 24. To help select the crème-de-la-crème for the blockbuster display, a four-member judging panel has been set up, comprised of two international judges (Amanda Coulson and Christopher Cozier) and two local judges (Suzanne Fredericks and Omari Ra). The artists whose works will be showcased will be notified in due course. Meanwhile, this year’s exhibition will pay tribute to two recently departed stalwarts of the local arts community: painter Alexander Cooper and photographer/multimedia artist Peter-Dean Rickards. As in 2015, the biennial’s bounty will be spread across three viewing spaces – the Downtown Kingston-based National Gallery, Hope Road’s Devon House and the National Gallery West in Montego Bay. There are now two major prizes up for grabs: the Aaron Matalon Award and the Dawn Scott Memorial Award.

GIVING WITH LOVE: Calling all Jamaican non-profits! The American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) is now accepting applications for grants from qualified not-for-profit organizations that provide charitable services in Jamaica, in the areas of education, health care and economic development. The grant applications should be applied to specific goals or projects in the given areas, while outlining clear and compelling objectives, sound financial capability and measurable targets for implementation. Applications should be submitted on or before February 6. For more information, including guidelines, email or log on to their website

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