Caribbean Art Comes To Life At The First Annual International Caribbean Art Fair (ICAFair) in New York

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street
New York, New York 10012

Preview Night Benefit and Collectors' Reception:

Thursday, November 1, 7 - 10 p.m.

Show Hours:

Friday, November 2, 10am - 8pm
Saturday, November 3, 10am - 8pm
Sunday, November 4, 11pm - 6pm

August 13, 2008. For Marcel Wah, Jr., art is definitely a family affair. Marcel is a painter like his father, three uncles, brother, and nephew. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he comes from a proud national tradition where art is respected and artists acknowledged.

"For 12 years I tried to promote Haitian art and it has been challenging," he said. "Haitian art and its art world are impacted when the political situation is not stable, and Haiti has been through some very rough times."

Wah said he realized that Caribbean art suffers from little exposure and is not seen as a viable market. "There is an amazing and limitless amount of talent from the region and the artists are eager for outlets."

His conclusion was that there were not enough galleries to represent the art coming out of the region, and he started to think about how he could help both his country and the region as a whole. Two years ago, he started to plan an international art fair focusing on the Caribbean.

In the meantime, to be closer to the New York art scene, he and his family moved to Maryland from San Francisco where he bought a house with a cathedral ceiling which doubles as a home gallery. He holds art shows quarterly with lively weekend receptions, all in preparation for the next step.

From November 1-4, his plans will be realized with the International Caribbean Art Fair, ICAFair, at The Puck Building, 295 Lafayette Street, New York in the SoHo area. Thirty-two galleries from many cities in the U.S. and from Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St. Croix, Haiti and France will show works by artists from 15 of the Caribbean islands.

A wide range of work will be on exhibit: Naif, unschooled, and sophisticated paintings; abstraction, modernism, realism and surrealism; art influenced by expressionism and impressionism, along with mixed media and sculptures. Wah explained, "You'll see everything except minimalism because for the Caribbean artists, their works are marked by color and light, with the art usually reflecting their culture and identity, including influences of Africa, Europe and Asia."

Wah notes a trend in sculpture coming out of Haiti, "Artists in Haiti are experimenting more than ever before, and maybe because of the economic situation and lack of access to materials, they're creating artworks with found objects like tires and bicycle parts. It's not new to the modern world but for Haiti it is, and interesting sculptures are the result."

Wah sees this as more than just an art fair where people come to view and buy art, "This fair, bringing art from the whole region, will help people identify and be proud of their heritage," he said.

Paul Maurer of Cubarte New York, who will be showing Cuban art along with artist Jose Acosta looks at this exhibition in a different light: "What Jose and I are doing is something that politicians on both sides of the Florida straits have rarely been able to do in 50 years: get together for a project with mutual respect, for fun and profit. So, perhaps art transcends; art knows no bounds and no boundaries."

As the show draws near, Wah is getting feedback, "People are really excited, the exhibitors and the public, both the Caribbean community and the general public. They are getting something fresh, works they would not normally see. They will see a sampling of the gamut of works from the Caribbean in a show lasting four days."

The purpose of the show is to grow and expand the market, while educating the public about Caribbean art. A lecture and workshop series scheduled on Friday and Saturday during the Fair will include an overview of Caribbean art, how to appraise the art, and a discussion with gallery owners and artists.

Wah believes that art can stimulate growth and development in the region in many ways, "This fair also helps drive tourism in the Caribbean. Exposing people to the region's art can motivate them to visit. It happened in the '40s when Haitian Art hit the International community, and it will happen again throughout the Caribbean." Wah is counting on a multiplier effect. "Once the art gets to the outer world, in addition to added income for the artist, the supporting industries in each island-galleries, museums, shipping companies, art supplies - will also grow."

The opening night preview on November 1, from 7-10pm, will benefit El Museo del Barrio. To see some of the works that will be exhibited, a slideshow can be viewed on the fair's Web site at: Show hours are Friday and Saturday, November 2 and 3, 10am-8pm; Sunday, November 4, 11am-6pm. For more information, call 310-637-4934.

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