The theme for Kingston Creative’s Artwalk for the month of February was music. Kingston Creative conducts monthly themed activities, where art including live mural painting and several discussions involving the arts community are held in different sections surrounding Water Lane and the restaurant F&B Downtown on Harbour Street. This month, they organized a mural tour by bus, taking patrons to visit the thirty (30) murals done by artists under the initiative of Kingston Creative. As a Love Not Likes member, I was asked to cover the Artwalk for the month of February.
The Mural Bus Tour
I’ve been to an Artwalk, last year with Love Not Likes (read about it here) and several times on my own, however I have never done a mural bus tour. I love art and as a creative I was excited to jump on the bus to see the beautifully painted murals across Downtown Kingston. At 9am sharp, I joined the group that was briefed by Art District Lead of Kingston Creative, Ms. Doris Gross, as we boarded the buses provided and started the journey to the corner of Rosemary Lane and Harbour Street. Everyone, with camera in hand was eager in anticipation as we all wanted to capture the murals on the streets of downtown Kingston. Throughout the tour, Ms. Gross, delivered relevant information about each of the murals.
The First Stop
The first mural we went to was located on the side of the tTech Building. A team of six artists collaborated to depict the typical activities in a community. As with all of murals featured on this tour, the overarching theme was of positive community collaboration and integration, highlighting special features of each community and empowering messages to all who visited the location.
The Second Stop: Rae Town
We then headed on to Rae Town to visit a double-sided mural done by Ms. Deon Simone. On one side it depicted ladies dancing and enjoying the music being played and on the other, had portraits of fishermen of Rae Town is known as a fishing village and the fishermen usually get their catch from the Kingston Waterfront.
The Third Stop: Barry Street
Our tour then headed to Barry Street, starting at the corner of Lower South Camp Road, where a mural illustrating the themes of the GOJ’s Vision for 2030; justice, education, collaboration, family and religion. Further along Barry Street, murals painted with positive messages and music icons lined the street. It was great to see all the visitors snapping pictures and selfies.
The Fourth Stop: Fleet Street
A left turn took us to the famous Fleet Street and Life Yard, where the more popular murals were located. 41 Fleet Street is a dilapidated open-to-sky warehouse storage space that has been transformed into an iconic landmark having been featured in photoshoots, music videos and Jamaican advertisements broadcasted across the world. It was originally an initiative done by Paint Jamaica and adopted under the Kingston Creative movement to make Downtown Kingston the Art District of Jamaica.
The Fifth Stop: East Street
From Fleet Street, we pulled up to The Jamaica Gleaner headquarters on East Street. The Gleaner joined the Kingston Creative initiative as one of the “First 50 Sponsors” last year. The mural on the corner of the building at East and North Street, is the second augmented reality mural to be created. This mural, also a collaboration between artists and program designers, on first seeing it depicts several integral aspects of The Gleaner. The top section is a saleswoman, then representing sports is star athlete Usain Bolt, then deejay playing music representing entertainment, their national pride represented by Jamaica’s National bird, a hummingbird otherwise known as The Doctor Bird. Representing our rich heritage, is represented by Miss Louise Bennet-Coverly and finally a fistbump between the newspaper and the people of Jamaica. These were all incorporated to commemorate The Gleaner’s 185th anniversary. What makes this really cool, is because it’s augmented reality, when you download the Artvive app and scan the mural, the images come alive with animation and music!
The Last Stop: Beat Street
On our final stop, was Beat Street, an event running concurrently, paid homage to reggae icons that brought reggae music to the world. The music filled the street as sound systems, Soultone and Shanghai, played music of the three producers, Clement “Coxson” Dodd, Cecil “Prince Buster” Campbell, and Lee “Scratch” Perry and that of Dennis Brown, who lived at “Big Yard” located at 135 Orange Street. The murals featured musicians who helped to shape Jamaica’s musical heritage such as Big Youth, Yami Bolo and even Grammy award winning artist Sean Paul .
These festivities unfolded along Orange Street affectionately known as “Beat Street ” with tour patrons being able to witness a mural in progress on the intersection of Orange and Charles Street by two artists, one of which is @danthoart.
With the mural tour coming to a close, we headed back to F&B’s DownTown where it all started. Outside of F&B’s parking lot is Water Lane with murals by Charl B. known as @charlbart on IG, Javier, his handle on IG is @theartistjavier, the staple figure at Life Yard known as @thewritinggod on IG, Alphonso Blake and many others. The newest mural on Temple Street is by international muralist Irving Cano and a local group called East Evolution under the commission of the Mexican embassy.
We made it back in time to catch reggae artist Papa Michigan known for his hits like Rub a Dub style. He was already serenading the crowd that had gathered, singing and dancing as they grooved along with him.
While entertainment continued with a mento band and the other scheduled acts, market goers milled about taking pics of and with the many murals, artisans and vendors that were on location. Jewelry wares, books, accessories, plants, clothing were many of the different items up for sale on February’s staging of Artwalk and Market Street.
Scents of pan chicken and other foods present permeated the air beckoning hungry patrons to purchase and fill up! Pudding served from dutch pots, natural juices being offered up, blended smoothies and shakes, and vegan and vegetarian dishes were all on display. In addition to all that variety, F&B’s Downtown provides a fine dining menu with air conditioning!
After indulging in a favourite, pan chicken with ketchup and lots of red pepper sauce and a token slice of hard dough bread, I joined the audience on the inside of F&B’s who were being entertained by the live music of Ziah and the Pushers.
Reasons to Visit
The atmosphere of Artwalk and Market Street has always been relaxed and welcoming, fostering conversations between friends and strangers alike. This allows the building and strengthening of community bonds between old and new friends. This initiative continues to grow within the art district and the wider community of Jamaica, with loads of promise and potential, bringing together art, music, dance, literature, design, theatre, film and culinary arts.
Definitely looking forward to the next staging. Will you be there?
About Kingston Creative
This post is in partnership with Love Not Likes Blogger Network and Kingston Creative. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.
Founded in February 2017, Kingston Creative is a registered non-profit company that is working to promote culture and the regeneration of Downtown. We believe that Kingston is the creative capital of the Caribbean and that culture is a catalyst that creates much needed social and economic transformation in Downtown Kingston. Over the next five to ten years, we aim to develop an Art District and Creative Hub for entrepreneurs. Learn more about Kingston Creative by visiting www.kingstoncreative.org