Art
JM | Jul 13, 2022

Craig Phang Sang envisions new mecca for Jamaican art

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

author
The artist’s Gallery inside Di Lot.

Up-and-coming entertainment venue Di Lot, located at 33 Constant Spring Road in St Andrew, is aiming to birth a modern “cultural mecca” in Jamaica’s capital.

Set to open its doors later this month, the artist’s Gallery, one of the spots inside Di Lot, according to local operator Craig Phang Sang, will be a space where creatives of all types can come to showcase their work.

“There’s something special that captures people’s eyes and emotions when they see art hung en masse,” Phang Sang said.

A local artist, photographer and media entrepreneur, Phang Sang shared with Our Today his inspiration and vision for the gallery to be a hub for the public to experience the artistic side of the island, noting that too much attention is placed on foreign media.

“I believe that Jamaica has a lot of things we take for granted, that a lot of young people might not even know exists. We’re paying too much attention to foreign media and forgetting about all the beautiful things we have right here. I want people surrounded with arts, starting from some being visible from the main road to murals and showpieces on the walls inside,” Phang Sang explained.

Craig Phang Sang

According to Phang Sang, the country’s creative industry is currently ripe with potential, and rather than collect commissions from artists, the local operator explained plans to make their contact information readily available so they are able “to earn from their work”.

“I have a slight problem with current art markets that gather people together, 20 or 40 artists at a time, like sheep. I think it cheapens the arts and [is] somewhat demeaning to artists. I would like to change that.”

Phang Sang went on to identify issues with today’s art market, noting that promotion for the gallery, which will host primarily black-and-white images symbolic of the beauty that exists throughout Jamaican history, will stray away from using the usual methods available.

“I have a slight problem with current art markets that gather people together, 20 or 40 artists at a time, like sheep. I think it cheapens the arts and [is] somewhat demeaning to artists. I would like to change that,” he said.

With hopes to attract non-art fans as well, the operator added that visitors can expect drinks, food, music, and space to move around, with Di Lot being home to three restaurants, a bar, and, according to Phang Sang, spacious enough to hold up to 1,000 people.

“The goal is anywhere between 200 to 1,000 people passing through daily, and we have everything that crowds like, drinks, food and space,” he said.

(Photo: Craig Phang Sang)

Empathetic to struggling artists, having endured his own struggle in the past, Phang Sang appears to want to assist them however he can.

“I know how difficult the journey as an artist is and I’ve had a lot of experiences that stick with me. Traditionally, art is sold to uptown markets, but, due to the housing boom in Jamaica, there’s a whole new generation of young professionals seeking artwork for their homes or spaces.

Young artists can capitalise on that. In order to do that, some of them need advice – the types of formats and sizes they use, ensuring they are consistent enough for a showcase, producing work in museum quality and so on.

Though some might believe the world of art is a non-viable field, Michael Holgate, head of the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, when contacted by Our Today, suggested otherwise.

THUMBS UP FROM KINGSTON CREATIVE

“The culture and creative industry is often believed to be a non-viable career [in] Jamaica, but it is big business all around the world, many cities thrive on it. In the Caribbean, our culture is strong and attractive to the entire world, we know that there is money in music; there is also money in dance and arts as well,” Holgate said.

Kathrine Johnson, arts lead at Kingston Creative, shared with Our Today, that Phang Sang is an extremely talented artist who her non-profit arts organisation has worked with before.

She said Kingston Creative, which has done significant work on bringing art to the streets of Kingston and the minds of the capital city’s people, remains supportive of developing the culture and creative industry and is happy to hear about the artist’s Gallery at Di Lot.

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