Hampton Art Lovers Presents: “The Awakening: Drawings and Sculptures of Basil Watson”

MIAMI, Florida – Committed to celebrating and promoting diverse cultural roots through the arts and culture activities, and by promoting African American and Caribbean artistic talent, Hampton Art Lovers (HAL) opens another exhibition beginning on September 27 at the Historic Ward Rooming House (249 Northwest 9th Street Miami, FL, 33136), and running until November 16.

“Awakening” is the solo exhibition of works by Basil Barrington Watson featuring his sculptures and sketches, The Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment CRA(SEOPW) is the sponsor for the show. The gallery hours are daily from 1 pm-6 pm, Wednesday through Saturday. Private showings can be made by visiting //www.hamptonartlovers.com/events/basilwatson-awakening.

Jamaican born artist

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and the son of internationally renowned painter Barrington Watson and the first student of color to attend the Royal Academy in London, it was a natural progression for Watson to study at the Jamaica School of Art.

Upon graduation, he went on to establish a successful career as Jamaica’s leading sculptor. The Government of Jamaica awarded Basil the Order of Distinction (Commander) in recognition of his contributions in the field of art. The most notable of his achievements include having monumental works on three of Jamaica’s primary universities and signature works at the two of the Island’s major stadiums.

After emigrating to the United States in 2002, Watson established his home and studio in Lawrenceville, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta. Having continued the steep climb to international recognition, he has completed major works in China, Guatemala, and in various states within the United States. Additionally, over his 40-year career, Basil has completed several major commissions for multiple international governments and organizations.

Most recently Basil created monumental works for Jamaica,  honoring accomplished Jamaican athletes, like Olympic champions Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce along with others, and cultural icons like The Hon. Louise Bennett. Basil is currently working on a 12-foot sculpture of Dr. Martín Luther King Jr. commissioned by the City of Atlanta.

“To have been selected to sculpt the statute for Martin Luther King is indeed an honor. We celebrate with Basil Watson and encourage all persons to come out and experience this exhibition with Hampton Art Lovers at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Overtown”, said Jamaica’s Consul General to the Southern USA, Oliver Mair.

“Historically referred to as “Harlem of the South”,  Overtown was once renowned as the center of Black culture and entertainment for the South, reflecting the energy of the community that found expression in the many cultural forms that existed there such as theatre, music, art, and food,” says Neil Shriver, Executive Director for the SEOPW CRA. “In furtherance of the implementation of the Historic Overtown Culture and Entertainment Master Plan, this exhibit is a preview of Overtown once again becoming a global destination of unique culture, history, and entertainment.”

“The human form is often forgotten as a true artistic subject without the vanity that so often it has become in the 21st century. Basil Watson reminds us all through his amazing ability to capture the human form that it’s the spirit that lifts the form to life. That is the “Awakening” he illustrates and thus the title of our exhibition.” states Christopher Norwood, co-founder of Hampton Arts Lovers.

Hampton Arts Lovers

HAL inspires the appreciation of African-American Fine Art. It honors the heart and soul of Fine Artists and make their work discoverable by anyone who loves art. Hampton Art Lovers believes that understanding culture, whether our own or others’ is becoming increasingly vital in the modern world. We live in a knowledge economy where demonetization is rampant. It is a world in which technology can render previously expensive and/or inaccessible products and services much cheaper-or even free. Learning hard is the knowledge economy currency, and lovers of art do this naturally. Hampton Art Lovers believe that through culture and education, we can improve our communities and communities all over the world.

Historic Ward Rooming House

The Ward Rooming House is owned by the City of Miami SE Overtown/Park West CRA and operated by Hampton Art Lovers; the Historic Ward Rooming House Gallery has a rich socially significant history. It is an honor to bring this exhibition to this space. Built in the 1900s by an African-American family (Shaddrack and Victoria Ward), the Ward Rooming House served as a home for both African American and Native Americans who needed a safe place to sleep at night. It was designated a historic site by the City of Miami in 2006 and fully restored in 2010. Now it serves as a gallery and event space.

Built in the era of Overtown’s historic heyday, when it was known as “Colored Town,” the Ward Rooming House stands as a tribute to the history of the oldest historic black community in the City of Miami. As one of the few remaining buildings of its time, a seemingly ordinary rooming house becomes significant for a larger role, it serves in preserving the history and architecture of Miami’s Black community.

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