Posted on July 29, 2010
This donation box “for feeding the animals” is at a mini-zoo in the rainforest, part of the entertainment at a little stand that sells fabulous tropical fruit smoothies. The brightly hand-painted box sits on the metal base from an old Singer treadle sewing machine — somehow not out of place at all in this rustic location.
In another form of donation, the local Senate has just passed legislation appropriating up to $7 million for the government to negotiate the purchase of 12.4 acres of land deep in the rainforest. Now that’s almost $565,000 per acre. For comparison, a 31 acre plot in the same area is listed on MLS for $465,000. Yes, 31 acres for less than the price of one.
The land in question had been leased by the government for use as a rock quarry in 1929. That use ended in 1940, and the land was rezoned agricultural in the 1950’s, disallowing future use as a quarry. In defense of their recent action, our Senators have variously alluded to the land’s environmental and public value as parkland, to the value of the rocks still there, and to the injustice done to the owners (presumably by the rezoning over 50 years ago).
It would be nice if all families who suffered injustice over the past half century could be so compensated. I wish I understood the history and logic that allow this to move forward without public objection. It’s not as though there are no other important uses for the money.
The picture below of a Fed-Ex truck hustling along Church Street in Christiansted town illustrates the contrasts and contradictions that result from the mix of modern enterprise, with the sometimes unfamiliar island priorities and view of the world. It can be difficult at times to distinguish the things that add charm from those that cause frustration.
Posted on July 21, 2010
A play on words and the image of a dark haired seductress graces this sign hanging beneath a covered arcade in Christiansted town. The store advertises that it sells costumes and “accessories” such as lotions, bath products, “kama sutra” and more.
A few blocks away, another female gazes forlornly from behind the bars of an abandoned storefront. Someone has placed her there among the detritus of the vacant store, but close to the window and discreetly covered in brightly colored cloth.
While geographically isolated, St. Croix is still flooded with the homogeneous commercialized images of “woman” sold by corporations. But there also seems to be room for creativity and personalized imagery. I hope this kind of personalized imagery is thriving on the streets everywhere.
Posted on June 22, 2010
The quadrille, a precursor to the modern square dance, is a part of St. Croix’s cultural heritage. It was brought here from England and became a part of plantation life well before the end of slavery. Like the square dance, it is formal, with dancers changing partners regularly throughout the dance. The traditional costume includes madras plaid shirts for the men and large head scarves for the women.
In this case, the St. Croix Heritage Dancers were performing accompanied by one of the street bands at an evening festival in Christiansted. The light, the mid-street venue, and the music made for a surreal mixture of the old and the new.
Posted on May 16, 2010
I had already titled this post when fellow islander and friend Bonnie Luria released her most recent blog post titled “If You Can’t Take the Heat…” Either great minds think alike, or summer has arrived and it’s just plain hot! Most likely the latter.
The blue gate at the bottom might help cool things down a bit. It is located along a small shaded street — an alleyway, really — in downtown Christiansted. Flanked by a graceful rusted signholder on the left, the gate guards a walkway that leads to the sunlit Caribbean blue harbor a block away.
These were not finished in time to be a part of my “Local Color” exhibit that just opened Saturday night at Maufe’ Gallery in downtown Christiansted. Although some of the prints that were in the show may be familiar to regular readers of this blog, several have not been seen here before. Click on the link above or the image in the sidebar to view the entire exhibit.
Posted on March 5, 2010
Stairways, doorways. Ways in and out. Their graphic qulaities attract my eye, and the ambiguity of where they lead teases my mind. These were both in one of the many interior courtyards in old Christiansted.
The courtyard has a few small offices along the back wall and a suite of offices in one of the buildings above. The center, open to the sky, had been the site of a now defunct restaurant (business opportunity anyone?). The door with the round window was behind the bar and had the patina of long and frequent use by many hands. It seemed to look back at me as if wondering where all the people had gone.