April 19, 2004 – Usually the artwork featured in Mango Tango Art Gallery shows hangs for several weeks, if not a month or more. But not the centerpiece of the one that opened on Friday evening.
The reception opening the exhibition of paintings by W.B. Thompson was billed as a "preview" of his 80-foot mural, "Carnival: An Island's Collective Imagination."
The mural, with its life-size figures painted in panels 80 inches square, was displayed around four walls, with three panels on each surface.
But it's not there any more.
That's because on Sunday the entire mural was moved to its intended permanent site the second floor of Roy L. Schneider Hospital. It was commissioned by Mango Tango as a gift from the gallery and the artist to the people of the Virgin Islands — and in particular to celebrate the recent accreditation of the hospital.
The timing could not have been better, given the mural's subject matter. The annual V.I. Carnival celebration in the hospital took place Monday evening in the lobby — where celebrants could look upward and see the artwork on the level above.
More than 200 people turned out for Friday's meet-the-artist reception, according to a release from Mango Tango. Among them were Rodney E. Miller Sr., Schneider Hospital chief executive officer; Amos Carty, chief operating officer; and Lillia King and Michael Burton of the hospital staff. Also on hand were the V.I. Carnival Committee's executive director, Caswill Callender, and his wife; Edythe Dirke, Ron and Susan Moorehead Rogert Parent, Lana Smith and Will Trimmer.
The works in Thompson's show other than the mural remain on display at the gallery, located in Al Cohen's Plaza atop Raphune Hill. The show includes a number of mixed-media paintings he created as studies for the mural. Eight of these pieces are 15 by 47 inches in size, and two of them sold Friday evening, the release stated, as did a floral 42 inches by 64 inches purchased by a collector who already owned eight of the artist's works.
Mango Tango owner Jane Coombes noted on Friday that her art opening was one of two on the island that evening relating to Carnival. She readily directed visitors to the other, as well a showing at Bella Blu in Frenchtown, coordinated by Gallery St. Thomas, of V.I. Carnival Committee photographer Alan Klein's images of calypsonians.
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