50 years as CEO of the Devonish Art Gallery is a long time; gone are the days when the gallery was managed by two staff members and my presence was at my convenience. Increase in salaries and availability of honest, reliable staff are hard to find. Today, myself and wifey are the only managers of the gallery.
Wifey is a jewelry beader and makes beautiful bracelets and necklaces; her desire is to stay home and produce. As for me, my hair is turning gray and the years are adding up, my desire also is to create, rather than manage. To be specific, we would both love to divest ourselves of the Art Gallery and spend our remaining working years creating rather than as managers and sales persons. My dream is to keep the Devonish name alive by finding retail outlets for our entire production, marketing our work on a consignment and wholesale basis, where we would not be responsible for any aspect of the financial ownership or management of the outlet.
The 50-year journey had its ups and downs and spanned North America, Europe, and the Caribbean. The journey started out with ceramics as the focus but gradually changed to wood carving, and now bead jewelry by the wife. International exhibitions featured heavily during the first 30 years, but stress from traveling now confines me to the little rock of Anguilla, the home of the Devonish Art Gallery for the past 31 years: the most lucrative years in its existence being 2005 to 2007.
Since 2007, we have experienced a steady decline in earnings, the contributing factors are too complicated to discuss at this time. The highlights of the 50 years are the two exhibitions in Trinidad, one exhibition at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, one at Hartwick College, Oneonta, upstate NY, and one at Gallery Caribe in Philadelphia, though no longer in existence, hold fond memories. I was transported from the Philadelphia airport by limousine and served champagne all the way to my destination.
I must include my final exhibition in Barbados at the Queens Park Gallery in 1969. It was a joint exhibition with a great fiber artist Rosylyn Watson. Incidentally, both Roslyn Watson and myself has just been invited to host another exhibition at the said Queens Park Gallery in December 2020. May God spare both our lives to make the exhibition a reality.
During those fifty years, the three engagements as Artist in Residences were outstanding achievements: Lincoln University, Hartwick College, and the Philadelphia clay studio. It would be ungrateful of me not to mention some outstanding people who contributed to my journey during those 50 years: Professor Marcia Grassi, former marketing professor at Drexel University; Tom Morgan and Erna MacReynolds from Smith Barney, Oneonta NY; friend and fellow artist Roslyn Watson; and my dear wife, Carrolle Perry Devonish.
My greatest carving experience so far is with wood from the historic 300+ year old Anguilla Mahogany tree, the most beautiful mahogany I have ever seen. I am in the process of carving the last of the wood.