Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts / 1999-2012 – What Have We Become?
Popopstudios was a name that was scripted on a silkscreened logo designed as a brand to be adorned on experimental furniture created by John Cox in the late nineties. At that point, there was no studio, no gallery, no community, and no residency, just an idea waiting to happen. This logo was a concept inspired by Cox’s grandfather Edward Dillet, nicknamed ‘Popop’ to be some kind of beacon to emulate the spirit of grandfather who was a generous grass roots building contractor. Soon this logo would mounted on a physical structure built in 1999 in Chippingham in New Providence on the property that Popop had owned and constructed the surrounding houses and buildings.
The Original Popopstudios was designed by John Cox, modeled after an upstate New York studio of Jackson Pollock and was intended to be a work space for the artist. The 25’ x 25’ foot space soon took on a role to support and was occupied by Cox’s likeminded artists friends that found themselves on the periphery of mainstream art in the Bahamas at that time. It was the spirit of redefining Bahamian visual expression that became the mission and vision for Popopstudios. The inward, reflective mindset of the artists involved in the early days of Popop helped create the brand that still stands today. Heino Schmid, Blue Curry, Toby Lunn and Jason Bennett were among the fresh breed of fearless young practitioners that became at least part, if not a major part of the revolution of visual art in the Bahamas at the millennium.
Popopstudios operated primarily as a Gallery/studio space for the first seven years where the real groundwork was laid. In 2007, Popopstudios would expand to occupy the entire 4-acre property it once shared. At this point the operation took on a much more significant public presence. The once multi-functional gallery space existing out of one building was now an institution that stood on our four legs – Community, Gallery, Residency and Education; thus the transformation to the title: Popopstudios Center For The Visual Arts. The studio the quadrupled in size and became a working/living space for as many 13 artists working in Nassau. With the new structure came new goals and challenges.
The first 13 years of Popopstudios will be outlined, hinging on pivotal moments of its development from special exhibitions, interesting international resident projects, community achievements and future projections.
- THE EARLY YEARS / ON THE PERIPHERY
- CREATING THE CRITICAL MASS
- THE BIGGER SYSTEM/THE BIGGER PICTURE
Born in Nassau in 1973, John Cox is a mixed media artist whose work focuses on the everyday. He is known for large format paintings, found object assemblages, collage and non-traditional printmaking. The work often references distant places and ideas, but is executed with familiar and ordinary materials. He has been a major part of the Bahamian art scene for the past 20 years and played a significant role in redefining art in the Bahamas. Though Cox started as an architecture studentat the Rhode Island School of Design, he found his niche in illustration. He received a BFA in Illustration in 1995 and a Masters in Art Education in 1996. Soon after, his first international solo exhibition took place in Hong Kong. Cox has also been part of many regional and international exhibitions including the International Professional Artist Symposium and Exchange (IPASE) project, Funky Nassau in Weisbaden Germany, Wrestling with the Image in Washington DC and Master Artists of the Bahamas in Waterloo, Iowa, to name a few. Cox is the chief curator at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. He previously taught in the art department at the College of the Bahamas for six years. He is also the founder of Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts—an artists’ cooperative.
About Ateliers ’89
The Foundation Ateliers ’89 offers Arubans and others interested from the Caribbean region an orientation on contemporary applied art and design. Workshops in different disciplines as painting, installations, video-art, photography, drawing, fashion, theatrical-design, ceramics, animation, graphic design and history of art are organized in a spacious, open and comfortable setting. Established foreign and local artist teach at the studio ‘s. Every workshop culminates in an exhibition which is open to the public. Furthermore, there are special workshops and tours of the exhibitions for children and young students. Ateliers ’89 works in close cooperation with a number of art academies in the Netherlands. This way, young talents who started off in the workshops of Ateliers ’89 can easily find their way to a Dutch academy.