St. John Tradewinds News

Bajo El Sol Changes Hands; Owners to Breathe New Life into Art Gallery

The Bajo el Sol Art Gallery in Mongoose Junction is about to get a big rejuvenation thanks to new gallery owners, Priscilla Hintz Rivera de Knight, an art advocate and curator, and David Knight Jr., a journalist, photographer, and curator. Hintz Rivera de Knight has been revitalizing the St. Thomas art scene with successful events like the Caribbean Colour juried art exhibition and themed Pop-Up Gallery exhibitions, whose proceeds have gone to various local non-profit organizations. The couple hopes to breathe new life into the well-established gallery by hosting various events.

“We’re planning to establish a more event-driven schedule to draw people into the space,” said Hintz Rivera de Knight. “We plan to do very thematic curatorial exhibitions. We really want to challenge the artists to think a little bit differently about the work they’re producing.”

The new gallery owners also plan to invite artists from throughout the territory to exhibit at the gallery, which in the past featured only St. John artists.

“We’d like to reach out a little further throughout the territory because there is amazing work being produced by Virgin Islands artists on St. Croix and St. Thomas,” said Hintz Rivera de Knight. “We really want St. John artists to collaborate with other territory artists and possibly even artists from throughout the Caribbean region. We tend to isolate ourselves on small islands such as St. John, and I think by reaching out, there’s a greater possibility we can become more recognized as a destination for the arts.”

Hintz Rivera de Knight, who grew up between St. Thomas and Puerto Rico, is brimming with ideas to stimulate the St. John arts scene, many of them community-minded, like the creation of murals and sculptures in public spaces. The idea of joining the arts and the local community was inspired by Hintz Rivera de Knight’s time at Maryland’s Goucher College, where she earned a master’s degree in arts administration.

“Their emphasis as it pertained to the arts was geared toward community, and how the arts can impact the community at large, both socially and economically,” she said. “So through that I was very inspired to be more of an art advocate.”

This community-minded approach will be evident in Bajo el Sol’s schedule of events, which Hintz Rivera de Knight hopes will include book readings by Caribbean authors, student artist exhibitions, and seminars aimed at art consumers with topics like starting an art collection on a budget.

“This year is the 250th anniversary of the founding of Cruz Bay, and we were thinking it’d be interesting to use that as a basis for an exhibition theme,” said Hintz Rivera de Knight.

The couple’s ideas for the gallery are still evolving as they get to know each of the artists whose work is on display there, and they’ll likely close the gallery during off season for a makeover of the space. They expect to host their first exhibition in October. To learn more about the gallery and to view upcoming event schedules, visit www.bajoelsolgallery.com or the gallery’s Facebook page.