Jump into Aruba's Artistic Spirit - and Learn How to Paint, Too!
As the Aruban population is composed of numerous nationalities and walks of life, the island?s artistic community is always active at the forefront of the Caribbean scene While many of the island?s best artists are toiling away in private studios, Aruba?s most celebrated painter meets with tourists in one-of-a-kind workshopsAs the Aruban population is composed of numerous nationalities and walks of life, the island?s artistic community is always active at the forefront of the Caribbean scene. While many of the island?s best artists are toiling away in private studios, Aruba?s most celebrated painter meets with tourists in one-of-a-kind workshops. Meanwhile, the diversity of Aruban culture is represented throughout the island in galleries, shops and markets. When in Aruba, join in the ongoing artistic celebration and learn why this island boasts one of the most complex and awe-inspiring cultures in the world.
Aruba?s popular painting workshops are conducted by one of the island?s best known artists, Gustave Nouel. For decades, Nouel has been considered Aruba?s quintessential painter, capturing the spirit of the island in vibrant portraits and landscapes. When Nouel was a young student, both teachers and government officials recognized the budding artist?s talent. As a result, a young Gustave Nouel received sponsorship from the local government to study in Europe. As his body of work grew, Nouel became a fixture in Aruba?s gallery scene, amassing numerous one-man exhibitions and steady sales. Today, boasting local awards such as ?Artist of the Year? and a permanent place in the island?s ?Hall of Fame,? Nouel and his artistic legacy reign above Aruban culture.
Despite Gustave Nouel?s connection to the island, his renown and influence extend far beyond the shores of Aruba. Several of his works have found their way into the international collections of the world?s most prestigious museums and government buildings, most notably at Holland?s Royal House of Orange. Since 1980, his work has represented both Aruba and Holland at art fairs and international exhibitions in London, New York and many points in between. In 1986, Nouel was chosen to paint an immense mural at the Olympic Swimming Stadium in Madrid, a project completed with the assistance of numerous notable artists. More recently, Nouel has focused on education, conducting painting classes throughout the world for artists of all skill levels.
For the last several years, Nouel?s painting workshops have been sponsored by the Access Art Gallery in Oranjestad and local art magazine Palet. This year, Nouel has set aside more than three weeks at the beginning of high tourism season to teach curious visitors the tricks of mixing colors and capturing vivid Caribbean imagery. As the class sizes are small, the painting workshops are known for their intimate atmosphere, where guests are encouraged to ask questions about everything from artistic technique to the island?s vibrant cultural history. Nouel?s daily workshops will begin this year on November 21 and conclude before the holiday season on December 13.
Though these special workshops promise one of Aruba?s most original experiences, the painting classes are just the beginning of the island?s bustling art scene. Amongst the historic Dutch architecture of Oranjestad, visitors will find numerous galleries and community art centers. While galleries are spread throughout the capital, Oranjestad?s large shopping galleries offer one of the easiest ways to visit some Aruba?s best galleries. Under one roof, it is possible to find everything from paintings and sculptures by regional and internationally-recognized artists to locally-made crafts and folk art. Those in search of handcrafted souvenirs should also visit the Aruban Flea Market, an incredible outdoor gathering of the local vendors including many of island?s most talented artisans.
While it is to be expected that Aruban artists infuse the Caribbean scenery and atmosphere of the island into their work, many visitors are unaware of the cultural diversity that drives the local culture. Prior to the colonial period, Aruba was inhabited by native Arawak Indians, a distinctive tribe whose influence can be seen in local artwork to this day. During the colonial period, Aruba came under the rule of several European powers including Spain and Holland. Today, though Aruba is still part of the Dutch Kingdom, more than 40 nationalities are represented amongst the island?s population of 88,000. In both art and daily life, these distinctive influences blend to create one of the region?s most unique cultures.
However you choose to Aruba?s unique arts and culture, the island?s vibrant spirit never disappoints the most creative visitors.
Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Aruba for the Marriott Resorts.