Shane Aquârt is a native of Jamaica who was educated in England, Canada and the States, and now lives on Grand Cayman Island. There, he’s dedicated his life to artistic pursuits – and the creation of a series of quirky, limited-edition Caribbean prints known as Dreadys. For the first time, his work is now on display in a gallery on Cayman, and A+A interviewed him by phone and email about his newest venue:
Where is the gallery?
It’s inside a shop called “Picture This,” in Camana Bay, on Grand Cayman. It had some underutilized space that the owners suggested we turn into a Dready gallery. It’s a permanent gallery, not a show – the space is called “The Dreadyworld Gallery at ‘Picture This’ studios.”
How do you describe Dready to someone who hasn’t seen one?
I think that the best way to describe Dready is as a mixture between Pop and Poster art, but I don’t know that that even describes it, because it’s a thing of its own, all vibe and verve and humor and life.
So you’re kind of moving of from being a guerilla artist to a real one on Cayman?
I don’t know if I was ever guerilla – maybe not quite mainstream, but still displayed on plenty of mainstream walls and mainstream gallery spaces. But definitely not that edgy and exciting as you might expect a guerilla artists to be. It’s very nice to have what you could call a “gallery of one’s own.” And although the gallery really belongs to “Picture This,” it’s dedicated completely to Dreadys.
The gallery is a collaboration between you and the owners?
The Dreadys are on consignment as they would be in any gallery, but we’ve worked on the idea together. We all sat around one evening and hung the gallery together. The gallery is owned by a family – a husband and wife and others. The first conversations that led to this idea were to present the Dreadys in a way that people could see a maximum number of them, what one person said was called a “studio hang” so there are 75 Dreadys in 400 square feet, floor to ceiling.
Even though they’re completely different, you can see the scope of them. People walk in and even those who know me walk in and are at a loss – they didn’t realize how many there are. There are a few extras around in case a spot goes empty. The total is 92, and a few are framed but most are stretched. The sizes vary, because we were trying to give a good cross-section of what’s offered.
What about pricing?
The gallery is full of limited-edition, HD, archival pigment prints, limited to 99 in the editions. The price range is from $500 to $750 in U.S. dollars. There are some cheaper, but the majority fall in there.
The target market?
The nice thing about Dready for me is that in the end there’s a diversity of kind of human beings that the art appeals to. The young kids like Dready, the adults like Dready and the Brazilians and Canadians like Dready. Sometimes people save up to buy a Dready, and how cool is it for me that people would do that? Then there are people who get on a private jet and fly away with five.
And there are some newer, updated Dreadys now?
The Chisholm Gallery in Palm Beach has Dreadys, and they’re in the middle of polo and horse country, so horses! And then I just had a commission for a client in Texas, so I drew cowboys, not football Cowboys but horse cowboys. And Sheryl Sick, a professional female polo player from Seattle, asked me to do a Dready of her horse, Rosebud, and so all these things led to more horses.
For more, go here.