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The Art Of Carnival Exploring The Art Of Caribbean Carnival Costumes

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From Port-of-Spain to London to New York to Toronto, cities throughout the Caribbean, Europe, and North America annually celebrate Carnival—a lively cultural street masquerade that marries the traditions of music, dance, and the pageantry of Caribbean culture. The main artistic vein of Carnival or mas as it is popularly called, is the intricately designed costumes of brightly colored plumage, sequins, and other material.

Carnival costume designers like world-famous Peter Minshall marry fine art and literature with performing art, combining the qualities of sculpture and movement into his dramatic pieces. Art Off the Main : The Show of Contemporary African, Caribbean, and Latin American Art, the annual exhibition of native and Diaspora creations, is a platform for the Caribbean fine arts that have influenced Minshall, Liverpool, and other Carnival costume designers.

Minshall is a Guyana-born designer and was raised in Trinidad & Tobago, the home of Carnival in the Caribbean, and began his career making costumes for himself and his family in the early 1970’s. Using literary and cultural themes as a backdrop for his designs, Minshall first gained recognition in 1975 with his creation “From the Land of the Hummingbird”—a costume that took five weeks and twelve people to make. With the costume made of 104 giant feathers, each made of 150 pieces of fabric, the design made Minshall an instant sensation throughout Trinidad, and soon the entire Caribbean region and the Diaspora. Trinidadian Designers such as Minshall, and later Stephen Derek and Alvin Daily have become leaders in mas costume design leading the Caribbean, and the Diaspora in some of the world’s most magnificent and awesome designs.

In Brooklyn, New York, home of the biggest and most popular Carnival in the United States, attracting over 4 million people annually, Carnival costume design and production has become for many Caribbean nationals and Caribbean-American, an annual pride parade of costume and traditions that celebrates their contribution to the mélange of American culture.

“The passion of working with costumes come from being able to display your culture,” comments St. Vincent-born and New York-based costume designer Colin Liverpool. “In a city like New York, which is so diverse, it’s good to be able to show what you’ve grown up with, to show your individuality.”

Art Off The Main: The Show of Contemporary, African, Caribbean, and Latin American Art embraces the power of art and artist to change lives. This fine art fair offers a wide range of Caribbean, African and Latino art so that novices, new collectors and seasoned art patrons alike can find works that appeal to them. Art Off The Main launches its third annual staging with the Gala Charity Benefit on Thursday, October 5, 2006, and the New Collector’s Night, Paint It Pink, Friday, October 6, 2006, is the cocktail reception where the younger generation of art enthusiasts will get the opportunity to mingle with the world’s finest artists and art dealers

Education: The Door to Opportunities is the theme of the 2006 opening night Gala Charity Benefit and consequently includes a strong charitable component in its programming. This year’s Beneficiaries are The African, Medical & Research Foundation recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Award for Global Health, The University of New Orleans whose students were affected by Katrina, the Young Survival Coalition, a community of young breast cancer survivors and Share/LatinaSHARE.

General admission to the show is $12.00. Admission for the opening night Gala Charity Benefit is $100.00 and the New Collector’s Night, Paint It Pink, is $60.00. Student discount with a valid student I.D. is $8.00. For tickets or additional information, contact Crawford Billings Associates, Inc., 240 E. 13th Street, New York, N.Y., 10003, 212-473-8649 or visit www.artoffthemain.com.

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Written by Staff Writer