On June 15, 2010 members of the creative industry (visual, performing, literary) paid tribute to the artist who sculpted the once controversial statue of Bob Marley, Christopher Gonzalez. The tribute was paid in the form of a creative workshop series held by OAaSIS International in the garden parish of St Ann, at the home gallery of the artist where his wife Champagne and children currently lives.
Persons attending were Jamaicans now living in US, Canada and UK, teachers, principals, upcoming visual and performing artists, and a few students.

A fantastic evening it was on June 15 with several artists – performing, visual and literary and the Diaspora networked through the OAaSIS International Foundation, to pay tribute to artist Christopher Gonzalez.
Boom Steppa, Rollie Fresh, Reiko Nagase, Jermaine Gordon, Dwayne Hamilton, Bernard Hoyes were the compliment of the evening joining the Gonzalez family in paying tribute. The tribute was in the form of a creative workshop series, which as a result of a late start was done seminar style.
At least 14 Diaspora members and selected business persons from the area of St Ann joined principals and art teachers from that area to witness and enjoy the proceedings. Among the group were hotelier Jag Mehta, and Andy Jefferson, also respected artists for their visual expressions.

MALIK JOSEPHS PHOTO: Jermaine Gordon gives Diaspora representative from the UK, Celia Grandison-Markey a copy of his newest CD.
The evening’s highlights included a brief address by the Diaspora head, Patrick Beckford, representing Jamaicans in the US. He spoke briefly on artists he knew who were living abroad and congratulated the Foundation for the thrusts it had embarked on. Speaking specifically to the quest to better acquaint others to the talents, culture, and creative power of Jamaicans, Beckford said he was “very proud” to be a part of the organization, and to be invited to pay tribute to Chris Gonzalez” that evening.
He received high applause as did the other presenters. Art teacher from St Hilda’s, Aldain Wynt said his school recently started an art club, and described the work of OAaSIS at this time as more than a timely coincidence, as the partnering of the foundation with the club will serve to strengthen and guide the residents especially the young to making profitable changes in heir lives with their creative power. He was elated that his vision to see more persons open to the possibilities of the many opportunities of creativity and the arts, and to recognize the field beyond just painting, drawing and singing was being shared by more persons, who were doing something about it too.
Reiko from Japan, now a Jamaican made her first public address since being on the island as she spoke of her experiences in capturing Jamaican lifestyle, as well as her appreciation for the work of Christopher Gonzalez who was very talented as a sculptor and painter.
Three performing artistes, Rollie Fresh, Boom Steppa and gospel presenter Jermaine Gordon were no less a thrill and stirred many reactions and interaction with their deliveries.
While the visual artists including new artists from St Ann Dwayne Hamilton extracted many oohs and aahhhs from Diaspora members impressed by their impacting art pieces, the three performing artists did their bit to keep the evening highly energetic, cultural and a welcomed package celebrity style. They each admitted to being humbled by the showcased works of Chris Gonzalez who they thought was “just the creator of the Bob Marley Statue.
The featured exhibition was a inhouse showcase of works by the late Christopher Gonzalez, with a few documents listing his achievements and involvement of his family in the arts, which were also spoken of by Bernard Hoyes visiting from California.
Soon enough Nailah Gonzalez was inspired to demonstrate her music skills and performed beautifully on the keyboard before and with Jermaine Gordon as her contribution and appreciation for the tribute to her dad. Her two pieces were originals, and found comfort on receptive hearts.
The visitors did could not get enough of autographs and songs, and sat long after the event was over to listen to more tunes. Days after, the members were still calling to say thanks and expressed a desire to be a part of other workshops, where time allowed.
In the end promises were harnessed for shows abroad, and the foundation’s team was again commended for the efforts to empower creative minds, as well as to sensitise and make solid connections between others and Jamaican artists which for that evening was a first connection with the Diaspora.
OAaSIS International Foundation, founded by Anthea McGibbon, networks artists (literary, performing, visual, culinary) to empower creative minds of youth. The creative workshop series are the first sensitisation phases.

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