After discovering his talent in the late 1960s while living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vincentian-born artist Kenroy Dolly has made it big internationally.
Recently, Dolly’s artwork — the only artwork from the Caribbean — was considered for display, under the exhibit “City View,” at the Maggi Peyton Gallery, at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office in lower Manhattan.
“I was selected because I am a member-artist of the Art Students League of New York,” said Dolly in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview. “I was given the opportunity to submit my artwork for the exhibition. In doing so, my artwork was accepted.
“After checking with my colleagues and the roster list of the exhibit, I realized I was the only Caribbean/Vincentian artist present,” added Dolly about the exhibit, which was a collaboration between the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, The Art Students League of New York and the New York City Cultural Affairs Department.
The exhibit showcased the art and artistic process of members and students from the Art Students League of New York, which was founded by artists and supporting artists since 1875.
The Art Students League of New York said it has been instrumental in shaping America’s legacy in the fine arts, stating that many renowned artists have trained and taught at the League.
Today, more than 2,500 students of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels, study at the League each month. For example, it said O’Keeffe, Pollock, Rothko, Nevelson and Ai Weiwei studied at the Art Students League of New York, along with scores of other prominent artists.
“But today’s students at the League share the same passions that those greats brought to their art,” the League said, adding that it was founded by students breaking away from the US National Academy of Design.
That independent spirit remains at the League today, where students pursue their work unconstrained by dogma, politics or burdensome tuition.
The League said the format of ongoing monthly classes allows students to learn at their own pace from prominent artists, who have a range of artistic philosophies.
The League’s mission is to educate students in the language and process of making art “in an environment where anyone who wishes to pursue an art education can realize his or her full potential.
The League said it fulfills this mission by offering accessible, affordable, high quality education and instruction in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture – including welding and bronze casting – and assemblage.
As an abstract artist with a representational approach – sometime objective and non-objective, the Brooklyn-based Dolly said he has traveled, studied and participated in workshops throughout the Caribbean, North America and Europe.
He said also that he has been a participating artist in the “Open Studio,” GO program, through the Brooklyn Museum of Art, since September 2012, in which he gained “lots of recognition.”
In 2013, Dolly said he did detailed study at the Albuquerque [New Mexico] Japanese Garden “Borrowed Landscape,” with pastel instructor, Vasili Katakis, of Athens, Greece, where his works of his art were exhibited.
A year later, Dolly said he studied “Art of the Renaissance” at Studio Art Center International, currently known as Studio Art College International, in Florence, Italy, and displayed his exhibits outlining the artistic process.
This school is officially recognized by the Italian Ministry of the University and Scientific Research and Technology, and is affiliated to the Bowling Green State University in Ohio, US and the Wimbledon School of Art in London, Dolly said.
He said Studio Art College International is also recognized by the US National Association of School of Art and Design (NASAD) and by the International Association of Independent School of Art and Design (AIAS) in Europe.
In September and October 2015, Dolly said his artwork was exhibited at Jersey City Mayor’s Office in New Jersey and the Martin Luther King Center, West 43rd Street, Times Square, respectively.
In June, Dolly’s artwork was also displayed at the 2BJ Union Headquarters, under “Artist Without Frontiers,” in the Chelsea section of lower Manhattan.
Among other places, Dolly said he studied art at the Vytlacil Art Campus, Orange Town, upstate New York, and at a “Painting Adventure” in Giverny and Honfleur, France, with Instructor Frank O’Cain from The Art Students League of New York.
He said his travel study concluded with an exhibition, “Exploring Art of the Golden Age,” in the Netherlands, with League Instructor Frederick Brosen.
Dolly said detailed studies were done on some artists from the “Dutch Golden Age” and the 17th Century Canals of Amsterdam, such Rembrandt, at the Rembrandt House Museum; Vincent Van Gogh, at the Van Gogh Museum; the Rijksmuseum; Johannes Vermeer, Mauritshuis Museum; and at Escher at the Escher Museum in Den Haag.
He also studied at France Halls at the France Halls Museum in Haarlem.
Since discovering his artistic talent, Dolly said he expanded his interest by reading about art, visiting museums, exhibitions and galleries, and by traveling to Canada; the Netherlands; Italy; the United Kingdom; France; Spain; Trinidad and Tobago; and his native St. Vincent and the Grenadines, among other places.
He said his travels have helped him “discover and develop a strong sense of movement in art, while tackling new techniques in painting with artistic achievements.”
Dolly said his style of work is “Oil on Canvas,” describing it as “a broad, free brushy technique, with a decorative effect when painting.”
He said that is his artistic approach when capturing light, “modeling the form from light to dark, expressing multiple levels of artistic reality in the process.”
Dolly said expressing himself through art helps him focus in his daily life.
“It has brought relaxation, comfort, and gives me vision and scope as I turn my thoughts into art,” he said, disclosing that he listens to classical music “while painting for motivation.”
Dolly said abstract art expresses “emotions one cannot put into words.
“Colors are like words,” he said. “An artist’s palette is his / her vocabulary.”
In addition to the satisfaction he said he’s achieved establishing “a community” with other talented 32BJ artists, Dolly said he is “most proud” of his participation in the 140-year-old Art Students League of New York.
He said his artistic work has not escaped the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where he holds down a 9-5 job.
In February, he said he contributed artwork in the form of a digital exhibit, from his original artwork to the agency in support of Women History Month.
Molly said he still possesses a book by French architectural painter Maurice Utrillo, “which inspired me, as a teen, to come to New York and study art.”
He identified a few instructors from The Art Students League of New York with whom he studied over the years: Mary Beth McKenzie, Cornelia Foss, Ephraim Rubenstein and Jason Yarmosky.
Going forward, the Vincentian artist said he will continue to exhibit his artwork “in and around the New York area,” hoping “one day to have an art exhibition in my homeland of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”