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Mural 60 - Rose Town, Kingston, Jamaica
MARTIN
 

Three hours after I finished my mural in Standpipe, I found myself at the next location, across Kingston in Rose Town. The community had some history that was never fully explained to me. But, Jamaica had civil unrest in the 1970’s and a lot of Rose Town was decimated. My mural was painted at the Rollins Enterprise Center, a community center surrounded by empty city blocks. It was not exactly empty. There was lush tropical vegetation in all directions. The place was packed with potential for future development in an ever-growing Kingston.

I met with about six to eight people in the community and explained what I do. If they had no idea where to start, I said they might want to consider illustrating “Rose Town” in a manner similar to what I just completed in the Standpipe community.

They loved the idea.

To start the design for the “R”, I used part of the Rose Town Foundation logo. It featured a huge red rose cupped in two hands.

The “O” focused on their library, education and a sewing machine with projects designed for both youth and adults.

For the letter “S”, there was an emphasis on local agriculture. The Rollins Enterprise Center had enough space for a large Art Deco style facility, but there was more than enough land for a community garden as well. Their main crops were okra, sweet peppers, spinach and callaloo. If you’ve never heard of callaloo, it’s also called pigweed. That didn’t help me either. But, it’s a green kind of like spinach. Now, I’ve not done any gardening since I was a child. I hated it then and I’ve never changed my mind. But, if I were going to grow anything in my Jamaican garden, I’d probably stick with the pumpkins or squash that I also saw growing in Rose Town.

Arts, crafts and soccer were the emphasis for the letter “E”. What can I say? Of course, I’m pleased to have an emphasis in the arts.

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For the “T”, some local favorite games were illustrated. I love the colors in the loodie board. Apparently, bingo was a local favorite. And, of course, I had to toss in a domino. This time, the tile had a six (without controversy) and a blank because it was mural 60. PictureNot everyone was a sweltering, withered mess.

Rose Town was a prime location for local clay. So, that was the emphasis for the letter “O”. I guess it was all over the place. They even sold clay to Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. I had a small tour to see one of so many clay pits, right next to the Rollins Enterprise Center. Then, I was taken to the location where the clay was molded into pots and baked in earthen kilns. Now, I already told you how I feel about gardening. I think working on an earthen kiln in Jamaica would be even lower on my list. I was already so hot. I was such a sweltering, withered mess. There is no need to get closer to something so very hot. No, thank you very much. Nope. Not happening.

The original sketch for the “W” included a Jamaican drum and a kid with cotton candy. Yes, cotton candy. If you purchased cotton candy at any event in Kingston, it would most likely be made in Rose Town. However, I was asked to redraw that design. In Rose Town, no party included a traditional Jamaican drum. They preferred speakers, turn-tables and dancing. So, that’s what they got.

The final letter, the “N”, depicted their inclusivity with all nations. Rose Town was especially linked to the British monarchy. Prince Charles once visited Kingston and his tour included Rose Town. His charitable funding was used to help restore the Rollins Enterprise Center. Who knew I’d ever work on anything even closely related to the crown?

The Rollins Enterprise Center had a unique shape. The mural design, on two panels, needed to be four feet by sixteen feet. After painting, the panels were installed on an exterior wall above some very prickly plants. I advised the powers that be well in advance that they really didn’t want volunteers climbing on scaffolding so high. Fortunately, they listened.

So, we painted on panels that rested on tables. You would think this would be a breeze. But, there was no breeze. And, in case you haven’t paid attention to what I’ve already said, I sweat a lot in the tropics. It isn’t just mild perspiration. This is soaked through shirts, lines of sweat running down my face, damp hair and dripping from all over my body kind of sweat. Yes, I seriously mean dripping. When I leaned over the panel to paint, sweat dripped from my shirt, chin, elbows and hands. Let the drips drop where they may. There’s no controlling this kind of event. Sometimes they landed on wet paint that would need to dry before touching up. And, just in case you asked yourself, no, this wasn’t happening to anyone else at the mural site.

I was special.

MARTIN
Copyright 2019 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.