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ST. MAARTEN — ST. MARTIN ART GALLERY TRAIL

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The two nation island of Sint Maarten (the Dutch side) and Saint Martin (the French side) is a popular Caribbean vacation destination. With 37 beaches, lush landscapes, plantation houses and scenic ocean views, it's not surprising that the 100 square kilometer island attracts artists.

Minguet Art Gallery posters in Grand Case
Minguet Art Gallery posters in Grand Case
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Many artists have homes, studios and art galleries on St. Maarten and Saint Martin. Visitors can meet landscape, abstract, impressionist and contemporary artists in the places where they create their oil paintings, watercolors and canvas prints.

Art galleries

Together, St. Maarten and Saint Martin have more than a dozen art galleries.

Shopping for art at Roland Richardson Gallery in Marigot
Shopping for art at Roland Richardson Gallery
in Marigot
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

They include Greenwith Gallery, Mosera Gallery, Simpson Bay Art Gallery, Antoine Chapon, Atelier 105, Francis Eck, French Impressionism Art Gallery, Galerie Camaieu, Galerie du Musee, Galeries Gingerbread & Mahogany, Lynn Studio, Minguet Art Gallery, Planet Paradise, Roland Richardson and Le Saint-Géran Arts Gallery.

We visited the art galleries on a Princess Cruises 'Round the Island Art Tour shore excursion. If you're on a vacation package, you can visit the galleries on a self-guided art studio tour. Here are some of the artists and galleries that we discovered on the St. Maarten-St. Martin Art Gallery Trail.

Roland Richardson

The Roland Richardson Gallery is located at 6 rue de la Republique in Marigot, St. Martin, in an historic 1840s-home, where Roland Richardson was born in 1944.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands honored Richardson with the Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau, the highest award of the Dutch Royal Decorations.

Suzanne Marchant holds The Flamboyant Tree painting by Roland Richardson.
Suzanne Marchant holds The Flamboyant Tree painting by Roland Richardson.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Richardson and his wife, Laura, were away when we visited, but Suzanne Marchant, his art gallery manager showed us his beautiful paintings, including The Flamboyant Tree. Called "Father of Caribbean Impressionism," Roland Richardson creates mostly oil paintings, with paint brush and palette, but he also makes lithographs, etchings, posters and aquatints.

An aquatint, we learned, is a centuries-old technique that uses fine particles of crushed plant resin to create an image on a clean etching plate. Dot patterns communicate tones, ranging from light to dark. Melted on the metal print plate, the resin particles resist the acid used to etch the drawing.

Sir Roland Richardson paints en plein air (in the field). International universities teach art students about his contribution to contemporary Plein Air Impressionism. Richardson has exhibited his artwork at more than 100 one-man and group fine art shows.

Nick Maley

Located on 106 Old Street, in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Planet Paradise sells Caribbean art and crafts. The founder, Nick Maley, created Yoda, the Star Wars character.

Maley's watercolours and prints reflect Caribbean serenity, colors and landscapes.

Antoine Chapon shows watercolor of boat in his Cul de Sac art studio.
Antoine Chapon shows watercolor of boat in his Cul de Sac art studio.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Antoine Chapon

Former photographer, Antoine Chapon, moved from France to Saint Martin in 1984. His art studio and home, at Les Terrasses de Cul de Sac #1, overlook the aquamarine Cul de Sac Bay.

Seascapes and boats inspire the soft pastels and subtle colors of his limited edition prints, watercolors and oils. "I look for ambience, not reality," he explained. "I also use several different techniques." One of them is the giclee, an inkjet high definition print.

Le Saint-Géran Art Gallery

Visitors can also see giclees (fine art digital prints), as well as sculptures and ceramics at Le Saint-Géran Art Gallery, located at 117 Front Street, Philipsburg. Established by Patricia and Dany Ramsami, the gallery houses Caribbean art from several artists in and around St. Maarten-St. Martin.

Catherine Minguet shows a painting by Alexandre Minguet in Grand Case art gallery.
Catherine Minguet shows a painting by Alexandre Minguet in Grand Case art gallery.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Minguet Art Gallery

Devoted to the art of Alexandre Minguet (1937-1996), this large, bright gallery is located in Rambaud Hill, Saint Martin, five minutes east of Marigot and two minutes west of Grand Case.

Alexandre's daughter, Catherine Minguet, showed us her father's watercolours, paintings, lithographs, reproductions, postcards and posters. They depict colorful landscapes, marine scenes, local villages and tropical flowers.

Francis Eck

Born in Alsace, Francis Eck and his wife, Monika, now live in Concordia, near Marigot, Sint Maarten. We met the Ecks at their home and art gallery at 48 rue du Soleil Levant.

Francis Eck shows his oil painting.
Francis Eck shows his oil painting.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Francis Eck uses a palette knife and trowel to create thick layers of primary colors on canvas. He exhibits his original oil paintings at numerous international galleries, art fairs, exhibitions and one-man art shows.

Eck described his style as "between realism and abstraction." He explained that he paints from memories. "The most important elements in my oil paintings are color and composition." And what does Francis Eck do when he's not painting? "Dream," he said.

The brilliant flowers, luminous light and azure seas of St. Maarten and St. Martin are undoubtedly conducive to dreaming, artistic pursuits and Caribbean vacations.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

St. Maarten Tourist Office: www.vacationstmaarten.com

Saint Martin Tourist Office: www.st-martin.org

Princess Cruises: www.princess.com

More things to see and do on St. Maarten:

Discount Hotels, Restaurants and Vacation Packages in St. Maarten

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