For almost fifty years, Belizeans have been enjoying panades, ducunu or rice and beans with Coca Cola and making the internationally successful beverage, a Belizean staple. To commemorate this golden achievement, Bowen and Bowen Limited teamed up with artist Gilvano Swasey to actualize the Open Happiness competition. This competition invited the participation of professional and student artists from each of the six districts to create their version of a Coca Cola moment under the theme open happiness. The art competition, also a traveling exhibit, commenced its tour of the country at the House of Culture (Government House) in Belize City on May 8, 2012. Another element of the competition is an auction in support of Lifeline Foundation, which supports children.
Thirty professional artists were invited of which twenty seven participated in addition to the invitation of thirty schools, of which twenty three participated. Each artist or school participating in the competition was given a canvas and a stipend to purchase art supplies. A total of 50 submissions were entered from which a panel of judges, comprised of a photographer, a sculptor, a graphic designer and a representative from Bowen and Bowen Limited, was to select a first, second and third place winner from the two categories.
Definitely the panel had a challenge to select only three peices from the twenty seven, as the competition received entries from Pen Cayetano, Lita Krohn, Caryolyn Carr, Eduardo "Papo" Alamilla, Deborah Usher, Rachael Heusner, Terryl Godoy (Man at Work), Manuel "Daza" Gonzalez, Lola Delgado, Briheda Haylock, Kelvin Baizar and Daniel Cano, to name a few. All the professional artists brought the symbology of Coca Cola to their signature style. Viewing all 27 pieces together was surely a sight, as these all verbalized Coca Cola but in the artists' native tongue. This is to say, that Marcos Manzanero, for example, speaks a different visual language from Greta Leslie, Ernest Garcia, Debbie Cooper, or Anton Leslie. It is always rich to see something, as seen through an artist's brushstrokes, especially when they were all given the same theme and object to translate.
The task was no easier for the panel in the second category, as all the participating schools brought their respective 'A' games to the competition. The youth, humour, and vivid chromatic display offered by the entries from Corozal Community College, Pallotti High School, Sacred Heart College, Orange Walk Technical High School, Delille Academy, Toledo Community College, and the other 17 entries, were truly spectacular. The visual language which the students, of the twenty three participating schools, are developing must be commended and their teachers and principals recognized for fostering and nurturing the talent of the young Belizean artists.
Still, winners had to be chosen, and for the professional artist category Carolyn Carr placed third, Eduardo "Papo" Allamilla placed second and Terryl "Man at Work" Godoy placed first. Mount Carmel High School, with an entry from Jose Martinez, placed third, Muffles College, with and entry from Jareny Rivera placed second, while Maud Williams High School, with and entry from Michael Martinez, Gaynel Vernon, Marlon Ack, Kiara Vargas, and Ruel Riverol, took the first place.
All these pieces showed the artists' representation of a Coca Cola moment and these, along with the other forty four paintings are currently on display at the Government House until May 25. You can swing by to see for yourself how each artist expresses Open Happiness.