Cover Story: Artist El’Roy Simmonds

Cover Story: Artist El'Roy SimmondsBorn and raised in Christiansted, St. Croix, El’Roy A. Simmonds is a man with a creative soul who has worn many hats including teacher, entrepreneur, musician, and sculptor with the most valuable being that of Fine Artist.
I earned a Bachelor of Education from the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI), now the University of the Virgin Islands. From 1976-1977, I was an exchange student at the Kuntz Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark where I conducted research on the history of the relationship between Denmark and the US Virgin Islands, reflected in my work. By 1985, I earned my Masters in Fine Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York where I worked with live models for drawing, painting, and sculpting. Then I returned home to teach until I retired in 2008.
Throughout my childhood years, I can remember being drawn to creating ‘things’ with cardboard and other raw materials while other kids played jump rope, marble, and cowboy and Indian games. I also recall when my grandmother bought me a Huckleberry Finn water coloring set which became my new pastime. During my high school years, I admired how my mentor, Harold Johnson, would sketch the images from Time magazine using color pencils; he gave me my own set adding another tool to my skill box. By my late teens, I began exploring more options like oil-based paint and it piqued my interest in pursuing a career in art but, since CVI only offered basic art classes at the time, I sought a college experience by enrolling in their Teacher’s Program (created by the Government offering free education to high school graduates in exchange for staying on to teach instead of bringing teachers in). This began my journey in education but my desire to pursue art still lingered.
Though I had played with art growing up and had a career in education, it was not until I was employed at the Pearl B. Larsen Elementary school that I was introduced to a fellow teacher by the name of Waldren ‘Wally’ Cluett who taught art at the Eulalie Rivera Elementary school in Grove place. His little family of three and my little family of three became good friends, spending much time together socially and sharing our interests including art. Through this friendship, Wally introduced me to acrylic paint, stretch canvas, and 20th century master artists. From that moment, I fell in love with Art and was committed to pursuing my career. By 1972, I had my first exhibition at the Buccaneer Hotel, hosted by Mrs. Armstrong ,though there were no sales. I had my Second Showing at the Beach Hotel, now Divi Carina Bay Resort, hosted by their manager, Patrick Sweeney. During that show, I made my first sale! In fact, I sold three pieces and knew that I had arrived at a turning point; I made a conscious decision to pursue Art as a career instead of a pastime.
El’Roy has been recognized internationally for his contributions to the Fine Arts in the US Virgin Islands, Denmark, New York, Haiti and beyond. These recognitions range from exhibits in renowned group showings at the Empire Art Gallery in New York to honors by the Virgin Islands Black History Month Committee for outstanding and dedicated contributions to the field of the Arts. He was also commissioned by the US Virgin Islands Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs Bureau of Libraries, Museums and Archaeological Services, to illustrate the first Government endorsed, V.I. History textbook, known as Clear de Road.
Cover Story: Artist El'Roy SimmondsIn this “new chapter” of his career, El’Roy is recharged, reinvigorated and reinspired by his return to his first love and main passion–Art. He offers many thanks to the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted, and his friends and family who supported his journey in creating and sharing art through his exhibit “If Walls Could Talk” last year.
El’Roy Simmonds
[email protected]
(340) 643-1537

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