Master Portrait Artist Griffith decorated with cultural prize

POSTED: 07/2/13 12:46 PM

St. Maarten – 94- year-old Cenrick Griffith who has made his home on the island for the last 54 years has been awarded the Culture Prize of the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund for his excellent portrait skills as an artist. Among the accolades he received were the “Master Portrait Artist” and a “small man with a strong hand” and therefore a man to be reckoned with.

Governor Eugène Holiday said that he had known Griffith all his life as still wonders what he (Griffith) had to discuss with his mother whenever he visited their home, he said in jest. He explained that the award was made possible through the Prince Bernard Culture fund and Griffith was awarded for his excellence as a visual artist and for his outstanding body of work and contributions to all of St. Maarten.

In reflection on Griffith work as an artist, he was pleased to work with the committee “to select a very deserving artist for recognition for the culture prize of St. Maarten. He said that he was honored to nominate Griffith for the culture prize for 2013 and the recognition of artists such as he will continue to inspire existing artists “and awaken the untapped spirit of aspiring artists,” said Holiday.

He spoke of the excitement when he informed Griffith on the telephone of his nomination which he tried to hide, when he was given the news. He said he was pleased, honored and happy because “art in my view is the recording of the history of a people through the eyes of an artist.” Paintings are the documentation and transmission of cultural images within and across generations.

He referred to Griffith as “highly gifted” and mentioned that persons “do not stand still to realize and appreciate the magnitude of the gifts that you have granted us. He mentioned that among his favorites are the painting Mother in Trouble, the Cane Cutter and Portrait of a Man.  He described Griffith’s work “as a testimony of his exceptional artistry” which qualifies him for the title of “Master Portrait Artist.”

“I am very grateful to the organization” said Griffith upon receiving the award. “I cannot find words to express my gratitude.” He promised to continue to help those who are interested in the work of art since he finds it necessary for people to find a hobby will certainly assist “in getting rid of the stress,” said Griffith.

In reminiscing on her relationship with the artist, Minister of Education Culture and Sports Patricia Lourens said that the first time she learned about the artist was when she was a young girl and found a painting in her grandmother’s home with a range of hills. She would look at the picture and be fascinated with the colors and the way the painting was done. She inquired about the artist and was told to take the picture from off the wall where it had been standing. She then asked where he was located; her grandmother could not give any answer. She now understands that this painting has extreme value and promises to bring it for him to see.

She spoke of him as being the jester in the group when he was a colleague at the FVPT School which is now the St. Maarten Academy. The minister described Griffith as a “very determined man” because he always spoke of doing his own laundry and never “any woman to do that for him,” since he felt that they could not do it as good.

The minister said that the award is “well deserved,” and called on the artist to continue to assist others. She noted that teacher Henry Thomas of the St. Maarten Academy was among those who had “learnt the art of painting at his feet.”

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams saw the award as “very fitting” and his work as a contribution to St. Maarten for so many decades. She joined those who gave him accolades for his outstanding work as an artist.

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