Artist Spotlight – Sylvie Charlot

Artists throughout the Caribbean, we have come to learn, come with personalities and characteristics as diverse as the works they produce.  Very early in the foundation of My Island Art, we had the good fortune to meet an artist on St. Martin that absolutely personifies the serene images of island life she paints.  We were soon taken in by her warm and welcoming personality, and quickly a friendship developed.  We are thrilled today to introduce you to St. Martin based artist, Sylvie Charlot.
Sylvie Charlot copy
Born and raised in Pau, France, grew up the daughter of a father who too was an artist.  Her father was an artist, as well as a street performer, dressing as a clown and playing his guitar for the approving crowds.  His influence on her life was profound, and soon she became sensitive to painting too.  At a young age the pleasure of painting eventually became a passion in her as well. 

SC-02 Pinel
                          Islet Pinel

 

Tragedy unfortunately struck this young girl,  and at the tender age of 15, Sylvie found herself alone as both parents succumbed to prolonged illness.  Her heart was crushed, and as we can all imagine, she felt a need for a change in her scenery.  In 1992 she wished to discover new horizons and decided to set down her suitcases and paint brushes in Saint Martin, F.W.I.  Sylvie shares that she was instantly taken by the beauty of the landscapes, the colors that were before her eyes, the infinite blues of the Caribbean Sea, and the soft, peaceful life of the islands.

Like all of us, life’s events have a way of leaving their marks on our character.  Such is the case with Sylvie as well.  Many of her customers have discovered and appreciate the tender views she has of the beauty of the islands.  Her depictions of its fauna and flora, as well as of the West Indian lifestyle and traditions are soothing reflections of the tropical spirit.  From her paintings swells a love for the island, that was becoming a little more her’s with each subsequent brush stroke.

Vegetable Stand

 

Sylvie is a self-taught painter whose gentle touch and pleasant smile evoke a softness found in each of her works.  She prefers to work in watercolors, finding that the transparent colors sublimate the charm of the Caribbean landscape, and likes working in acrylic oils as well.  She sets up her booth and daily exhibits her work, at the simple market along the waterfront in Marigot, St. Martin.  Always ready with a smile, and a gentle greeting, Sylvie Charlot is a shear delight to visit with.

 

We invite you to explore the works and the world of Sylvie Charlot in our Charlot Catalog.  And if you find yourself in the Market in Marigot, stop in and meet the gentle spirt that is, Sylvie Charlot.

 

Lost in a Lifestyle,
JVbytheSea


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Weekend Special – New Item, New Price!

We’re pretty excited about a new item that has just landed on our docks!  A few weeks ago we shared that we’d sent a shipment of new Keepsake Boxes to St. Martin, to be featured with one of our retailers.  Now, we’re presenting these same boxes for our retail customers.  And for this weekend only, we’re giving you a great introductory deal!

These boxes feature the work of St. Martin artist Ruby Bute, and are carefully crafted of beautiful rosewood and a stunning ceramic tile inlay.  Each box measures 5.25″ x 5.25″ x 2.25″ tall, and the top is inlaid with a 4.25″ x 4.25″ tile.

Features this colorful image of Caribbean Heritage

Through midnight Monday, get these great boxes for only $20.00/Each, or get two for only $35.00.  These make outstanding gifts that are as unique as the Caribbean.  Use the links provided below, but hurry, this deal ends Monday!

Click to Buy $20.00/Each

Click to Buy 2 for $35.00

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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A New Perspective on a St. Maarten Legend

Recently we published a story on artist and dear friend Ruby Bute.  This legend of the islands is so full of character, that it truly cannot be told in a single writing.  As a writer, poet, artist, and storyteller, to write the complete and authoritative biography of Ruby would be a daunting task.

Our story sought to introduce the general public to the

Artist Ruby Bute at work

artist and her vast talent in painting and sketching.  We chose to learn about her introduction into the world of creative arts.  Recently however we were contacted by a writer from Gadling who was writing from a different perspective.  Gadling is a compilation blog from writers at The Huffington Post.

The writer, Elizabeth Seward, was working on a blog post on St. Maarten’s Ruby Bute, and wanted use of some of our pictorial records of Ruby.  We were happy to oblige, and even more interested to see this writer’s perspective on our friend.  Check out the Gadling story Ruby Bute: A Caribbean Legend, and get another perspective on Ruby Bute.

Elizabeth Seward's Gadling blog posting

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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Photo Essay -St. Martin

For the last 13 years we have come to discover, nay fall in love with, a variety of the beautiful islands of the Caribbean.  Some offer a wealth of pristine beaches, others feature more dining and casino options, and yet all seem to have a wealth of abundant sunshine and tropical weather.  But, some things just seem to fit like Cinderella’s slipper.

For us, we continue to find we are drawn to the variety that St. Maarten/St. Martin has to offer.  After fifteen (15) visits, we now feel like we are slipping into a routine as soon as we disembark.  From a variety of nightlife options, to it’s wealth of gastronomic offerings, to its gorgeous beaches and landscapes, its 37 square miles has a great balance of what you seek in a vacation getaway.  Follow along as we offer a photographic glimpse at The Friendly Island!

The Marigot Market is a weekly hub of activity.

The Old Courthouse is a favorite photo-op among Philipsburg shoppers.

Watching the incoming air traffic at Princess Juliana, and yes they really do come in this close! Courtesy Wayfaring Travel Guide www.wayfaring.info
Cul De Sac is the home to the infamous Ma Doudou 'factory'.
Orient Beach, one of the world's most famous beaches.
Caribbean color and climate abound!

St. Maarten serves as a perfect Home Base for day trips to Anguilla, Antigua, Saba, St. Bart’s, St. Kitts and beyond!

Our favorite island hideaway, Happy Bay. Aptly named we think!

While that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, we hope we have whetted your whistle.  The dual nation island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is a diverse and inviting island.  Feel free to comment or to drop us a line with any questions about this little gem.  We love talking about our 2nd home!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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Climbing Mt. Scenery -Saba

There are times we all find ourselves lost in dreams of beautiful sun-kissed days on a pristine stretch of sand.  But maybe you’re more of a participant than a spectator.  Perhaps you long for more of an Eco-adventure when you travel.  Or maybe, like us, you just long to see if you still have it in you.  Follow along as we share a short tale about our climb up Mt. Scenery, the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Mt. Scenery from the Saba Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

Saba, a quaint island retreat located a short 12 minute flight from St. Maarten, is aptly named The Unspoiled Queen of The Caribbean.  We landed at the world’s shortest commercial runway, and were quickly whisked through the shoebox size terminal.  As we exited towards our awaiting taxi, we saw our prey looming overhead.

 

Our affable driver dropped us off in the small village of Windwardside to get our bearings, and to pick up our rental “car”.  It was early and the shops were just opening, so we figured no time better than the present to get our climb underway.  With no clear direction as to where to begin, we headed off down the street, seeking adventure.  We suspected we may have stumbled upon the trail head, as we rounded the bend in the road, and encountered this small sign in a clearing amidst the overgrowth.

With the phrase “No Time Like the Present” fresh on our lips, we boldly marched off and began our ascent of the 1,064 steps.  “One… Two… Three…”  With a terse backward glance from my wife and climbing partner, I knew I should probably just close my mouth and keep climbing.  The views even from the lower elevations were quite serene and breathtaking.  We marched on with great anticipation.

The fauna and overgrowth teemed with life.  Climbing upward we pierced the cloud bank and an eerie fog enveloped us.  At times you even went through periods of descent, while still on your way upward!

 

At one point I was quite sure we passed Frodo, and Bilbo Baggins!  Bilbo’s words rang loudly in my ears “Also I should like to know about risks… What am I going to get out of it, and am I going to come back alive?”

 

Windwardside as seen from our descent.

The views from the summit were stunning and surreal.  Clearly this was something we would not soon see in our flatland mid-western existence

 

 

In the final analysis, the descent was far and away the most treacherous part of the climb.  Heavy dew, and a mossy covering made the hand-hewn treads a true test for your footing.

Scout's Place, where you can be a Rock Star!

We concluded our trip with a stop in Scout’s Place for a quick lunch and some cool drinks.  The rewards at the end make the toil all worthwhile.  Having conquered our stated goals, we now even have the certificate to prove it.  So for a truly unique Caribbean adventure, we highly recommend a climb up Mt. Scenery.  It really is deserving of it’s name!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

 

 

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Get to Know -Ruby Bute

One of the things we enjoy most about our work at Island Art and Treasures is in getting to know the many artists that we come in contact with.  Some are up-and-coming young artists, some are aspiring bi-vocational artists, and still others are well-known, more established practitioners.  Today we introduce you to one of the latter in St. Martin resident, Ruby Bute.

I initially contacted Ruby Bute regarding participation in a calendar project we were

Ruby Bute from St. Martin, F.W.I.

producing for Island Art & Treasures.  Having spent time on internet research, and after reading the volumes of information available about her, I admit to a certain degree of trepidation, but I was instantly relieved to find that it was all for naught.  Upon our arrival we pulled up to the large painted steel gate and honked per the posted sign. After a few minutes the gate slowly slid open to allow our passing. Driving on to the yard we see her sitting on the front porch of her home as the gate slides shut behind us. We spent the day getting to know this gem of St. Martin.

Much has been written about Ruby Bute, though certainly none can do justice to her creativeness and beauty.  In addition to her paintings, Ruby exhibits her creative spirit as a writer, a poet, a teacher, and a storyteller.  For over thirty years Ruby has produced paintings that document many of the historical aspects of St. Martin’s life and culture.  Her strong colorful images capture the joyousness of such scenes of island life as Carnival, and Emancipation Day, and all serve testimony to her love and passion for the heart of St. Martin.

Emancipation Day by Ruby Bute

Born in Aruba of St. Martin parents, Ruby has been painting since the age of 6. In the early 70’s, Ruby moved to St. Maarten, her parents’ homeland, and in 1983 she held her first solo exhibition.  In 2005, Bute was decorated by her Majesty, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and is since an honorable Member of the House of Orange-Nassau. Visit her studio and you will see the proclamation and medal proudly displayed.

Exhibitions of Ruby Bute’s paintings are regularly held in St. Martin, in Amsterdam and other cities in Holland, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Saba.  Her works  are owned  by  collectors in St. Maarten, the Caribbean and the United States.

You will find examples of Ruby’s work available on our site at our Island Art Image Library.  In this short video clip, Ruby tells us about her early childhood memories, and of her love of art.

Ruby Bute, renowned as St. Maarten’s national treasure, also serves as a mentor tutor to many emerging artists.  Ruby still paints daily in her gallery or on the porch of her adjacent home.   When in St. Martin be sure to make the time to visit Ruby at her studio.  She will undoubtedly make sure you feel quite at home, while enjoying the beauty of her art, and sipping her home-made liqueurs.

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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St. Martin -Our Top 5 Beaches

With a top spot on the itineraries of all major cruise lines, one would suspect St. Martin must have something going for it.  And it certainly does, unforgettable dining, top flight resorts, modern casinos,  and not the least of which is its spectacular beaches.

Trying to narrow down and sort a list of the Top 5 Beaches of St. Martin however is a bit akin to listing the Top 5 eateries in Italy, but alas we will give it a go.  Our criteria will be far less scientific than that of the infamous Dr. Beach.  We base our list strictly upon our own personal tastes of its natural beauty, and will “sometimes” consider such things as its access, amenities, and the quality of sand and water.  But honestly, that kind of system requires far too much accounting and articulation for our liking.  So, with that in mind, grab yourselves a “frozen concoction”, slather on a little SPF 30, and settle back as we list Our Top 5 Beaches of St. Martin.

No. 5  Simpson Bay Beach  Yes, technically this beach is located on the Dutch side (St. Maarten) of this dual nation island, but for the purpose of this exercise we are going to blur the lines a bit, and ignore the trappings of international law.  Simpson Bay Beach is located on the islands southern edge, immediately adjacent to the Princess Julianna Airport.

Simpson Bay Beach

Don’t let the occasional passing jet deter you though.  With over a mile of pristine sand and calming waters, this beach has plenty to offer the residents of the resorts that dot its shore.  Restaurants and bars sprinkled amongst the palm-lined shore afford numerous options for dining, drinks, and modern facilities.  This beach offers great views at sunset, and a view of neighboring Saba.  The western end, a particular favorite of ours, is less populated than the eastern edge which approaches the more active Simpson Bay strip.

No 4 Baie Rouge  With views of Anguilla in the distance, access to this beach is via a small “paved” lot immediately off the main road, and is tended to by the ever present hawkers ready to assist you with a chair or umbrella.  Either end of this north facing shore is bounded by stunning limestone cliffs, the eastern-most featuring a window to the sea carved out by centuries of crashing waves.  At a length of approximately three fourths of a mile, walking the pinkish sands here can provide a bit of a challenge, but it has its rewards for those that persist.

Baie Rouge

The sand under foot is course and grainy, and has a certain quicksand characteristic to it.  Sinking with each step, before reaching the western end you will likely have decided to shorten your hike, as your calves will be barking under the strain.  Note that the further west you walk, the more the clothing optional standard is … well, optional!  There is only one lone shack offering drinks and light snacks, and the facilities are basic.  We suggest the fresh lobster for an awesome lunch delicacy.  You won’t be disappointed.  Walking this beach requires a bit of a commitment, but we suggest you put forth the effort.  You may find it becomes a favorite of yours as well.

No. 3 Mullet Bay Beach

Mullet Bay Beach

Quiet Mullet Bay Beach is a large white-sand beach in a beautiful moon-shaped bay, and is located next to the island’s only golf course.  Situated on the island’s western edge, the beach is also in the foreground of a resort destroyed by hurricane Luis in 1995.  But don’t let that deter you.  The beach has many shaded areas where you can find plenty of cover and enjoy a picnic, and there are even a few Lolo’s (snack shacks), where you can find refreshing food & drinks.  At times a rip current may be present at the Bay, so be aware and be sure to swim or surf with a partner. Beach amenities are available, though they are not abundant.  At a length of over 500 yards, Mullet Bay Beach, with its powdery soft sand, is one of the prettiest beaches on St. Maarten. With a wide and flat sandy shelf, and a beautiful stand of palm trees on the fringe, the beach is a picture of the idyllic tropical paradise.  We recommend a stop at Rosie’s Snack Shack for a lite bite and refreshments, and then settle in for a stunning sunset!

No. 2 Happy Bay  Access to our No. 2 beach is again not for the faint of heart, but this perfectly quiet cove proves a great place to spend a day with your lover, and enjoy the quiet solitude.  Though gaining more and more notoriety, this formerly undiscovered beach remains a break-away from the more populated tourist meccas.

Happy Bay

Park at Friar’s Beach and climb the hill to the far north end.  Bring sturdy walking shoes as the trail is rock-strewn and just a little Billy Goat-ish!  Danny has a small stand selling boat drinks and plate lunches.  He also has a few chairs to rent, though don’t go expecting Class A chaises.  With just under 300 yards in overall length, this quaint beach is a wonderfully quiet getaway.  Happy Bay is at times a popular location for the local naturists, however it is truly optional and we’ve never received a wayward glance for our textiled ways.  A beautiful little cove, with perfectly soft sand, Happy Bay is a personal favorite, and remains a must-do for our St. Martin agenda.

Our nod for St. Martin’s No. 1 Beach is Orient Beach.  Sure, others may hold different opinions, but honestly that’s just the kind of discussions we like to foster.

Orient Beach

This 1.3 mile crescent of sand is littered with dining options, has plenty of resort and villa choices, and virtually every beach activity you could muster.  With options from traditional beach fare to the more upscale French, Thai, and Italian cuisines, there is something for every appetite.  While the bay offers spacious waters more than adequate for wave-runners, windsurfing and kite-boarding, I find I do my best work from the comfort of my towel and umbrella.  The beach is meticulously tended by the various bars along the shore.  With abundant food, bars, watersports, beautiful sand, and people-watching galore, Orient Beach has it all.  And hey, in the end, who doesn’t like a good beach that’s anchored by the titillating Club Orient Resort, the infamous naturist resort that occupies the far south end.

There you have it.  Our list of the Top 5 Beaches of St. Martin.  So, what say ye?