St. Croix Avis | SUSAN ELLIS
ST. CROIX – After successful exhibitions in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Philadelphia, New York and Europe, artist Paul Youngblood said he is thinking about coming home to St. Croix within the next few years.
Most consider Youngblood a local artist and one of the territory’s most talented and experienced painters. In addition to his stateside and European successes, his artwork was selected for a Diageo USVI poster in conjunction the rum distillery’s grand opening, last November.
Youngblood was on St. Croix for the Art Show at Canegata last weekend. Eight paintings, including one of his signature chrome reflection, automobile paintings and an intricately painted, highly colored koi pond were on display. More than 30 well-known artists displayed and sold art over the weekend at the exhibition. The last time Youngblood was on St. Croix was two years ago for a show with Betsy Campen at the St. George Botanical Gardens.
Even though Youngblood wasn’t born here, he calls St. Croix “home”. He moved here in the early 70’s and graduated from St. Dunstan’s Episcopal High School. One reason St. Croix is “home,” is that Youngblood’s mother, Thelma, a Lutheran pastor who was born on St. Croix, is still living here in the family home.
Youngblood has been an artist since he was a young boy and sold his first painting when he was in second grade. He said he began drawing in pencil, but people wanted more color, so he began painting with acrylics, his current medium. Although Youngbood has never had formal art instruction, he has created his own unique style that is popular with his patrons. “Stylized, abstract patterns to create real images,” is how Youngblood describes his work. ”Layer over layer to create three-dimensions.”
Youngblood left St. Croix after Hurricane Hugo in 1996. He left the island to mingle with the arts communities in Sarasota, Florida, he said. In Florida, Youngblood took a position with the Hyatt Hotels, where he works today. He said he was fortunate because his job allowed him to mingle in the arts communities in New Mexico, Florida and now Pennsylvania.
“Eventually, I want to move back here in the next couple of years, because I consider St. Croix my home,” Youngblood said. He misses the natural beauty, the blue water, humming birds and the culture, he said.
“It’s so inspirational. Any corner you turn, there are the bright colors, the tone of light,” he said.
Until he can make a permanent move, he will continue to visit once a year or so and would like to be chosen as an Artist in Residence at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts.
One of his goals when he returns to St. Croix permanently is to repair and restore some of the murals he and other artists painted years ago. He looks forward to restoring a mural he created with Eloy Simmonds on the Scotia Bank building and especially the mural of Bob Marley in Grove Place.
“There is so much culture in Grove Place,” Youngblood explained as the reason he wants to restore that mural first.