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In Defense of the National Gallery of Jamaica's Director

Over the last month, the National Gallery of Jamaica's executive director's leadership was the target of criticism, first via an anonymous letter written to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, and then in a blog post written by blogger Annie Paul, which she prefaced by saying:

I’ve been closely involved with the Gallery, serving on its Exhibitions Committee for the last few years and before that its PR Committee. In these capacities I’ve been privy to some of the internal workings of the institution and have experienced at first hand some of the problems I will be detailing in this post.

Now, a different perspective has come to light, in the form of a letter to the editor from Jamaican artist Jacqueline Bishop, who writes “about the Veerle Poupeye I know”:

I have never known anyone to champion Jamaican art and Jamaican artists as tirelessly as Veerle Poupeye does.

Consequently, I have watched with growing alarm and dismay as her name has been maligned, and someone of great integrity and generosity is consistently caricatured in, among other places, The Gleaner.

The ‘Concerned Visitor’ of the July 19 letter is right to point out the lack of financial and other support to the National Gallery of Jamaica. And I, too, wonder about the alignment of ‘youth’ and ‘culture’ under a single government portfolio. However, there is more than enough for Jamaicans of all shades, stripes and kinds to discuss and critique and try to understand and work against and through and towards in Jamaican art and visual art culture, without resorting to name-calling and character assassination.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will launch an exhibit to celebrate its 40th anniversary on August 31.

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