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Art, Music and Sunset Bring KOTE 2016 to a Vibrant Close

Kingston on the Edge 2016 closed with Art, music and a haze-filled sunset

Kingston is a seaside city. This is an easy fact to forget, especially as you hopscotch over fetid water and the cracks and crags in the sidewalk. But once we reached the deck of Forever Young a bar near the edge of the city and a stone’s through away from Coronation Market, the potential for beauty in the city became evident with the mountains and sea making a single sweeping vista.

I ended up at Forever Young, the kind of dive I would probably not normally venture into, as a part of the 2016 edition of the arts festival Kingston on the Edge (KOTE), which had ‘sunset cocktails’ as the closing event. While Forever Young is not the kind of bar that serves cocktails far outside the scope of a ‘rum and coke’, the view was certainly worth it.

Vincent J Chang tells the audience about the Kuan-Kung TempleIt’s ability to refresh itself by adding something new and different to the roster each year, is possibly one of the elements that keep fans of the KOTE festival returning each year. The 2016 edition of the eclectic arts festival ended last week with a Sunday filled with activities which showcased its diverse breadth.

The penultimate activity was one such. Many Jamaicans, and that includes some of Chinese decent, are unaware of the Kuan-Kung Temple at 129 Barry Street. The three-storied building, once the tallest in the city has been humbled by time and the arrival of the few high rises that attempt to create a city skyline. The building, which features a concrete shell and wood interiors is also constantly battling termites and the fact that it no longer has a functional purpose for the Jamaican Chinese community.

Head of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Jamaica, Vincent J Chang delivered a reasonably informed tour about the history and early use of the space by Chinese immigrants since it was built in the late 19th century through much of the 20th century. 

“A lot of people don’t realize the power of Kingston,” Chang said as he explained why the building was upgraded to three stories to ensure that it could tap into the feng shui of the sea and mountains. 

The temple rests on the third floor. It features the intricately carved shrine to Kuan-Kung, ancient Chinese warrior and ‘god of war’ who has been described as “the keeper of all good people” as well as the guardian of business owners.

'The Many Heads' of Alicia Brown as the artist poses against her installation for Copy & PlacedOf course, final Sunday of KOTE 2016 also had its fair share of the visual arts which is the main element of the festival. This came through via ‘Copy and Place’ an exhibition and artist talk with Alicia Brown as well as Last Sundays at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

The artist talk, also featuring anthropologist Charles Carnegie could have proven much more interesting had it been a conversation between the two, which probably resulted because there was no moderator. Carnegie’s insights into the city as a growing and evolving space were, however, intriguing, as are Brown’s paintings.

Notis Heavyweight Rockerz brought a great session to Last Sundays at the NGJLast Sundays featured the Digital exhibition as well as an awesome performance by Notis Heavyweight Rockerz. The name may initially seem superfluous, but as the sounds of rockers swelled in the gallery, no one would have argued the aptness of the name they had selected.

KOTE 2016 took place 17 - 26 June 2016 with approximately 30 events across the city including bars, museums, galleries, and even the zoo. The sunset wasn't the striking kind that makes it to brochures luring visitors to the island, and maybe that was just fitting, that at the end of a week of film, music, visual art and more the festival was not outdone by nature.The view from Forever Young