Renowned Artist returns home for first local show in 15 years
When your work is displayed internationally in Germany, London, and the Carribean, one might wonder about the need to return to where it all began. Bernard Hoyes, famous and critically acclaimed artist, replied, “Because its about where you started from.”
“My first showing was at William Grant Stills on Adams. I had a lot of support here from within the community,” he recalls. Although his professional career began on Adams, his love for art and expression began years earlier.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Hoyes developed an appreciation and deep passion for art at a very young age. A “lifetime” artist, he studied local painters and carvers and began to hone his own artistic abilities.
Hoyes went to live with his great aunt during his early childhood. A priestess and healer within her community, she exposed Hoyes to the “backyard church” as he calls it, or revival cults, an Afro-Christian sect with strong African roots that was first introduced to Jamaica in 1861. His great aunt’s teachings heavily influenced him and his spiritual connection is overwhelmingly represented within his compositions.
Saying goodbye to Jamaica but holding steadfast to the traditions and teachings of his homeland, Hoyes moved to New York when he was 15. Although he received formal training at the Junior Art Centre at the Institute of Jamaica, Hoyes was primarily self-taught. His work, much of which is displayed within the Los Angeles community, is imbued with his passions—several aspects of Afro-Caribbean religion, a rejoicing of the culture and life that is the African Diaspora, and a tradition of color vibrancy and dynamic motion.
“I want viewers to feel uplifted and refreshed [upon viewing my work] because it represents a common thread to our spiritual roots,” said Hoyes. His paintings and works of art pull from culture-related scenes that are heavily based on spirituality. He invokes the spirit of his African ancestry to celebrate a culture and the unity of a nation of spiritual people. For his continued representation of the African Diaspora, Hoyes was also selected for a 2008 calendar that celebrates influential immigrants in the development of Black culture worldwide titled 366 Days of Black History Migrations.
Hoyes’ deep spirituality and expression of African traditions led to a very supportive relationship with First African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Rev. Cecil Murray and F.A.M.E. were very supportive of me from the beginning,” said Hoyes. As homage to the struggles that minorities have faced and to inspire future generations to continue to pursue their dreams, Hoyes dedicated a mural, “In the Spirit of Contribution”, to the community on LaSalle and 21st Street with the sponsorship of First A.M.E.
Hoyes was recently commissioned by Verizon Wireless to represent Los Angeles with artwork in support of the “How Sweet the Sound” national choir competition, which is also being sponsored by the company. The competition will celebrate three fundamental pillars of African American culture-community, music, and church. Hoyes’ piece was chosen because of his ability to seemingly effortlessly combine all three themes. Verizon is also reportedly giving funds to F.A.M.E. to restore the mural that Hoyes dedicateed nearly a decade ago.
Private collectors of Hoyes’ majestic pieces include Natalie Cole, Steve Harvey, Keenan Ivory Wayans, the National Urban League, and Lady O herself. His work can currently be seen on exhibit by the M. Hanks Gallery, located at 3008 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA. until August 16th or on group display with the California Artists Council of Los Angeles at the Sentinel until October. For more information or to view Hoyes’ masterpieces, visit bernardhoyes.com.