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Gallery News & Announcements

One role of a Gallery Art Show is to learn more about the Vieques natural environment, to bring the community together, and to enjoy art. The opening of FACEDOWN VIEQUES/ Mirando Hacia Abajo did all three.

The occasion was the beautiful underwater photography taken over the last two years by four members of the Vieques Facedown Snorkle Group: Eileen Civitello, Donna Cisneros, Shannon Cunniff, and Margaret Griffin. The photographs reveal a Vieques world that as one visitor commented many people do not know. Vieques is surrounded by coral reefs, home to numerous types of animals: sponges, gorgonian corals, hard corals, urchins, as well as fish.

In this photograph by Shannon Squirrel Fish dodge in and out of coral.

Venus Sea Fans at Tres Palmitas sway in an underwater garden in a photograph by Donna.

This one octopus, stretching and curling along the reef, blooming in colors and patterns, performed for Eileen at Punta Arenas

Margaret captured in black and white a green turtle, an endangered species, coming up for air.

Behind this photograph of three of the photographers, left to right Donna, Margaret, Eileen (Shannon was not on island) and the organizer of the show Elizabeth, you catch a glimpse of the show which was expertly installed by Eileen.  She designed the poster as well.

In the central horizontal vitrine Elizabeth added a display noting some important facts. Coral reefs host about 25% of all ocean species; they also provide storm protection. But due to damage caused by hurricanes like Maria and due to global warming, the VCHT is now working to protect this magical and vital world. An important NOAA grant will allow the VCHT to launch a restoration project focused on the interrelated eco-systems of mangroves, corals and sea grass, especially at the mouth of Bio Bay.  You can catch a glimpse of Mark Martin Bras taking underwater notes on corals and their health!

At the opening on Jan. 20, a festive occasion catered by Arenamar Cafe, the Facedown community and the larger community gathered to enjoy refreshments including lion fish sashimi. Lion Fish though beautiful are invasive and very destructive, eating other fish. Abdiel Connelly, who runs a school on sustainable fishing SAMAR on Vieques, caught the lion fish that ended as sashimi. Here he speaks about his efforts to the very well-attended opening.

The energy of the Facedown snorkle group which always welcomes new visitors bubbled through the crowd. Short videos by Shannon and Todd Bosch were playing in the Littleford Pavilion. People visited the Gift Shop to leave their name and contact number to buy a photograph, proceeds supporting the work of the Trust (the prints are Mixtiles, light weight, and attach easily to the wall). They can be picked up at the end of the exhibition which is now set at Wednesday March 7. Remaining photos will be placed for sale at the Gift Shop.


An upcoming VCHT event related to this underwater world will be a talk by Dr. René Esteves of Sea Grant, "The Impact of Climate Change on Fisheries," Sat. Feb. 17, 5 pm. at Barbosa Center for the Environment and Resiliency.


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