Story by Claudia Colli
Jinx Morgan's paintings reflect the beauty of her vibrant surroundings: lush tropical gardens, lacy hammocks, cooling seascapes and the Caribbean-style buildings that dot the island. They blend tradition and whimsy, along with the deft use of color and light.
"Jinx is one of the most prominent artists we have here in the BVI," says Lisa Muddiman Gray, owner of The Gallery, which will be hosting an exhibition of Jinx's works from February 4th to 28th. "She paints the beautiful calming side of the BVI which we often forget about in our daily lives here, but is one of the main reasons so many are drawn to the islands. Then when you look beyond the charm of the subject you can see her true skill as a watercolor artist, how she applies the paint to the paper, her use of light and her pallet of color."
Jinx began her varied career as a food writer for Bon Appetit for which she and her husband, Jeff, wrote a monthly column. She was the food editor for the American Airlines in-flight magazine, American Way, and as much as she enjoyed food and writing, she found that she also wanted to paint. She took her first art class in San Francisco but did not pursue painting seriously until 25 years ago after she and Jeff bought the Sugar Mill Hotel in Apple Bay. The hotel, built around a 370-year-old sugar mill, was historic and charming. It had a beach bar on the water and a restaurant known for its fine dining nestled within the former distillery's stonewalls. The pool was built within the sugar works' former mill round and Caribbean-style hotel rooms dotted the hillsides. For Jeff and Jinx, it was the beginning of a life changing Caribbean adventure.
Jinx Morgan's Painting
Running a small hotel on a Caribbean island had its challenges, but the couple utilized their food writing skills to turn the restaurant into one of the BVI's most popular restaurants and their creativity to transform the hotel into "One of the Top 10 Hotels in the Caribbean" according to a Condé Nast Traveler readers' poll.
The opening reception for Jinx Morgan's exhibition will be held at the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum on February 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The show will continue through the month of February.
The first five years of running the hotel left little time for other pursuits, Jinx says. She still wrote her monthly food columns, and making guests happy and tending to the hotel's day-to-day operation was time consuming. But as time went on, she began to think about painting again. She took an art class on Tortola with artist Roger Burnett, and attended a workshop in New Orleans by the well-known watercolorist, Judi Betts. This, she says, was a "defining moment in the direction I took stylistically at that time, although I later began to branch into my own direction."
She also began organizing artist workshops at the Sugar Mill Hotel attended by hotel guests and artists from her weekly painting group. The teacher that most impacted her art was St Thomas based painter David Millard, who gave her advice she has never forgotten: "Don't let anyone box you in. You're the one with the brush; you can paint what and how you want from the heart."
Jinx Morgan's Painting
According to friend and fellow artist, Savanna Redman, "Jinx Morgan's paintings of bright tropical flowers, gorgeous bays and verandas dabbled with bright sunlight and color-rich shadow are sunny places that make you want to curl up like a cat and soak in the rays and the view."