In St Thomas, Finding the Cure for the Common Souvenir

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - February 23, 2015

By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

My expectations were low.

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Our cruise had just docked at the port in St Thomas, where store after store proffered the usual: tie-dye T-shirts, gauzy sun-dresses, and duty-free designer-branded bling. There’s nothing authentic here, no locally made mementos to be found in this retail wasteland, I thought.

I was wrong.


Because there, near the mojito stand and the ice cream shop, an aqua-and-white storefront suddenly caught my eye. Sea glass jewelry; hand-painted driftwood signs; and tea towels with marine motifs displayed on tables outside looked promising. Inside, a mosaic of brightly colored canvases hung on the walls made my pulse quicken: Could I have found my local “shopportunity?”


I was right.

Turns out that Art Haven, a two-year-old kiosk at the Yacht Haven Grande complex, specializes in Virgin Islands-made art, craft and jewelry.


There are silver-and-leather wrist wraps from Banana Rum Studios; watercolor prints by celebrated VI artist Ray Miles; silver bracelets and earrings from IB Designs; and tasteful ceramic sea urchin paperweights from Gina Fedderson’s Isola Bella line. I was particularly charmed by the original oil paintings by Art Haven’s owner Jen Papataros, who takes discarded cabinet doors and transforms them into works of art.


“We have so much talent here in the USVI,” Jen told me. “I love to share our artists’ work.” And hers is a gift that keeps on giving, with a trove of souvenirs that start at a very reasonable $20 and go up to $700 for an original oil on canvas.

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