Many came out to support "Awakenings," the most recent exhibit staged by Hampton Art Lovers.

Nature is the force all around that is supposed to sustain us. The water we drink, the breeze we feel and the vegetables that we harvest are all part of nature. If we don’t take care of these resources, they can be easily taken away. I came across individuals this weekend that emphasized the beauty of nature and how much it gives us. An artist from Jamaica hosted a reception for his latest exhibit in Overtown and a massive gathering of vegans showed me the tasty and healthy side of their food.

Basil Watson Chisel his mark in Overtown

Jamaican artist Basil Watson’s exhibit, “Awakening,” is the latest collection on display at the Historic Ward Rooming House in Overtown. The opening night reception was held on Friday, Sept. 27. It was hosted by the nonprofit organization, Hampton Art Lovers.

‘“Awakening’ is a collection of sketches and sculptures of women as representatives of mother nature. I want people to get a deeper understanding of how I view the world,” said Basil Watson. “I am trying to present the female as a representative of mother nature, as sacred ground like a natural aspect of life,” said Watson. Sculpting and drawing the human figure is Waton’s specialty. This collection is exclusively female. Some of the sculptures are made up of stone, bronze, bronze composite and terracotta. There are 26 sculptures and over 30 sketches on display. According to Watson, some of the sculptures took months to almost a year to complete.

Both local and national leaders were in attendance at the reception. Miami City Commissioner Keon Hardemon was present along with Jamaican Consul General to Miami Oliver Mair. Local art admirers were there to experience “Awakening.”

“These pieces make me feel free. The women being naturally involved in their bodies makes me feel in touch with my own African-American culture,” said Vincent Pace, Mascot coordinator of the Miami Heat.

The pieces I saw in the gallery were very revealing. It took me off guard but maybe that’s what it was supposed to do. Art is subjective. What I felt as alert, Pace felt as freedom. Watson may have accomplished his goal of making people feel. “Awakening” is on display now until Nov. 16.

Vegans ran the block

Vegans from all over South Florida gathered in Mana Wynwood last weekend for the second annual Vegan Block Party. The block party had vendors, games and food trucks that were all about veganism.

“I became inspired by other vegan festivals in other parts of the country and I was thinking to myself why isn’t something like this in Miami? Miami should have a huge vegan event,” said Ariel Levin, founder, and organizer of the Vegan Block Party. Being vegan is having a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from your diet. For those who may confuse veganism with vegetarianism, the difference between the two is veganism excludes items like honey, eggs, and dairy.

“I want people to leave the festival with an open mind. I want people to see that they can eat vegan food and still have a normal life as a vegan and we can all be compassionate and kind and not harm animals,” said Levine.

At the festival, I came across Black vendors who were selling some impressive products. Cameron Thomas owns The Life in Tea, a beverage company that sells a variety of plant-based teas.

“I am here to promote that tea is a beverage you can drink daily and not only when you are sick. We have been drinking tea for thousands of years, but I feel like we have forgotten it when we were taken away from our culture. Now I am trying to bring it back to the community,” said Thomas.

I purchased Thomas’s cucumber and ginger cold tea. I drank it in minutes because it had sugar cane mixed in, which made it easier to drink.

Stephanie Smith was an attendee of the festival. She shared with me how going veganism improved her quality of life.

“I’ve been vegan for two and a half years. I wanted to get rid of fibroids and things of that nature,” said Smith.

Both events this weekend showed me how much nature can take care of us if we reinvest in it. Watson is making a living off his earth-based sculptures. Levine and company are at an extraordinary level of healthy by being vegan.

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I hope you look to the earth and harvest your destiny in this whirl.

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