Home Arts-Entertainment Things to do New Bella Blu Display Is of More Vintage Postcards

New Bella Blu Display Is of More Vintage Postcards


Aug. 17, 2004 – Smart strategy for an art exhibition venue: When you've got a good thing going, extend it, expand it, or produce a Part II.
What Alexander's Bella Blu is doing for its August-September show, which opens with a reception on Friday evening, is a combination of all of the above.
The exhibition that opened in mid-June at the Frenchtown restaurant was of 80 framed vintage St. Thomas postcards dating from the start of the 20th century through the 1940s. St. Thomian Ronnie Lockhart selected those particular cards for the show from his collection of "well over 300" because of their historical interest or unusual depictions of St. Thomas.
The "Old Time St. Thomas" show prompted so much interest on the part of patrons that organizer Claire Ochoa prevailed upon Lockhart to put together another using different postcards. This one, titled appropriately "Old Time St. Thomas Part II," consists of 60 framed images depicting St. Thomas places and people from the 1920s through the 1960s.
Chances are viewers may find familiar faces in these more recent ones – perhaps even themselves in more youthful days! – and this should add to the pleasure of seeing what's displayed in the show.
Again, as with the earlier exhibition, 8 by 10 reproductions of the original postcards will be available for purchase for $15. Lockhart, Bella Blu and Ochoa's Gallery St. Thomas cooperatively will donate 20 percent of the proceeds from such sales to the St. Thomas Historical Trust. The funds will go to support the not-for-profit organization in its endeavors, including the renovation of a Back Street building intended to house its offices.
Lockhart is a fourth-generation Virgin Islander and owner of the historic Crystal Palace bed and breakfast inn located in downtown Charlotte Amalie. He has served on the board of the Historical Trust for the last two years and has some of his fellow members to thank for introducing him to vintage postcard collecting.
Such cards didn't exist until federal legislation enacted in 1898 allowed entities other than the U.S. Post Office to print "mailing cards." After that, photographic images quickly caught on as a means of promoting visitor attractions and familiarizing family and friends with far-away locales.
Lockhart says the first step in his V.I. postcard collecting came "when one came up for sale on eBay." In addition to shopping online, he has acquired some cards locally, at sales and through word of mouth. All are photographic images — about 95 percent of St. Thomas and the others of St. John and St. Croix.
His oldest postcard dates from 1899, the first year after they became legal for postal purposes. But "the one rare one" in his collection "shows the old cable office after it burned in 1909," he says. "I found that on eBay. It cost $77, but it's worth it."
Part of the particular fascination of Lockhart's collection is the fact that many of the buildings and streets depicted in the photographic images remain standing and recognizable as much as a century later.
Friday's reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Frenchtown restaurant. The show will hang through Sept. 16. For more information, visit the Gallery St. Thomas Web site or call Ochoa at 777-6363.
(To read the Source preview of the initial exhibition, see "June-July Bella Blu Art Show Is of Historic Postcards".)

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