Dennis Joaquin (1962-2021): Artist and humanitarian remembered
An “angel that came to share and teach” was a driven artist, humanitarian and inventor, friends have said.
Dennis Joaquin’s creations ranged from puppets to portrait paintings and murals, often featuring nature and undersea scenes, that decorated walls, homes and businesses around the island.
He brought his love of drumming and art to therapeutic sessions at seniors’ homes, and shared his flair for puppetry at schools.
Mr Joaquin, who died earlier this month, aged 59, worked at Belco for much of his life but admitted art was his driving passion.
He told The Royal Gazette in 2015 that creativity was “my incentive after being in the corporate world for 25 years”.
Mr Joaquin said: “I think we can look within ourselves to the creativity in us to create work to make a change in our environment instead of looking to others to make a change.
“Let it be with each one of us.”
Mr Joaquin worked for decades in airbrush painting and started to exhibit paintings at galleries in the 1990s and, more recently, at the Bermuda Society of Arts.
Kendra Earls, a friend, collaborator and an artist and education officer at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, said: “He was a self-made, natural artistic genius.
“He just had this gift inside of himself.”
Portraits were Mr Joaquin’s speciality and puppetry started as a hobby that included large creations for work functions.
Ms Earls said Mr Joaquin’s output soared after he retired from Belco six years ago.
The two manufactured and sold puppets for their company, Bermy Kids.
Ms Earls said Mr Joaquin “made them from scratch, from his imagination” and brought uncanny life to signature puppets such as Paul, one of his “most famous” creations.
The two ran puppetry workshops in schools for teachers and pupils.
Mr Joaquin also joined Ms Earls in art therapy for seniors and stimulated the elderly with games of his own invention and drumming circles.
Ms Earls said: “That was his love. He became famous in the seniors’ homes.
“He gave them hope, especially people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The games and art were impactful on their lives – it changed their lives.”
Mr Joaquin’s murals with Ms Earls ranged from work at Bermy Cuisine on Serpentine Road in Hamilton to the No. 1 Shed on Front Street, as well as private commissions for homes.
He said of his longtail mural on Front Street: “It helps beautify Bermuda, gives the city an atmosphere of calm and tranquility. It’s what we do.”
Peter Lapsley, the executive director of the Bermuda National Gallery, said he had worked with Mr Joaquin on the Peaceful Art Protest Mural Project last year.
Mr Lapsley said: “To say that his passion for life and art was something we should all aspire to doesn’t fully capture who he was.
“Whilst I only knew him briefly, his was an energy that led me to think that we would have many more opportunities to work together, and I looked forward to those experiences to come.”
Mr Lapsley added: “He was not only kind, committed and passionate about the many projects he was working on, but he was also a creative talent.
“It is very sad to learn of his passing, but the joy and art that he brought to the world will leave those who saw it a little brighter, and that is a truly special gift.”
Mr Joaquin, also a keen golfer and handyman, counted himself lucky to fill his time with artwork after retirement.
Memorial contributions in his name can be made to the cancer charity Pals.
Ms Earls said: “He got to spend the last part of his life doing what he loved and contributing to the arts.
“It’s encouraging for people to see that you can do it, even if it’s later in life.”
• Dennis Perry Troy Joaquin, a Bermudian artist specialising in painting, was born on May 3, 1962. He died in September 2021, aged 59.