Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’

GC Myers- Elemental Being smYesterday was a day to crash after a somewhat  hectic week, at least by my standards.  It was a week filled with hurried preparation, a lot of driving, some new experiences , meeting new (and old) friends and far more talking than I am used to.  By the time I finally got to stop yesterday afternoon, I laid down on the floor of my studio next to Hobie, my loving studio cat who had her nose slightly bent out of joint by my absences in the past week, and closed my eyes and quickly fell to sleep to the rhythms of Hobie’s incredibly loud purr of satisfaction.  It was the most satisfying little nap I had taken in some time.

The Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery on Sunday started slowly with a smaller group at its beginning that grew and grew as the time passed until the space was crowded.  That’s always nice because it seems that when the group is larger people are more liable to ask questions.  They are almost a little more shy when it is a smaller group and a larger group gives them cover.  But it ended up being a good talk that I think was entertaining and informative with a nice back and forth flow between us.

I know that I enjoyed myself especially when it was time to give away a few things at the end of the talk.  That’s always a fun time for the audience as well as myself.  It sounds goofy and even a little cheesy but I really enjoy being able to do this at my talks.  I’ve said this before but it’s a small token compared to everything that I have received from doing this.  Plus it’s just great to see the faces of people when they get even a small gift.

It was especially satisfying when two small girls, each no more than 9 or 10 I am sure,  each took home something on Sunday.  They were there with their dad and he told me that they had asked to come to the talk.  The family had two of my paintings, one a large Red Tree and another from the Archaeology series, and the girls love them.  One had brought a drawing she had made copying the composition of their Red Tree painting and the other, a lovely small drawing of leaves.  They asked me to sign them for them and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to me, how much it moves and amazes me even now as I sit here.

Leija and Scott DeLisi with me Principle Gallery Talk 2015

Leija and Scott DeLisi with me Principle Gallery Talk 2015

Also, another satisfying moment came when I looked over and  saw Ambassador Scott DeLisi and his wife, Leija, slide into two seats.  I was very surprised since only days before Scott was still in Uganda  in his final days as our Ambassador to that nation before taking retirement from a long and distinguished career in our foreign service, serving as our Ambassador to Eritrea, Nepal and Uganda along with prior posts around the globe.  We have had a mutual admiration– they for my painting and me for Scott’s admirable work abroad and for Leija’s wonderful candor– for some time but had never been able to cross paths–I don’t get to Kampala on a regular basis.  So to finally meet them in person  was just great and I felt like I had known them for many, many years.

I am looking forward to seeing Scott’s new role in retirement as he will continue working in the private sector for efforts to improve the lives of people around the world.  All the best to you, Ambassador DeLisi.  Many thanks to Leija and you  for taking the time to stop in on Sunday.

There are a lot more moments and stories to tell from that day as well as my workshop experience of a few days earlier but I am going to wrap this up.  It was  a great week, one that had way more validation than any one more person should get in that time frame.  I am going to let it all soak in for a while then get back to work, refreshed by the kindness of others.

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Rwenzori Founders, UgandaWhen a couple of my paintings headed off to Uganda with Ambassador Scott DeLisi to hang at the US Embassy in Kampala, I began to follow the news that the Ambassador would forward from that African nation.  The stories he posts portray a country that is moving forward with an optimistic attitude.  There are stories of young entrepreneurs, scholars and artists that give reason for this attitude.  A recent post spoke of  the Rwenzori Art Centre Sculpture Gallery, nestled in the foothills of the  Rwenzori Mountains, the fabled Mountains of the Moon in northern Uganda.

The rural Rwenzori Art Centre is home to Rwenzori Founders, a world -class foundry that casts bronzes,  which opened several years ago.  The whole project was supported by the UK charity, the Rwenzori Sculpture Foundation, which is the brainchild of the owner of Pangolin Editions, the largest artist foundry in Europe which was started by a Ugandan, Rungwe Kingdom.  The facility’s design has won awards for its environmental sensitivity.

As fascinating as this all is, it is the story of one of the artists there,  Peter Oloya , that really interests me.  He hails from northern Uganda, an area that has been ravaged in the past by rebel armies.  At the age of 11, Peter was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced into action as a child soldier.  It was kill or be killed.  After a year and eight months, Peter escaped after being wounded during a battle.

Peter Oloya - HeadHe made his way to Kampala and lived on the streets, earning money by using his talent at carving curios  to pay for his school and university fees where he pursued an education in art and sculpture.  His work served him as a form of therapy to move past the horrors he had witnessed  and soon his obvious talent garnered much notice.  He has won  numerous commissions for his sculptures in recent years, such as Crane (shown at the bottom of this post) which was given to Queen Elizabeth as a gift from the Ugandan people, and his work is in great demand.  Wanting to share his good fortune, he has set up a charity to help other boy soldiers and abducted girls to heal themselves through drawing and sculpture.

It’s a great story of the redemptive and healing power of art.  It is also evidence that the urge to create will always overcome obstacles of all sorts.  Too many of us, myself included, all too often find excuses for not doing something.  I don’t have the right tools. I don’t have enough time or the time is just not right.  I am too distracted by other things.  Excuses of all sorts.  But Peter used whatever he had at hand to release what was trapped within him to make way for better things.

The next time I start whining about anything, all I have to do is think of Peter Oloya and I will shut up and be grateful for the safety and security of my own life.

Peter Oloya-Crowned Crane

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9GC Myers- Coming to an Understanding

A couple of years ago, back in April of 2010, I wrote here about one of my paintings being selected by the then Ambassador to Nepal,  Scott DeLisi,  for display in his offices at the American Embassy in Kathmandu.  And earlier this year, I wrote again about that painting being part of a intercultural exhibition and gala featuring the art of a number of Nepalese artists and the eight American artists whose work hung at the embassy.  Being chosen by Ambassador DeLisi was a great honor for me, particularly since  there aren’t a lot of chances for an artist to represent their country in any meaningful way.  I almost felt like an Olympian, even if only in a very small way.

Ambassador DeLisi   however had his assignment altered and left that position earlier this year, which meant that the painting in Kathmandu was returned to the gallery.  My Olympic dream seemed to be at an end.

However, Mr. DeLisi was nominated by President Obama to be Ambassador to the African nation of Uganda and was confirmed by the Congress in May.  Yesterday, I was notified by the Principle Gallery that the Ambassador had requested three of my paintings for display at the Embassy in Kampala.

I feel Olympian once again!  I was especially thrilled that it was going to Uganda after having watched the young Ugandan boys who came to Williamsport, PA  in the past few weeks as the first African team to play in the Little League World Series.  It was a great story as the other teams and the crowds there seemed to truly embrace these kids.  Remarkably, they won a game even though most of the kids had only been playing  baseball  (or even known about baseball, for that matter) for about six months.

But I was mostly thrilled at the prospect of my work once again being representative of our country and honored that  Ambassador DeLisi had once again found something in it that enabled his decision.  I hope these paintings serves him well in Uganda.

The pieces chosen are shown above and below.

GC Myers- Pot Luck

GC Myers- Sovereign Solitude

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