Make a plan to stop by August House Studio in Chicago’s north side this Friday, June 3, and partake in Dumela Contemporary African Art’s Annual Summer Show. The reception runs from 5:30-9pm tomorrow, and will feature original contemporary art from southern and east Africa in a range of media including acrylic, watercolor, pastel, textiles, oil and mixed media paintings.
The work is created by emerging African artists from Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa, and is handpicked by the partners behind Dumela – Leila Green and Nancy McDaniel. "Dumela" (a warm greeting of welcome in the Sesotho language of South Africa) began in 1998 as a way for Leila and Nancy to share their passion for east and southern Africa, its people and its art by personally acquiring work directly from artists, and bringing it back to Chicago where it is custom-framed and made available to the public through these annual shows.
Dumela specializes in contemporary art - some work is described as "naive" or done by untrained artists, while much of the work is done by formally trained artists. No matter what style, the artwork is always original and is purchased directly from the artists - from their homes and studios; and sometimes even from the trunk of a car! The majority of the artists are generally not well known in the artworld, but have become personal acquaintances of Leila and Nancy over the years.
Nancy shared some fond and fun memories with me about her travels, some of the artists, and the adventurous act of looking at and acquiring Dumela's artwork:
The first time we ever met Justin Gope (a young artist originally from Mozambique), he rode his bike for an hour or so to meet us at a friend's home in Harare, with his art rolled up and tied to the back of the bike. The next year he came to see us again - this time with big framed canvases tied down to the top of a tiny car.
Khumbulani Mpofu and Charles Nkomo are two young artists and friends from Bulawayo, ZImbabwe. The first time we met Charles, he came all the way on a bus from Bulawayo (maybe a 5 or 6 hour drive) with a huge tube of rolled up canvases. He is now one of our favorite and best selling artists, whose work has evolved and matured over the years. I also have met with Nkomo (and Mpofu) in my guest house in Johannesburg where he (like some of the other Zim artists) has been living and working some of the time to try to make more money. We have also spent time with Nkomo and Mpofu in their shared studio space at the National Gallery in Bulawayo.
Once we met Mpofu at the National Gallery in Harare. He arranged with the security guard to let us all into a basement storeroom where he spread out all his work and we purchased a lot of it (the Gallery won't let them sell their work in front of the front door so that's why he arranged for us to go to the basement).
One day Liz, Leila and I drove to a park area in Harare where we met with Peter Kwangware. He spread out his work on the roof and trunk of Liz's car and we bought it from him there. I have met with John Ndambo, Stephen Njenga, Robert Aswani and Martin Bulinya on the verandah of the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi where we drink Orange Fanta or tea and look at (and buy) art.
Four Zimbabwe artists (David Chinyama, Patrick Rapai, Fungai Junior, and Ruziwo) were renting a house in a Johannesburg suburb to use as their communal studio. I met them there and they had all their canvases hung on the fences and propped against the walls, right near an empty swimming pool with brightly colored bougainvillea everywhere. It was just wonderful (and I bought about 6 pieces that day).
March 2009: Nancy with artists Patrick Rapai, Ruziwo & David Chinyama at their shared studio in Johannesburg.
Stop by Friday’s opening reception, or anytime before the exhibition closes on June 26, and enjoy these bright, creative, contemporary works!
June 3 – 26 | Reception on Friday, June 3, 5:30-9pm
Dumela Contemporary African Art Annual Summer Show
August House Studio
2113 W. Roscoe, Chicago (60618)
Contact Nancy McDaniel at 773-477-2404 or by email or more info or to make a private appointment