South Africa has the most established art scene in Africa, so it was a real treat for me to be in Cape Town. The main spots I found were Woodstock (trendy “high” art galleries), central Cape Town around Long Street (somewhat more touristy), and Stellenbosch just outside the city (several museums, plenty of wineries-cum-galleries).
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I met with the artists for selfish reasons, because I wanted to, because it was amazing to meet these creative people and see their work. Still, I used the opportunity to set up contacts for the JAC and ask the artists if they could help us out on our upcoming projects. Many of them said they would be happy to come work with the kids for a session – to teach them about art, and for the kids to see what it is like to be a professional artist. When we have an auction with the children’s work, it will help to be able to say that, say, Larry Otoo was involved.
It was these artists and institutions that gave me hope about the art world in Ghana. The art I saw was so vibrant and beautiful, so clearly full of talent, that it made me wonder why we don’t have more contemporary Ghanaian and African art in our museums and institutions. We have plenty of old carvings and artifacts, but where are the Larry Otoos and Kofi Setordji’s inside the MOMA or Metropolitan walls? Not to mention the African museum walls?
The artists I met with told me I have to advocate them when I go home, not realizing that just because I am American does not mean I have any real influence. I will do what I can to spread awareness of Ghanaian art in my small world, and maybe it will reach some big ears. I can hope.
I just read Holland Cotter’s review of the African Art Museum of the SMA Fathers in New Jersey, which is one of only three African museums in the country. Cotter is exuberant about the wooden carvings and masks, but rightfully points out that there is more to African art than this, even though it’s what we usually see in museums — there is also metalwork, and guess what, gold-weights too!
I could not help from shaking my head as I read the words. Where are the Ablade Glovers, the Wiz Kudowors? What about all the contemporary art and painting in Africa, where’s that? I plan on writing to the SFA to see what they think of my buddies over in Ghana.