Last Thursday, the 18th, Alliance Française in Nairobi held an opening for the exhibition of works included in the Kenya Arts Diary 2019. I went to the opening and stayed for about an hour, meeting some friends I had not seen for a while, and introducing myself to a number of people I had only heard of but never met.
Among the folks I saw there were Nani Croze and her husband, Donna Pido and Margaretta wa Gacheru. Nani originated the Kenya Arts Diary about ten years ago. A glass artist herself, Nani's work can be found all over Nairobi and especially out Kitengela way where is her factory. Hers are the glass sculptures in the lobby of Alliance Française. Last time I saw Nani was several years ago when I was amongst the judges for a selection of outdoor art for Village Market in Gigiri.
Donna Pido and I go back a LONG way! I first knew of Donna when I attended a symposium on African art at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in about 1977. She gave a presentation there about Masai beadwork, and how it is so distinctive that one Masai knows another by the arrangement of colors amongst the beads. A Masai will always know those from another tribe because they get the beads in the wrong places! Married even then to a Masai, Donna, originally from New York, was here several years later when I arrived in Kenya. Since then, we've both been members of the Kenya Quilt Guild. Donna serves on the committee that selects art for the Kenya Arts Diary. She has for some time been lobbying in favor of accepting quilts, but this year, other selectors concurred--thank goodness they did!
I finally met Margaretta wa Gacheru, someone whose name has popped up from time to time but entirely without much relevance to me. I believe (but may yet have it wrong) that she is the Chairwoman of the Kenya Arts Diary Selection Committee. A delightful, charming lady with fantastic social skills, Margaretta introduced me to a few other people shortly after I arrived, and then left me to enjoy the evening.
One of the people I met who impressed me was Nadia Kisseleva. I also enjoyed meeting Joy Maringa, Coster Ojwang, and Ritesh Barot, who provided me with all the GOOD photos in my slideshow here. Pardon me for name-dropping, but I think that's why we do these things--so that people of like mind, like spirit, can come together and get to know each other.
Next comes the launch of the Kenya Arts Diary on the 2nd of November at the Heinrich Boell Stiftung in Nairobi. I'll be there for that, and I'll let you know how it goes!