Some time ago Marlon and I came across the top piece of a desk laying discarded on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s stoop, ready to be picked up with the broken lamp at its side the next time the trash men came around. It was splattered with paint and indeed, Marlon identified it: “Dilip’s painting desk! You should take it!” (For as much as I love the Internet and making big to-dos of my “artistic” “endeavors,” the fact that I like to try my hand at painting every now and then seems to have gone strangely undocumented. But I do! With… varying levels of success, of course.)
I wasn’t sure if he was serious, and made the accurate point that, in any case, I didn’t have anywhere to put it. “I don’t know, Ang… Dilip’s a famous painter! [Still wasn’t sure if he was being serious.] What if he makes it big one day and you can say you’re using his old desk? There’s lots of space in our house. What if I just stored it for you?” I went along with it, and to this day it’s sitting nestled against a window in a largely unused room in his house.
In the midst of last Saturday’s snow-turning-to-sleet at the witching hour, on our way back from a leisurely lunch at nearby Impala, we decided to pop in at Dilip’s Art Show, which Mar had been talking up for a few weeks. I was certainly excited to see the type of work the former owner of my pilfered desk churned out. The weather (and our late arrival) meant that other Art Show attendees were scarce, which meant we got some good face time with Dilip himself (and all the Crunkcakes we cared to have! Dilip owns the bottom level of another of the row houses on his and Marlon’s street, which functions both as guesthouse and gallery. His current tenant is none other than the founder of the boozy cupcake brand. Also let it be known that we weren’t looking to embarrass ourselves at a wholesome neighborhood art show and we only had one-and-a-half Crunkcakes each).
Dilip Sheth’s pieces were on display with those of a fellow Ethiopian artist, Abeba Wossen; and Ephrem Kouakou who, hailing from the Ivory Coast, is known as the “African Picasso” (according to Dilip). While Ms. Wossen’s works were under-stated and lovely, Dilip’s and Mr. Kouakou’s were the true attention-grabbers.
It was the eyes that commanded such attention in Kouakou’s paintings. In Dilip’s, it was the clouds and the trees. “I love those red trees!” I told him. “Ah, that’s my signature.” he replied. I asked what kind they were, wondering if they were some tie to home at a preferred time of year. “Just from my mind,” he explained.
Another that I thought was really fantastic was a portrait he’d done of his mother. He showed us the photo that had served as its inspiration, in black-and-white, of course, and shared that he’d only learned after the fact that he’d correctly painted her dress blue (OR POSSIBLY WHITE, IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS); that the items surrounding her were all from his imagination. The ladies in the below photo seem to agree, and I feel comfortable sharing this (all images shared without any sort of permission from the artists, but they all link back to their sources so please do check everything out) because it’s the photo for the rain date of last week’s event on the “Art of Dilip Sheth” facebook page. You can also see some of Wossen’s and Kouakou’s paintings.
Oh, and imagine our surprise (and how cool we felt) strolling into Sidamo, the Ethiopian coffee shop on H Street the next day and noticing those recognizable clouds. “Well have they got Sheth on display here!?!!?” we mused to ourselves. Well yes, yes they did.
And in case you missed them in any of the embedded links: