Snowy Saturday Art Show

"countryside picnic"-dilip sheth

“countryside picnic”-dilip sheth

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).

"perfect love," one of abeba wossen's pieces at the show

“perfect love,” one of abeba wossen’s pieces at the show

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.

"twins" by ephrem kouakou-- mar's favorite (of EK's) from the show

“twins” by ephrem kouakou– mar’s favorite (of EK’s) from the show

the herd dilip sheth

“the herd”-dilip sheth

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.

dilip's mom

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:

Dilip Sheth on Facebook, ArtistWebsites, and Instagram.
Ephrem Kouakou on StilLifeGallery, Tumblr, and TrueAfricanArt.
Abeba Wossen on FineArtAmerica.

Cutting for Stone (and Somewhat Associated Things Like Marley and Chang and Eng)

cutting for stone cover

If you’ve been around me in the past 2 months (since that’s how long it takes me to read a novel these days, apparently) and the subjects of nuns/medicine/twins/
Ethiopia/India/Rastafarianism/Haile Selaisse happened to come up, chances are I couldn’t help but mention the very, very good book I finished last weekend: Cutting for StoneIt had come to me on recommendation from my parents and an aunt, and I’ll admit I didn’t know what to expect. While they all swore that it was definitely a book worth reading, other adjectives that speckled their reviews included ‘weird,’ ‘odd,’ and ‘dark.’ Not that any of those things are necessarily bad, especially when it comes to literature.

I’m still feeling out how I want to approach the sharing-of-books on my blog. I have no interest in supplying spoilers (where’s the fun in that?!) and I realize I’m in no way a qualified book reviewer, but suppose I could present a brief summary of the basic plot? And, however ridiculously, I’m including a catalog of my favorite quotes from the book at the end of the post. To be honest, this was a pretty gratifying part of the reading experience, for me. I’d make a small dog-ear at the bottom of the page where a memorable quote appeared, then when I finished I went back to all those pages and found the pertinent passages. It was a good way to really refresh and absorb some of the more interesting parts without having to re-read the entire story, though I’d say this is a book that certainly deserves a Second Read.

Dr. Marion Stone narrates our tale, which takes place predominantly at the Mission (or “Missing,” as it’s referred to for the entirety of the book on account of a mispronunciation on the part of the local people) Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The story follows the childhood of Marion and his brother, Shiva– [formerly]-conjoined twins, the almost-instantly-orphaned love children of a young Indian nun (who dies giving birth) and the English surgeon to whom she was a loyal and invaluable assistant (who flees upon delivery). (Their birth and the circumstances leading up to it– most of them, anyway– take up the first quarter of the book.)

Their orphancy is short-lived, as they become the cornerstone of what becomes a family unit between them and Hema and Ghosh: the remaining two surgeons at the hospital, also Indian immigrants. Abraham Verghese paints a vivid and intricate scene of 1960’s Addis Ababa– the blend and clash of the influences of various North African ethnicities, Indians, and Brits (and not without the residual Italian touches); the precarious politics of Emperor Haile Selaisse; the scents of the stews, the grime of the bars, and the warmth and comfort within their little homes. Perhaps even more vivid and intricate are Verghese’s periodical descriptions of a variety of medical procedures; which, though detailed, graphic, and at times grotesque, are fascinating above all. As any good story should, it’s got its fair share of love, heartache, betrayal, and forgiveness as the boys grow into men and demonstrate that they have very different things to offer to the medical world (and each other).

Lolzlolzlolz that ended up turning into a super cheesy review anyway but I’m over thinking about it so, voilà.

To make up for that I’ll take this time to make a quick plug for the 2012 Bob Marley documentary simply titled Marley. I won’t even make a lame attempt at a review, I’ll just tell you it’s awesome and (of course) chock-full of great music and you won’t be sorry you watched it.

What the hell does that have to do with Cutting for Stone?, you may be wondering. Emperor Haile Selaisse is the link… I have a bit of a fixation right now (as I mentioned in my People’s Key post, because Conor makes a number of Haile Selaisse references on that album as well). The Rastafarians believed he was their new Messiah and he was also revered by (most of) Ethiopia for awhile as well, but you see in the book that he has his share of skeletons. But his whole story has struck such a deep chord with me… I like, almost feel like I want to get a Lion of Judah tattoo or something. (I mean, not really…)

Oh and one last somewhat-associated thing that I promise is worth your time:

The story of Chang and Eng Bunker, the Thai conjoined twins whose condition (and circus appearances) inspired the name “Siamese Twins.”


Alright and finally… my preferred quotes from the book (as I said this was as much for my benefit as anyone’s haha): Continue reading