Monday, May 7, 2012

Zebras in Red High Heels Doesn't Strike one as being Pro-Conservation. But hey, I'm flat-footed

One of my favorite pieces in this whole show is on your right: the naying zebra by Joseph Bertiers Mbatia, made out of scrap metal. and just to the right of dominique is a lovely painting by kathy katuti.
The issue of what constitutes an environmental artist is a controversial and much debated one.
I have friends who thought the show was aimed at saving the zebra, but that is too obvious. it's meant to be all for the planting of trees. okay, right!

Artists make heads turn with unique works on conservation

Safaricom's CEO Bob Collymore with eco-artist Dominque Thoemes during her group exhibition at the Michael Joseph Centre.
Safaricom's CEO Bob Collymore with eco-artist Dominque Thoemes during her group exhibition at the Michael Joseph Centre.  
Posted  Thursday, May 3  2012 at  16:12

It’s an odd concept. One Dominque Thoemes, an eco-artist with her own brand of humour, is behind the quirky notion of “Zebra in Red Heels?"
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Inconceivable as the concept may sound, the woman who’s as much an artist as she is an art dealer and entrepreneur, managed to sell it to Safaricom who is sponsoring her group exhibition, which opened on April 18, at the Michael Joseph Centre.
The selling point for Thoemes was mainly the ecological aspect of the show.
Billing herself as an environmental artist who paints for a worthy cause, fighting deforestation in Africa, she lays no claim to the legacy of the late Nobel laureate Professor Wangari Maathai.
The fact that she doesn’t acknowledge Wangari’s work is a bit odd, more so as she’s lived in Kenya off and on since she was three years old.
Leaving that anomaly aside, Thoemes’ cause is a worthy one. I just have to wonder what zebras wearing red high heels in the middle of the savannah have to do with planting trees.
High heels
She says her chief source of inspiration is Dr Seuss, a children’s book author, and her own poetry, which was inspired by the author.
Thoemes has successfully taken her zebra in sparkly ‘Wizard of Oz’ like red high heels show all over the world, in the last six years. She has exhibited all over Africa and Europe.
I might be the only one who finds the showcasing of wildlife wearing heels at odds with conservation. Nonetheless, one has to hand it to her for combining her skill as an entrepreneur and an art dealer with her environmental appreciation.
“Previously, for every artwork I sold, I promised to plant five trees,” said Thoemes at the exhibition opening.
“Safaricom has enabled us to take our project to a whole new level when they agreed that for every piece we sold they would plant 100 trees, not just five. This is fantastic.”
One of the best things about the exhibition is that Thoemes has included a number of outstanding Kenyan artists and a few longstanding resident artists in the show, all of whom use recycled materials to create their art.
The artists include: Joseph ‘Bertiers’ Mbatia, Kathy Katuti, Dennis Muraguri, Andrew McNaughton and Nani Croze.
Ironically, Thoemes herself doesn’t use recycled materials in her various zebra paintings. They are alloil on canvas. Where she redeems herself is again as an entrepreneur whose brand name is Belle Matata, which specialises in combining art, fashion and the environment.
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