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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 36, Page One of Three


Page One:
Djibril N'Doye Makes History
Adriano Colangelo Exhibits at Chakras

Page Two:
Abby Levine: Analyzing Freud
Manu Pagola's "Magic Eye" Pyrography
Sue Walters: "Pyrography Workbook"
Chuck Cordero's Peruvian Gourd
Salvatore Polistena's Studio Exhibit

Page Three:
Peni Powell Discovers a "Gibson Girl" Burning on Velvet
Maricha Oxley Exhibits near Sydney
Haroldo Ayres Announces New On-Line Group
Update on Cate McCauley
Kathy Jones: Uncommon Wedding Ceremonies
1862 Ball Hughes Wood Panel of Gen. McClellan Auctioned

Djibril N'Doye Makes History

Mango Market
by Djibril N'Doye

Pyrography and color on wood panel

Image courtesy of the artist and
the Sausalito Art Festival's Virtual Gallery

Update on the Artist

Senegalese artist Djibril N'Doye has been residing with his wife Mary in California for some years now working as an artist. His specialties are drawing, pen&ink, and pyrography.

Since Djibril was introduced here in Pyrograffiti 26 back in November 2003 he has participated in some interesting projects and won quite a few awards, including Best of Category" (drawing) at the La Quinta Art Festival held in March in the desert art and resort oasis of La Quinta, California. Following his "Best of Show" award in this year's 12-day Pan African Film and Arts Festival, Djibril will be the featured artist in February 2006 for this event, which is held each year in Los Angeles, California.

Among other things he has been doing lately, Djibril decided to experiment with color--his piece Mango Market (above) was the serendipitous result.

His Work Discovered by Ella Avery-Smothers

Prominent Los Angeles businesswoman Ella Avery-Smothers began collecting art once she and her husband successfully established their first franchise. She enjoyed going yearly to the Pan African Film and Arts Festival to find art that would bring her closer to her African heritage.

On one visit to the festival, she was thrilled to find Djibril's art exhibit. She says she was hoping to find something really special that year, and was even more delighted to learn that Djibril was from Senegal--she and her husband had coincidentally already booked a trip there!

Not only was their trip more enjoyable because they had a Senegalese tour guide--Djibril's personal friend--to show them around, but they were also able to meet Djibril's family and experience first hand the lifestyle that Djibril portrays with such flowing beauty and rhythm in his pyrographic works.

Djibril N'Doye
On Site in Virginia

in November 2004
Planning His Special Project

Image courtesy of the artist

Djibril N'Doye and Ella Avery-Smothers, November 2004
On Site at St. Paul's Chapel School, Meredithville, Virginia

Image courtesy of the artist
© 2005 Ella Avery-Smothers

A Project Dear to Ella's Heart

Since she first started collecting art, Ella has done many things--like expanding her business to eight successful franchises, guest speaking on television, carrying an Olympic torch through Los Angeles, and since her first meeting with Djibril, regularly adding to her collection of Djibril's art works.

Although Ella has spent many years in Los Angeles, she grew up on the east coast of the United States in rural southern Virginia, where as a young girl she attended a one-room schoolhouse. That schoolhouse still stands on property that belonged to her family and now belongs to her. Realizing the deep significance that little school held both for her personally and as a landmark in history, Ella decided to renovate the little structure and preserve it as a museum.

To launch her project, generate funds for it, and record the little schoolhouse for posterity, Ella commissioned Djibril to do an architectural rendering in pyrography and asked him to visit the site in person, which he did during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in November 2004 to do his preliminary sketches.

Ella Avery-Smothers and Djibril N'Doye posing with the newly completed rendering
at the unveiling and signing ceremony, February 2005

Pyrography on wood panel

Image courtesy of the artist
© 2005 Ella Avery-Smothers

History of St. Paul's Chapel School

The following, from the Virginia Historical Society, is a compelling testament to a pivotal piece of American history:

"St. Paul's Chapel School in Brunswick County, Virginia, was established by Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald during the Tuskegee Regime's 1916 Budget in Grandy, Virginia. It is the only one-room school of the thirteen Rosenwald schools constructed in that county.

Julius Rosenwald, an early partner in Sears, Roebuck & Company, and later its president, met with Booker T. Washington in May 1911, and soon afterwards, agreed to assist in the financing of one-room schoolhouses for children of former slaves. A total of 206 of these schools were funded and St. Paul's was one of them.

Later, in 1917, the Rosenwald Fund was established to improve the education of Southern blacks by building more schools. Rosenwald specified the size and height of rooms, the placement of desks and blackboards, and even the paint colors. Large banks of windows characterize the so-called Rosenwald schools, of which 5,357 were built in the South by the time of his death in 1932.

Rosenwald's personal financial contribution was matched by state and local government funds, from other foundations, and from the local Negro community itself."

The Unveiling in California

On the 5th of February 2005, Djibril signed his completed work of Saint Paul's Chapel School for Ella. Attending the intimate unveiling ceremony in Los Angeles, California were their families and friends, as well as members of the press.

St. Paul's Chapel School, interior
August 6, 2005
Friends, guests, and former students and their families
enjoying conversation and games,
surrounded by Djibril N'Doye's art works on exhibit

Image courtesy of the artist
© 2005 Ella Avery-Smothers

In Virginia--a Class Reunion and a Gallery Exhibit, Too

On the weekend of the 6th and 7th of August 2005, the little schoolhouse and soon-to-be museum in Meredithville, Virginia, was opened to the public with much festivity and a summer cookout. That weekend the schoolhouse served as an art gallery of Djibril's works for all the approximately 200 visitors to see and enjoy.

For Ella, that weekend was a community event and a class reunion full of memories. In an interview, she remarked that they had different teachers during those years, and while some people thought they would lose continuity in their studies by changing teachers, Ella felt that with each new teacher the children learned new things of value. Djibril feels that while so many historical accounts dwell on the negative aspects, the trials and tribulations of people, it is comforting that this little schoolhouse serves as a positive and an inspiring part of African-American history.

St. Paul's Chapel School
by Djibril N'Doye

Pyrography on wood panel, 2004 to 2005

Image courtesy of the artist
© 2005 Ella Avery-Smothers

"Djibril's West African upbringing, his strength of character, and immense talent as an artist made him the perfect person to complete this project with the emotion, care, and sensitivity it deserves. His detailed rendering of the site depicts the building as it stands today surrounded by beautifully wise old trees and open spaces, which, to Djibril, represent the bright future of this place, that is now finally assured because of Ella's dedication and diligence."

Post Script

On Thanksgiving Day 2005, with my daughter Juliet, I had the immense pleasure of meeting Ella Avery-Smothers and her family at her home near Leesburg, Virginia. On display in a very large room downstairs was her entire collection of Djibril's art works, including many original panels and a large number of his exquisite prints, with the single exception of the wood panel of the schoolhouse, which proudly resides in her handsome office on the main level. I have so enjoyed seeing art work in digital images on the internet, but, I have to say, it gave me goosebumps to see Djibril's works in person and up close. I have to confess to even touching a couple of them to experience the texture.


The Djibril N'Doye web site www.djibrilndoye.com.

Recommended reading that was Djibril's inspiration for this project: Up From Slavery--the autobiography of the son of a slave woman, Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), who was one of America's great educators and the founder of the Tuskegee Institute of Alabama. The book was originally published about 1900 and is still available today.

The Djibril N'Doye Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

The November-December 2003 article--Djibril N'Doye: Reflecting on Traditions of Senegal--Pyrograffiti 26, WOM.

The Sausalito Art Festival's Virtual Gallery features recent works by Djibril, including works with color.

Adriano Colangelo Exhibits at Chakras in Brazil

Deva do Outono (Autumn Angel)
by Adriano Colangelo

Pyrography and color on heavy artist's paper

Image courtesy of the artist

Once more, the indefatigable Adriano Colangelo participated in a solo show this year. Knowing that he is passionate about using Hindu angels (called devas) in his works to represent the wonders and beauty of nature, I thought it was particularly apropos that Chakras would be the venue for his show.

Art & Gastronomy

As soon as I saw the name of the venue--Chakras--where Adriano Colangelo's latest exhibit was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil last June, I knew it would be special. I wasn't disappointed.

The beautifully decorated restaurant is named from yoga philosophy for the seven centers of spiritual energy in the human body; the concept of chakras (pronounced CHUCK-ruhs) has also been incorporated in some related eastern cultures as well as in some segments of the New Age movement.

You may be interested to know that Chakra 3 is the one associated with the element of fire. Its color is depicted as yellow, and its primary functions are mental functioning, power, control, freedom to be oneself, and career.

The exotic Chakras restaurant is described on their web page (in Portuguese) as "A vanguard venue where contemporary haute cuisine is mixed with various cultural activities: from music to exhibits of the plastic arts, lectures, cinema, and theater. Inviting and welcoming, Chakras offers a multisensory experience thanks to its sophistication of detail, the beauty of its colors, and harmony of forms. It is a true Temple of the senses."

A film taken on the occasion of the opening of Adriano's exhibit gives testimony to all of the above (except the haute cuisine, of course--too bad). Chakras looked in every way the perfect place to display art and enjoy a wonderful evening out.

Seeing the film brought home the significance of presenting art work in an ambience that resonates with the work itself and the viewing public.

After showing the façade, the film opened in the bar at the entrance showing all the highlights of the exotic Hindu décor and architectural detailing, such as fountains and an interior balcony, which overlooks the bar from one of the restaurant's various private rooms above. It proceeded to the place of the exhibit and showed a vignette of Adriano and his wife Agnes--what a gracious couple!--and showed the exhibit itself on display followed by close-up shots of the individual pieces, then the guests arriving at the cocktail reception, viewing the exhibit, greeting the artist, and talking in groups, etc.

After doing an in-depth interview in Portuguese, the multilingual Adriano spoke three messages to people who could not be there--mine was delivered in perfect Spanish, two others in Italian. The film ended, most appropriately, once more viewing the art work.

Deva do Fogo (Angel of Fire)
by Adriano Colangelo

Pyrography and color on heavy artist's paper

Image courtesy of the artist


Adriano Colangelo's own website at www.adrianocolangelo.com.br.

Adriano Colangelo Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

The May-June 2004 article--Adriano Colangelo: Applied Art--Pyrograffiti 29, WOM.

The July-August 2002 article--Adriano Colangelo: Fantasy Themes--Pyrograffiti 18, WOM.

The exotic Chakras restaurant, a vanguard venue mixing contemporary haute cuisine and cultural activities at www.chakras.co m.br/brasil/index_brasil.htm

Click here to go to page two

2005, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.