Wednesday evening June 26, 2013, Jeffrey J. Hawkins, Jr. U.S. Consul General in Nigeria hosted Mimi Wolford, Founder/Curator of the MBARI Institute for Contemporary African Art in Washington, DC, USA, at his Ikoyi Crescent residence to fête the young artists from her recent art workshop in Lagos.
A presentation of a portrait of the U.S. Ambassador by one of the artists.
My former tutor, the famous Nigerian artist and print maker Prof. Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya recalled how the parents of Mimi Wolford supported several young Nigerian artists and writers in the early 1960s, including the late Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi and also attracted Demas Nwoko, David Dale and himself who was a young art teacher at the St. Gregory's College in Lagos.
Mimi dancing with some of the artists and invited guests.
"The parents of Mimi, Jean Kennedy and her husband Dick Wolford who worked for USAID, were themselves artists and friends to Ulli Beier. They turned their sitting room in McEwen Road, Ikoyi to an art gallery where they marketed products of the Osogbo artists. We called the gallery the ‘Thursday Show' because it took place once a week for only two hours every Thursday," recalled Prof. Onobrakpeya and noted that they also played a prominent role in the Mbari Mbayo Club founded in Ibadan in 1961 by a group of young writers discovered by the late Ulli Beier, a teacher at the University of Ibadan. He mentioned how such art workshops like his own Harmattan Worshop at Agbarha-Otor, Delta State has nurtured the talents of many artists, including the accomplished Peju Layiwola who was at the exhibition of the works of young artists at Mimi Wolford's workshop in Lagos.
“Nigeria in the ‘60s was a place where everything was possible, Nigeria today is home of the largest and most prolific group of artists in Africa.”
~ Mimi Wolford.
Others at the event included prominent Artist Nike Davies-Okundaye of Nike Art Centers, Luciano Uzuegbu, the Curator of Omenka Art Gallery and Senior Programme Officer of the Ben Enwonwu Foundation in Ikoyi, Hope Obioma Opara, President of Eko International Film Festival and Publisher of Supple magazine, Nigerian filmmaker Chike Ibekwe and his wife Mrs. Peju Ibekwe, Shaibu Husseini from The Guardian of Nigeria and Africa Movie Academy Awards, Benny Uche of the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy, Ejiro Onobrakpeya and Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, Founder of Eko International Film Festival and Founder/CEO of Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema (SOOAC).
~ By Orikinla Osinachi
Photographs by Ayo Durodola.