Art on the Deuces



ST. PETERSBURG – The Deuces has evolved into an art haven due in part to businesswoman and gallerist, Carla Bristol, who opened Gallerie 909 almost a year ago.

Last weekend Gallerie 909 did not disappoint with Chicago artist Fanta Celah. Bristol met Celah in New York at the Harlem Fine Arts Show where she invited her to visit her gallery.

She had a fantastic showing at the gallery. She did well and the gallery did well,” said Bristol.

Painter, jewelry designer and singer, Celah displayed her creations Friday and Saturday. This multi-talented artist has travelled the globe and found inspiration and purpose along the way.

Celah has been living in Chicago since 1999 and calls it home. She considers herself to be a painter first, then a jewelry designer and singer. She displayed a range of paintings from landscapes, portraiture and three-dimensional paintings that are made from recycled objects.

“Some of the notable people are Tupac, Michael Jackson then we have some Ethiopian landscapes,” she said. Celah has travelled across the world and so she has thousands of photographs and has painted a series of landscapes from photographs that she took when driving through the mountains in Ethiopia.

She’s has also visited to Dubai, India, Ghana, London, Senegal and Egypt and pulls inspiration from wherever she visits. In November of 2011, she was featured on the Box Africa television channel and the Frameless Gallery in London, whose mission is to promote and support the very best emerging and established contemporary artists with cutting-edge projects. She’s going back in September for an exhibition.

For over 13 years, Celah has been making a good living in the art world. She said she has been free for over 13 years and although she has been offered jobs, she couldn’t even fathom getting back “into a box.”

Being a Reiki healer, the healing properties of crystals and metals are present in her jewelry. She also uses semi-precious stones such amethyst, turquoise and Lapis lazuli.

A combination of experiences led her into the craft of jewelry making. In 2000, some friends of hers piqued her interest with crystal healing, and along the way she started taking a lapidary class (a class that instructs students on how to form stones, minerals or gemstones into decorative items).

As a child she knew she was a painter. She was raised in a small town where the arts program had not been cut like in larger school districts. There she was able to take phenomenal college-level art and music courses. At the age of 16 she actual sold her first painting.

“By the time I got to college I had already mastered Realism so I went straight to abstract. So I was somewhat of a rebel in college,” Celah admitted.

She had such an extraordinary weekend on the Deuces. “They gallery gave me such a warm welcome,” she said. “And the ladies loved my jewelry so much that I almost sold out of everything. They also thoroughly enjoyed my three-dimensional abstract art at that I was exhibiting, which is a part of my Nature vs. Technology collection.”

Celah also showcased her work at the Carter G. Woodson Museum on Sunday. If you missed out last weekend, don’t worry. Log on to her website at peruse her wares.

Journeying with Celah to St. Pete was art collector and dealer Diarra Diaby originally from Mali, West Africa. He has been collecting African and African-American art for more than two decades. Art dealing is a family business learned from his uncle, who he used to travel with throughout Europe.

He primarily works with schools and museums, but also works with private collectors. His pieces are from different countries in Africa, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali and Ghana and African American historical art. In his unassuming white van he carried 18th century slave chains that were already sold to a museum.

Last weekend was his first time in St. Pete and he thoroughly enjoyed his stay. He said you know you’re going to do well when you meet good people.

Diaby’s specializes in museum quality wood, stone and bronze sculptures and textiles from the African continent. His personal collection consists of African-American paintings, sculptures, historic photographs and Jim Crow paraphernalia.

He preserves black history for future generations. Diaby works hand-in-hand with African-American museums, galleries and interior design studios across the nation, providing historical luxury items that are in high demand. He also curates museum exhibitions, and is familiar with the tribal origin of the artifacts.

Diaby said it took the African people a long time to come back together and it makes him want to collect. He feels that African Americans are merely Africans living in America. “The language have changed and the family structure has change, but other than that we are the same,” he averred.

You can reach Diaby at (773) 301-6279 if you are interested in owning a piece of history.

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