Much of the artwork you see here in Jinja is “street art” meant to be sold to tourists as a souvenir. It’s quality is quite poor, and much of it seems to be mass produced in hack-shops by only moderately talented copy-artists. If you know where to look, you can even see these production shops set just behind the street shops where the art is displayed, with groups of paint-daubed laborers working to reproduce “tourist art” en masse.

However, as I was prowling around the gift shops, looking for little gifts for the family several trips back, I stumbled into an artist’s room “hidden” behind a souvenir shop. By “hidden” I mean it was open to the public, but not marked or advertised in any way. Suddenly you step through the door, and you’re in the artist’s world, his colorful renderings covering every square inch of the walls and racks.

These paintings have the quality of real art, the touch of an artist’s hand and eye. The artist is named Davis. Africa speaks from his canvases, and I confess, I was dumbstruck at first. I asked the young lady who manages the shop, who, it turned out, was the artist’s sister, why these wonderful paintings are hidden back here where no one can see them. Why aren’t they out on the street where the tourists can see their quality and buy them? She said that if they put them out on the street, the other shops would copy them and steal their artistry. So, conundrum: if we put them out to sell them, the images will be stolen and counterfeited; so instead, we hide them back here where no one can see them and non one can buy them. I’m thinking only a real artist could even come up with that.

I felt a little like I had stumbled into pirate treasure, and it was mine, Mine, ALL MINE!!!! HAHAHAHA!!

Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but I like the pieces very much. If I were rich, I would buy many of them and decorate my home in these colorful cultural artworks. And the amazing thing is, they are priced Ugandan. So a musungu could really clean up. The highest piece in the shop might be 300,000 Ugandan shillings – that’s about $90.00.

So the only other thing I have to say, is, look at the pictures. See for yourself. If you’re interested, tell me by email or “comment,” and we can work out the payment and I will bring one of these canvases home for you. I am interested in supporting any Ugandan who is serious and trying hard to make a living here in this poor nation. Check it out… [The titles are mine for ide

Sunset

Sunset

ntification only.]

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Women around tree 1

The artist, Davis, shows off his work.

The artist, Davis, shows off his work.

smaller children

Children with Water

smaller trees

Mighty Baobab

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Travelers

Women in Sun

Women in Sun

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Pentecost

Crowd

Crowd

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Going to Market

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