The seeds for Pax Gallery were sown about ten years ago when I visited my brother in Congo. But if we really want to go back to where it all starts, the seeds for me were also sown in Congo. I was conceived in a grass hut on the banks of the Kwilu River under the burning equatorial sun. Actually, I just made up those details and I don’t plan on asking my parents for clarification, but the overarching facts are true; I was born in Congo. That should answer, at least in part, the question, “Why did you start an art gallery with Congolese art?” The ultimate answer to that question is, “Because it’s amazing art.” But I would have never seen the art if I hadn’t returned to visit the place of my birth.
I was born in Vanga, Congo in a cinder block hospital on the banks of the Wamba Wiver under the burning equatorial sun. And that’s a true statement. My first near-death experience occurred moments later when the hospital staff saw that I was blue and not breathing. (I don’t recall the event but my father tells me it was quite traumatic.) The doctor, Dan Fountain, rigged together some tubes he scavenged from around the hospital and built an impromptu rig for tracheal intubation. In case you’re wondering, I lived. Thanks Dan.
On the trip to see my brother I visited the hospital and swam in the Wamba River. In fact, my son and I nearly drowned in the Wamba River before being rescued by family and friends. Near-death experience in Vanga #2. But that’s a story for another time. I’d like to return to Vanga again, but I hope to avoid a near-death experience in Vanga hat trick.
All the things you’ve read so far in this blog post are really just distractions keeping me from my initial objective of writing; showing you my first home. After a bit of recovery time in Vanga, my parents brought me home to Kikwit, Congo. We lived in the upstairs apartment of the building in the photo. I’d love to show you more photos of my first home, but in Congo photography is a crime. No joke. To get this picture we drove slowly past the building while our interpreter held the camera just above the door and snapped a shot. He suggested that it would be wise to have a Congolese person take the picture because the consequences for a white person getting caught taking a photo would be more severe. I didn’t seek additional details.
There you have it; my first home.