The Cottage Grove Art Walk is regularly a place of fascinating art and amazing artists, and the October Art Walk was no different.
From October 28 to 30, The Living Art was on display at the Opal Center on Main St. It featured local artists and musicians Tumelo Michael Moloi, Joshua Caraco, John Mambira, Ratie Dangarembwa-Morgan and John Page and the show was created by MoloÃ¯ .
The interior of the Opal Center was adorned with paintings of Moloi for guests to enjoy while they listened to traditional African music and watched the South African-style Gumboot dance, a Moloi experience aptly titled ” Living art â, an immersion in a multitude of artistic expressions.
The music was created by incorporating the Gumboot dance itself, which involves rhythmically stomping on rubber boots or rain boots, and a combination of instruments like the mbira, bongos and Zimbabwe djembe and the kora d ‘West Africa, as well as a violin.
âIt’s hard to say what genre the music belongs to because it’s music in its own right,â Moloi said.
The dance itself is deeply rooted in South African history. It originated in the days of the migrant labor system and oppressive apartheid pass laws. In the gold mines where they worked, the men used the trampling of their boots to communicate because they were forbidden to communicate with each other to “maintain order” as the working conditions were so bad. Each miner however had their own unique cultural connections and added them to the rhythms and it became an artistic expression and dance.
It even became a kind of protest when the mine bosses forced the miners to play. These bosses were no more savvy as the performance of the miners communicated complaints about poor mine conditions and even made fun of the bosses right in front of them.
In a more modern context, the dance can be found in many places in South Africa and helps communicate the history of the mines and the suffering under the apartheid regime. And, of course, the performances can also be found all over the world wherever there is someone who knows about dancing.
Moloi himself learned to dance at a very young age and has loved it ever since. âIn dancing, I felt peace,â he said, âeverything just disappeared on stage.â¦ It was Zen. I could just go for days.
Paintings are a more recent art for Moloi, but they are no less significant. When he worked at Cirque du Soleil in the mid-2000s until 2016, he became interested in sets and props and the art of creating them. When he got injured in Las Vegas, he found himself off the show for a year, bored and desperate to find something to do.
He found solace in a variety of things from jewelry making to woodcarving and even managed to make art for the business and his boss bought pieces for shows. Years later, Moloi still has some of the earliest pieces he made.
With painting he started on canvas a bit later, and started using colors and experimenting with how colors can go together. At first he was nervous about putting on too much color, but as he got more comfortable he became more expressive.
“Am I still nervous?” Yes. When you put on a color and you just say ‘oh, that doesn’t work’ and you go ‘ugh’ and go, âhe said. âAnd then you could come back and see it a different way. So I was pretty excited to put more colors on it and make it brighter.
Planning for the event was also aided by BJ Jones, who runs the Cottage Grove nonprofit Music Money, Michele Rose and Peter Dumbleton at the Opal Center for Arts and Education, Steven Williams and Jacqueline Moloi. Jones also thanked the volunteer sound and light technician for the event, Lance Troxel, member of the Opal Center board of directors.
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