When you hear the phrase ‘Nepali Art’, signboards are probably the last thing you think of. My mission is to change that.
Signboard art in Nepal is fast disappearing - the artists are endangered, losing their livelihoods. Their traditional trade is being replaced by printed, computer-generated signage. The painting above is by Sanjib Rana.
My Fair Trade Art project is to promote this charming folk art from Nepal by making their artwork available to the world via ‘Beware of Dog’ signs. America’s love for their pets appears to be the perfect way to introduce the world to Nepali signboard art. And, of course, the wording soon morphed from ‘Beware’ to ‘Zen Dog,’ Enlightened Dog,’ and ‘Happy Dog.’ American Dogs = Nepali Jobs! The painting of Lula the Tonkinese Cat above is by Sufraj Khadka. (The blue 'dress' is actually the owner's socks.)
“Danger Dogs from Nepal – Folk Art from the Himalayas” was started in 2007. I had noticed that the lovely and quirky ‘Be Aware of the Dog’ signs that I had photographed over the years in Nepal were being replaced by generic boring stenciled signs. They even covered this beautiful sheepdog with a stenciled sign! That was the last straw!
Each commissioned piece receives a choice of 3 portraits of their pet, by 3 different artists. That way, one is sure to please, 3 artists get work, and the extras are sold in museums as Folk Art. Satisfaction is guaranteed. I don’t accept money until after the customer chooses a portrait. No bad karma here! The art is synthetic enamel on metal, about a square foot in size. Above (clockwise from top left) is Denver by Amar Shrestha, Hari Prasad and Sabala.