Many of the Nepal Art Dog project's artists are fathers.
Shree Laimachhain and his wife, Bimala, in their shop.
Shree is about to 'go out' to South Korea, a euphemism for leaving the country for an extended period to work to support his family. It is a 3-year contract -- the first 6 months’ salary will go directly to the Manpower agency that recruited him. While he was sad to leave his family, he is philosophical about it and hope that it will guarantee better education for his family in the future.
Currently 26% of Nepal's GNP (Gross National Product) is generated by this remittance money coming from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Malaysia and South Korea. Often these workers are not given the monies that they are promised when they arrive in their chosen country -- they have their passports confiscated and become basically slave laborers. I certainly hope that this is not the case for Shree.
Shree has been trying to 'go out' to South Korea for 3 years now and has finally gotten the okay. He has spent a lot of time and money already for Korean language lessons and travel back and forth from Pokhara to Kathmandu, etc. He has friends that are already there and this gives me hope that he will be well-treated while in South Korea.
Shree's son, Anup, will become the head of the household at age 14, taking care of his mother and sister (holding Shree's portrait of Yuki the Shibu Inu).
This is Shree on the day that I met him in 2007, on my second Danger Dog trip.
Also from 2007, Shree and his family. Shree's wife Bimala sells vegetables from the studio to supplement the family income.
Shree Laimachhain - a self portrait.
Shree will not be painting his lovely folk art while there but will be hired as an agricultural worker. He says that he intends to learn good work habits from the South Koreans.
It makes me sad that Shree can make a better living in the fields of South Korea than he can painting.
I’m going to miss him, but not as much as his family will.
Shree is the fourth artist that the Danger Dogs art project has lost to this phenomenon since starting this project in 2007. You can read more about the effects that 'going out' have on Nepal in a recent article in the Kathmandu Post by Barbara Adams. The article also details a novel program called "Youth Volunteers Nepal" that aims to halt the exodus of young people - fathers or otherwise - and help the people of Nepal at the same time.
Max and Ernie by Shree Laimechhain 2010
The cheerful smiles, the delicate feet, Ernie's white lips, those tails -- this portrait is wonderful. Shree often puts the dogs in green pastures. Originally from a village 5 hours north of Lake Begnas, you can see his bucolic roots in this one.
Molly the Scottie by Shree Laimachhain 2010
Shree had just moved his studio (the third move since 2007) and had repainted a lot of it with this striped background. I guess Molly inspired him to do the same.
Like many of the signboard artists, Shree cleans his brushes on the walls. Doodling almost. You can see more walls on an earlier post entitled Artist Walls in Nepal. You can see where Molly background comes from.
Kahuna the Zen Pug by Shree Laimachhain 2009
This portrait of a pug is very typical of Shree's color palette. This one is available at NewStoneAgela.com. Tell Frannie Michelle sent you!
Sophie the White Poodle by Shree Laimachhain 2009
Shree has fun with the dogs' jewelry and his Danger Dog subjects seem happy.
Barred Rock Hen by Shree Laimachhain 2009
Shree's style morphs from year to year. I can tell which year each portrait was painted just by their varied background. I could tell Shree was having hard times in 2009, so I left an order for this chicken and told him I would pick up next trip. He had 5 months to paint this. There's no way of telling how much time he spent, but I can definitely see some planning went into it.
Grace Kelly the Enlightened Buff Orpington by Shree Laimachhain 2009
This seems to be the first portrait where Shree is moving toward his newer style. Ginger (Grace's nickame) literally glows with a golden halo.
Dangers Chihuahua by Shree Laimachhain 2007
This early piece mimicks the paintings that I found on his wall the day I found him. To this day, Shree has extra art on his walls. Not born to an artist family as is common in Nepal, he paints because he loves it.