The Kenya Museum Society’s annual Affordable Art Show just made a record-breaking Sh3 million from the sales of contemporary Kenyan art.
The Art Show was only a three-day affair but from day one, the exhibition coordinator Dr Marla Stone said this year’s event was already looking likely to break several records.
“Normally we sell 300 tickets on the open night of the Show, but we ran out of tickets long before we were scheduled to close,” added KMS chairperson Patricia Jentz.
Around 320 tickets were ultimately sold, which Mrs Jentz notes was almost as many artworks that were on display during the art showcase.
KMS volunteers were also impressed that in spite of the rain and the electoral uncertainty, the public came out to their exhibition both to see the new artworks and to meet many of the artists as well.
The majority of sales were made on Friday night. “I think the public has figured out it’s best to come early on Friday night if they want to get interesting art at bargain prices,” said Dr Stone who is also one of the adjudicators.
The KMS Affordable Art Show can boast of being the largest juried art exhibition in all of East Africa. For instance, this year more than 360 artworks were presented to adjudicators who included a combination of KMS volunteers and National Museum staff.
Local artists had been advised to bring just two artworks a piece. “Plus they couldn’t be more than a meter square in size,” said Mrs Jentz as she ushered me into the Museum board room where the ‘rejected’ art was awaiting last Monday’s pickup by the artists whose works didn’t sell. (Meanwhile, the buyers were allowed to collect their purchased paintings and sculptures on Sunday afternoon, shortly before the Show closed at 4pm.)
“We made the public wait to collect their selected works until Sunday since prospective buyers were coming to the Show up to the last minute,” added Dr. Stone.
From the Museum boardroom, Mrs Jentz said that some of the artworks were rejected not because they were not appealing. “Some were just too big to exhibit, like this one landscape by Evans Yegon, who also calls himself the Yegonizer,” Mrs Jentz added.
In all more than 38 percent of the artworks displayed during the Affordable Art show. The annual event is put on by the Kenya Museum Society specifically so they can raise funds to assist the Museum which special projects.
“This year, we plan to build a national taxidermy laboratory in the museum,” said Mrs Jentz whose group of volunteers will use 30 percent of the funds raised for their project.
“The other 70 percent will go back to the artists,” she added.