Tribute to an American Artist

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By Ray Castillo

WINDHOEK

Namibian Vistas in Black and White is quite simply an outstanding exhibition of art.

What is perhaps even more impressive is that Doug is not a full-time artist.

He is also not Namibian, which gives him an interesting perspec-tive.

American artists over the centuries have left the United States to seek out their own inner voices and to reach beyond the norms and expectations of their peers and their culture.

Take Richard Wright or Man Ray, who went to France to find their vision and their true art.

Some of you may have met or seen the young African American singer Seth Sharp who visited Namibia last year.

He is living in Iceland and in an interview he talked about this tradition among American artists and the way in which it made him freer to experiment and to reach new insights without worrying about being judged by peers and critics who had certain expectations of his work.

The Embassy will soon welcome to Namibia a young Fulbright artist.

She wants to capture the starkness and beauty of the country and she wants to stretch her own artistic horizons.

Now Doug may not be entirely comfortable with my labelling him an expatriate artist.

After all, he did not come to Namibia to pursue art.

He came here to work with Namibians and to help you meet your development goals and challenges.

This is what he has done throughout his career. But Doug is a bit of a renaissance man – he is a competitive bicycler, he is an outdoorsman, a hiker and camper, he restores furniture, he writes screenplays and he paints.

He does all of these things with great energy and intensity and pursues excellence.

I think that he has achieved a view of Namibia that few Americans have.

He has done so on a bike – doing the desert dash – and by fishing Namibia’s waters, travelling its roads, and sitting outside observing and trying to portray its character in black and white oil.

Doug has spent over three years trying to capture the interplay of light and shadow and darkness and how the sky and the land meet on the horizon in various regions of Namibia.

I think that you will all agree with me that he has succeeded and that his paintings capture this essence that he has been searching for.

His paintings also show the vastness of the sky and country and the rugged quality of the land.

It should be obvious to us all that Doug has fallen in love with Namibia – the space, the open vistas, the ruggedness.

Last Saturday, when I stopped by the gallery, he told me: “When I returned from vacation a few days ago, I thoughtǟ

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