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Addis Art was inspired by Mesai Haileleul's passion for the art of his beloved country Ethiopia. The genesis of the project was Mesai's introduction to the work of one contemporary Ethiopian artist, Shiferaw Girma. He was so moved by one particular painting (see photo), that he kept going back to it again and again, and he became intrigued with Shiferaw's background and inspiration. Through a very good friend, Mr. Fekade Fantahoun, who resides in Addis Ababa, Mesai was introduced to Shiferaw and other artists, thus opening the door to the exciting world of contemporary Ethiopian art.

Addis Art  - S. Girma - Oil on CanvasOn subsequent visits to Ethiopia, Mesai sought out other contemporary artists and, to his delight, met many highly talented and creative individuals who-inspired by the freedom of expression that flourished in post-Marxist times-were part of Ethiopia's cultural renaissance. He saw the need to connect these artists with the large Ethiopian diaspora living in the United States and elsewhere. He became determined to bring the work of these artists to a broader audience.

Mesai realized that the best exhibition venues were in locations with great concentrations of expatriate Ethiopians. With the help and good will of WorldSpace-a Washington, D.C.-based satellite radio company that offered its lobby as exhibition space for African artists-he mounted his first show. It featured prominent Ethiopian contemporary artist, Lulseged Retta. His next two shows, in Oakland and Los Angeles, California, displayed the work of Shiferaw Girma. Beyond the cultural and aesthetic experiences they provided, these exhibitions were a new way of bringing people together for an uplifting and positive purpose, while, at the same time, supporting Ethiopians back home.

This web site is an extension of Mesai's mission: To share the work of Ethiopian artists with the world. It is intended as a means by which Ethiopian artists can overcome barriers, both economic and geographic, to show their work. The web site will enable anyone wishing to see the magnificent creations of Ethiopian artists to browse through catalogues of their work, to learn about them, and to find exhibitions to attend. Soon, Ethiopian artists will be able to submit work for consideration directly through this site and thus be guaranteed an audience for their work, as well as a connection to those interested in purchasing art. For most of these artists, the expense of mounting a show in the United States is prohibitively expensive. Perhaps this virtual cyber-gallery can function as a viable alternative to a physical space. It is Mesai's wish that as many people as possible are exposed to the work of the wonderful artists working in Ethiopia today. The public's interest and support may make actual exhibitions possible in the future, while sustaining the creativity of the artists in the present.