‘Oh, Quincy Land’ inspires new artist
About four months ago, with the urge to put paint to canvas, Cheikh Diouf of Quincy drove to a nearby store and purchased a canvas, a brush and 10 small tubes of acrylic paints.
What he created next was his first piece, titled after the song “Oh, Quincy Land.”
The painting is a simple geometric design of primary colors with varying shades for the fields, the Columbia River, irrigation circles and a hay stack.
The colorful abstract piece comes together to give a refreshing and unique view of Quincy.
“I had no idea about techniques, tools, canvas, textures or paints,” said Diouf, 60. “My only exposure to art had been street art in Senegal (West Africa) and in Paris 30 years ago. I went to a craft store and pretty much just grabbed things and started to paint whatever came into my head. I felt as if the canvas and the brush were in control.”
The painting now hangs in the Quincy Public Library along with about 20 others. As part of Diouf’s Senegalese/American art exhibit, the pieces will be up through March 15 for the public to view.
It’s been a busy four months for Diouf, whose passion and excitement for his new found hobby are clear when he talks. Others also are excited for him. He’s picked up several admirers along the way. Several of the displayed pieces have been sold. And he’s been commissioned to do a mural in someone’s home.
“His use of light and color and craft is unique to him,” said Pam Barrow, who was helping hang up the paintings recently. “And to the area.”
Born in Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa, Diouf has spent much of his life living in large metropolitan areas, such as Paris and Seattle. He married a Quincy native, Wendy Sauber, after meeting at a Seattle music festival. In 2008, the couple, now married 13 years, moved to Quincy to be near Wendy’s mother, Isabel Henson.
To introduce her husband to Quincy, Sauber and Diouf joined in the summer Saturday tours offered annually by the city. The tours often times focus on the agricultural industry and the geology of the area. One tour in particular still stands out for Diouf.
Along for the memorable tour was the late Carl Weber, whose family homesteaded in Quincy. When the tour traveled to Babcock Ridge, to the land the Weber family homesteaded, Carl Weber did something that left a lasting impression on Diouf.
“We were on the bus overlooking the Columbia River when Carl stepped away from the group and began to sing ‘Oh, Quincy Land’ at the top of his voice,” Diouf said. “It was apparent the words were special to him. I wished there was a way I could capture it as it so impressed me.”
Then, this August while driving home from Wenatchee, Sauber was explaining to Diouf about the agriculture around him – the changes in the crops, the irrigation systems and the thousands of acres of vineyards.
“I began to visualize how I saw it and could capture it on paper,” Diouf said of Quincy. “At that very moment, at age 60, I had never (before) thought of painting. I don’t even doodle, but decided I wanted to try.”
When, on a Sunday morning, Diouf announced to his wife of 13 years that he wanted to paint, she was confused.
“I thought he wanted to paint the bathroom,” Sauber said.
Hours later, Diouf completed his first piece, his vision of “Oh, Quincy Land.”
“That was the start of my love for painting, and I haven’t been able to stop,” said Diouf, who has been encouraged by family and friends. “In fact, my brain doesn’t rest.”
An employee at Columbia Colstor, Diouf works about 10 hours a week now on painting. In his home, he sits down in front of his canvas, turns on jazz music for inspiration and gets to work.
Diouf describes his style as “organic and raw.” He plays with different brushes, pallet knives and sponges, layering paints for depth and texture.
“It is just what my head and eye sees,” he said. “I seldom know what the exact outcome will be.”
While Diouf has clear visions of his finished pieces, he enjoys hearing what others see in his art work. Where he may see an African mask, others may see a landscape.
He only wants to make people smile, he said.
“I’m feeling so good when I (paint) something,” the fledgling artist said. “I’m not going to hold anything in me.”
— By Jill FitzSimmons, email@example.com