‘Asante': Kenya native Grace Mugala sharing art, giving thanks with new gallery in Palmer Twp.
- An African art gallery is officially open in Palmer Park Mall in Palmer Township
- Grace Mugala, owner of Asante Art Gallery, said it offers a first of its kind to the area
- With her roots in Kenya, Mugala said the new gallery will give art-lovers a glimpse into life overseas
PALMER TWP., Pa. — "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see," French artist Edgar Degas once said.
Ever since Kenya native Grace Mugala first shared her artwork with the area at Musikfest 2008, she said she’s had lots of encouragement from those she’s met to open her own space to display her pieces.
“It takes a while to get a gallery,” Mugala said of those past conversations. “But one of these days, I will.”
Her dream became a reality on Nov. 4, as she cut the ribbon for her beloved Asante Art Gallery in Palmer Park Mall in Palmer Township.
“It promotes cross-cultural understanding and dialogue to the world. It reflects the modern African point of view of life. By capturing the zeitgeist of time, it presents and opens a window into the contemporary world.”Asante Art Gallery owner Grace Mugala
It's an endeavor she said is a first of its kind in the Lehigh Valley by featuring contemporary style artwork with an East African influence.
The art provides a way of sharing the stories of her culture, she said.
“It promotes cross-cultural understanding and dialogue to the world,” Mugala said. “It reflects the modern African point of view of life.
“By capturing the zeitgeist of time, it presents and opens a window into the contemporary world.”
Asante Art Gallery offers many of these windows, Mugala said, providing “vibrant and colorfully bright, intricate yet simple designs” paired with powerful messages and symbolism.
Mugala first shared her passions with LehighValleyNews.com in May at the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission’s 58th Fine Art & Craft Show.
“Asante” is a Swahili word for “thanks,” Mugala said.
She said she’s thankful for her friends, family and fellow artist colleagues for coming out and contributing to the grand opening.
But she’s going to continue doing shows and more to help foster more support from area art-lovers to help sustain the 4,000-square-foot gallery that originally opened in June.
“I was blown away by the beauty of this new space in our community for all to gather and enjoy.”U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh Valley, in a Facebook post
Mugala had a variety of other vendors come through for the ribbon-cutting, whose works still are for sale at the gallery. Some of those included a fashion designer from New York with roots in Senegal; another artist originally from Guinea, West Africa; one from Doylestown and another from West Chester, Chester County; a customer from Harrisburg; along with specialists in wood carving and pottery.
Mugala said you’ll find all of that, along with watercolors, acrylic on canvas and varieties of both with frames and without to give the buyer further framing options to match surrounding furniture.
Price range varies by size of the work, but Mugala said there’s something for everyone and every budget.
Two paintings and one dress were sold that day, she said.
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh Valley, also was present, offering a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to Mugala for her artistic contributions to the Lehigh Valley.
“I was blown away by the beauty of this new space in our community for all to gather and enjoy,” Wild said in a Facebook post following the event.
Mugala said she first met Wild a handful of years ago at a previous Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton.
'A long journey'
As for the future of Asante Art Gallery, Mugala said she’s open to collaborations with other local artists interested in sharing their work at the gallery.
She said she’s also excited to potentially hold a Black History Month art celebration in 2024.
“It just takes courage and a lot of time, and you need to be persistent. Otherwise, it’s a long journey. It’s not easy to open one, but with time and you’re committed, it’s possible.”Asante Art Gallery owner Grace Mugala, on starting a gallery
For those looking to one day open their own gallery, Mugala had a little advice.
“It just takes courage and a lot of time, and you need to be persistent,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s a long journey.
“It’s not easy to open one, but with time and you’re committed, it’s possible.”