PARIS LAS VEGAS LOS ANGELES CHICAGO
OBSERVER OF LIFE
Foreword to Adu Jahmal’s Coffee Table Book ~ by Anne Palmer Haley
I believe that only a few times in a generation do we see the manifestation of all the hopes, talent and dreams, the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice of the ancestors embodied in one soul. It is a cosmic combination that happens only rarely and the night I met Adu Jahmal, in a room full of middle-aged women drinking wine from his exquisitely carved bottles and glasses as he walked us, sang us, charmed us through the recitation of what makes a merlot more mellifluous than a cabernet, I knew I had happened upon one. It did not take me long to recognize him for what he was. The work spoke for itself. But it was more than that. It was the way he held their attention, their hearts and minds – or was it just me? – the way he captured their imaginations – or was it only mine? Kindred spirits. We exchanged cards, said we should do business. I visited his gallery. And that’s where the magic happened. Where it had been happening. Where it happens still, because when you are the generational, cosmic genius, the magic happens wherever you are.
He told me about the generations that had come before him, the grandmother who inspired him in life and empowered him in death, and I told him about mine. We basked together in the knowing of where we had come from, in the security of knowing who we were. We shared that gift. I soon learned, however, that his gifts were many. That his talents lay not only in the fine arts, but in the musical and entrepreneurial arts as well. Multiple instruments he plays; the drums seeming to be the closest beat to his heart. But I also saw thrift store jackets transformed into runway masterpieces and tossed lamp shades remade into collector’s items. In his hands, one man’s trash is every man’s treasure.
Soon enough I learned to be less astonished. I got used to the surprise of his exceptional gift and settled into being his sometimes lawyer, sometimes buyer, shameless admirer, and always friend. I am proud of him as an artist, as a business man, and as a keeper of the generational flame. I believe the ancestors are looking down and smiling. I believe you will do the same as you turn the pages of this beautiful book and see what I saw. Enjoy.