This week’s LadyDrinks Member Spotlight is on art curator Anu Bhat. Before moving to the Far East, Anu had founded an little kids’ art school in New Jersey. The room mimicked the Lascaux Caves in France and students were encouraged to do away with their traditional paradigms about art and paint on their backs. Today she is the founder of The Rural Painter, giving artisans from the Far East exposure to a Western patron. My Q&A with her.
Joya: What brought you to Asia?
Anu Bhat: My husband’s job relocated us to Singapore. I knew this posting ‘would not be forever’ so we took advantage of our time there and travelled. Thailand. Indonesia. Vietnam. Japan. Cambodia. Malaysia. All the while, soaking up the food and culture.
“The smell of damp earth consumed me as I walked along the galli’s (broken roads). I marvelled at how the artisans both lived and worked in the same tiny dwellings. The walls and floors and floors were incomplete but they were excited to introduce me to their families. Their passion was just bursting off the canvasses. ”
Something inside was nudging her to take up the art business again.
Joya: What was the genesis of The Rural Painter?
Anu: Many studied at local art schools, but didn’t have the means to reach an international market. The artists saw me as a beacon of hope, to get their talent out into the world.
Www.theruralpainter.com was born. It would give my new friends a whole new audience — -and a way to monetize it.
Joya: What are some of your favorite pieces you have placed in homes?
Anu: “The Dancer’s Sister,” the second in a series by the artist Putu Hardika from Denpasar, Indonesia. Putu is part of a group of burgeoning Balinese painters who specialize in exploring the energy of color in abstract forms of painting. Also “Maidens” from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Artist Cao Liem focuses intently on the ‘non la,’ a traditional hat worn by ladies in Vietnam.
Joya: Today, what countries do you source your art from?
Anu: Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal. I recently went to Chiang Mai.
Joya: What would you say has been your biggest lesson as an entrepreneur?
Anu: Being answerable to no one but myself. I appreciate the freedom to work my own hours, but to achieve the maximum I can each day.
Joya: What are you most proud of?
Anu: As I work to sell pieces made by the artisans in Cambodia and Vietnam, I’m also giving a helping hand to the artisans’ families. I’m most proud of the fact that the proceeds from the sale helps them to support their families, support their craft, and puts food on the table.
March 22nd, I’m hosting an event with the art I’ve curated from these artisans. With my affiliation with the non profit Manavi. I’m giving women who are survivors of domestic violence a supporting hand as well. A Journey Through Asia is a cocktail and dinner at Martinsville Gardens in Bridgewater.