As I was walking out of the Holiday Arts Bazaar with Mr. Kelly, we passed one of the artists in the show--a painter, carrying a large canvas. I was telling Mr. Kelly that I would be studying abroad in Sénégal and that I would be taking a class in Wolof. The painter paused on the steps, turned, and said, "That's my language!"
He put down his painting and we shook hands. His name is Moussa Gueye, and he explained that he was from Mauritania, but had family in Dakar. I said I was excited about going and mentioned the New York Times article about the music scene there. Did I know any artists, he asked. No, I said, and he then handed me his business card--"Before you leave," he said, I had to contact him, and "I will give you some materials." If I had any questions about Wolof or French, he would be happy to answer them. We parted and as I walked Mr. Kelly to the corner, he remarked: "You never know who you're gonna meet."
Gueye has much more to him, I discovered. He's a refugee, an asylee, an architect, a New Haven resident, and now an artist-in-residence at a nearby art gallery. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get out to see him before I leave.