Artist Kwaku Bediko and his wife Barbara live a simple life of inspired creativity near Warrenton.
“This work in this place inspires me,” said Kwaku, who is best known for his metal sculpture, particularly his signature palm trees found in Chuy’s restaurants across the country. “Instead of throwing things away, I reinvent them as something new and meaningful.”
The cycle of creative reinvention is one of Kwaku’s foundational philosophies.
“As humans we are all individually shaped by the Creator, so our work and our lives should reflect our individuality, not the stamp of a cookie cutter,” said Kwaku.
For the past 14 years, Kwaku and Barbara have worked side by side bringing their vision for their largest and longest running project, Bediko’s International Hostel, to life.
“Artists do a lot of unusual things because they see the world differently,” said Barbara, who characterizes herself not as an artist but as an artist’s helper. “Sometimes I have to plant my feet a bit, so one of us is grounded.”
Bediko’s International Hostel, which will celebrate its grand opening in March 2019, is located in the heart of Fayette County at the intersection of FM 1291 West and the cosmos. It bears the stamp of the owners’ personalities and lifelong passion for globe-trotting.
“Traveling the world broadens the mind,” Kwaku said. “We’re all kinfolks passing through this world as tourists on our way to another world. We stand on the common ground of humanity.”
Kwaku came to Round Top about 20 years ago as a vendor at the antiques show. He and Barbara, who have known one another since they were elementary school classmates in Houston, made Round Top their home in 2004. They moved from Houston.
“I had to drag Barbara away from the city,” Kwaku said. “Now I would have to drag her away from here—she loves it as much as I do.”
The hostel features four guest rooms that can accommodate eight, a common kitchen, tropically inspired gardens, an outdoor pavilion and a sculpture garden as well as an art showroom featuring finds from Central America, Africa and Turkey along with Kwaku’s original work.
When people enter this place, they encounter its spirit,” said Kwaku, who identifies himself as a prayerful person. “When I’m consistent in my prayer life, the Creator rewards me with inspiration and the energy to act on that inspiration immediately.”
Kwakue used on-going inspiration, not an architectural plan, to drive the hostel’s construction.
“We finished one project and jumped right into the next one,” Kwaku said. “The rhythm of progress honored the inspiration.”
Bright spots of inspired creativity abound. While Kwaku is known for his sculpture, he is also an accomplished mosaic artist. A multi-dimensional mosaic featuring portholes made from 747 turbines covers the interior western wall of the outdoor pavilion from floor to ceiling. The portholes frame sculptures in the garden. The sidewalks are a patchwork of multi-colored surfaces that add a touch of whimsy for getting from Point A to Point B.
“From beginning to end there is an organic flow,” Kwaku said.
The end, at least from a construction standpoint, is in sight. The Bedikos are putting the finishing touches on the last casita. Then, after returning from their annual trip to Belize, Kwaku will turn his attention to his “monument to Round Top,” a grove of three over-sized palm trees planted in the heart of the sculpture garden. The leaves, 12-feet long and 4-feet wide, will create a canopy. Guests can gather under the shade.
“People have been gathering since the beginning of time,” Kwaku said. “The simple act of gathering around a fire or under a shade is calming and relaxing. It focuses us on the now and makes us mindful of nature and one another.”
Kwaku hopes the hostel’s environment inspires their guests to simplify their lives and forge relationships.
“People are awed by the simplicity they find here,” Kwaku said. “In this place I hope people are inspired to simplify their own space, to define their own truth and to celebrate our shared humanity.”
by Lorie A. Woodward
photos by Rachel Alfonso-Smith, Shutterbunny Photography