Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art in Embassies Program

It is with sadness that I learned today of the loss of life of six Yemeni guards and four civilians this morning as the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, was hit by two car bombs.

I have a particular interest in that embassy because one of my paintings, “Hudson Highlands,” is on loan to that embassy, part of the “Art in Embassies Program” sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

There is no official word yet about the condition of the building or its contents, though reports indicate that further explosions and gunfire followed the initial bomb blast, and smoke was seen rising from the compound.

I also have a couple of paintings on loan to the U.S. Permanent Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the short run, artwork has no power over guns and bombs, but I believe that cultural exchanges between countries can make a small difference in the long run.
News photo courtesy ©EPA
News story here and here
Art in Embassies Program, link.


Unknown said...

My father was US ambassador to Outer Mongolia (1990-1992), then to Albania (1995-1996), and was a strong proponent of the Art in Embassies program. I am very pleased to know that you are participating.

As for the embassy bombings...they seem very personal to my family, though we knew no one there, this time.

Terry Daniels said...

The kind of guys who did this probably hate art as much as they hate America, or "infidels", or anything else. It's an awful thing, and just plain sad, in the long view.

About "Art in Embassies", I'm wondering about this program now, because I just made my first every professional sale (yay me!) to a guy at an embassy in Eastern Europe. In retrospect it makes sense that you'd want to put art from various places on embassy walls, but at the time of the sale I thought it was an unusual place to be sending my work... Not that I mind!

ZD said...

The blog for my college recently said that hundreds of years from now, we will be remembered for our great art and not our corporations and politicians.

jeff said...

In Islam depicting images is frowned upon as it is in the more orthodox forms of Judaism and some Protestant churches.

That's why there is so much great design in Islamic architecture.

James I love these two paintings, bravo!. DO you have larger images of these?

I hope the Hudson River painting survived.

Justin said...

The car bomb apparently went off at the gates of the embassy, not inside the compound--that appears to be part of the reason that no embassy staff were killed. Since the mid-90s, U.S. embassies have become heavily fortified buildings, sometimes to the detriment of the architecture--the U.S. embassy in Ottawa is surrounded now by concrete barriers that keep cars a minimum of 20 metres from the building itself. I'm fairly sure that nothing inside the embassy was harmed.

Erik Bongers said...

After seeing a lot of those small quick outdoor paintings, I've been wondering if there was more than just those numerous oil sketches.
And here they are!
I'd wish there was an online gallery of those.

I sense mixed feelings inbetween the lines of this post.
The conflict between the fear that ones precious paintings could be lost in a fight (or accident) and the knowledge that loss of human life is infinitely worse.

Some decades ago, people saved some of Rubens' paintings from a burning church in Antwerp at the risk of their lives.
A painting of Rubens against a human life? Some would consider this debatable...

Erik Bongers said...

About the fire.

Stephen James. said...

I too believe in the power of art to help create bridges of understanding.