Thursday, January 29, 2009

Contemporary Middle East Art Show

Ramin Haerizadeh
What an attention grabbing, interesting collection of contemporary art emanating from the art inspired people of the Middle East and old world Persia. That's nothing new as art has held an ancient pride of place from the birthplace of Three Faiths. The Saatchi Gallery compiled a wide range of artists using an assortment of mediums involving the head, heart and hands of artiste and audience. The political or the profane are not held in abeyance as the freedom of expressions include a beautiful rendering of a deplorable West Bank checkpoint that illustrates what both sides endure and see differently. Charles Saatchi pulled artists with ancestral roots from Arabia and Persia, but domiciled all over the globe, for "Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East", the almost five month showing in Britain. (Qalandia by Wafa Hourani)
British collector Charles Saatchi has filled his new gallery with over 80 paintings, sculptures and installations from the Middle Ea st representing a vibrant art scene that he hopes will challenge people's assumptions about the region.

The works, gathered over the last four years by the Baghdad-born impresario, touch on sensitive topics. They depict the horror of conflicts past and present, explore suppressed sexuality and examine awoman's place in the Muslim world.
"Our sense of the Middle East is so dominated by reports of war, the tensions and the troubles," said Rebecca Wilson, the gallery's head of development. (Untitled Art from Shadi Ghadirian)
From prostitutes to praying women in ethereal white tinfoil, aptly named ghosts, which is a three dimensional echo from another culture. On a much smaller exhibition scale it is somewhat reminiscent of the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang in Shaanxi Province, China with neatly aligned rows and a rhythmic repetitive use of material. The show opens Friday 30 January with a scheduled close on 6 May, 2009. There is a illustration book - 208 pages, available through the Saatchi Gallery that captures the art and include biographical sketches of some of the artists. Kader Attia's contribution is the Ghost display. (Pictured WshhWshh from Nadia Ayari)

Beirut Cautchouc is a Beirut floor mat map by Marwan Rechmaoui
(Photo Courtesy Reuters: Toby Melville)
Tala Madani
Since it is art, criticism to follow should be a hotbed of controversy. First, because many of the artists are Iranian while others live in a more westernized flamboyant habitat like Dubai. The art scene is seeing a number of means for Middle Eastern artworks to arrive on the stage. Qatar opened a spectacular edifice, Museum of Islamic Art, with the building itself as the first piece of art from the Chinese American architect, IM Pei.

The ever artful and always interesting author on Arabic art and architecture, daab, brings the beauty of
interiors to life in the book, Arabian Design. Forms and function and the influences from the past show up in very modern building or contemporary pieces of artwork throughout the Middle East.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Presidential Inauguration For the Ages Begins

 And so, World History begins Anew...
History books will record this day as a watershed filled with tears and a mighty river of emotion that flows
around the world. In these modern times, so will Tivo, DVDs, digital cameras, the internet, social networks and those who have the spirit of the young at heart.  For me, it is seriously o'dark thirty and my oatmeal will be nice and hot as Barack Hussein Obama Jr raises his right hand and swears upon the 16th president's store bought Bible to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  Pennsylvania Avenue will see 13,000 people march by the Obama First Family including the Tuskegee Airmen who will also have places of honor at the Capitol, marching bands from the Aloha State. 

A friend rang me from the Adams Morgan area yesterday thrilled with the crowds and the genuine caring for their fellow citizen as they stream to all historic points in the nations capitol.  Another made me laugh as the weather has been in the eighties and nineties here in Southern California lately and her family is braving below freezing temps to be witnesses to History. The president-elects license plates will be of specific interest and whether as president will the No taxation without representation make a strong comeback.  The citizen's of the District are eager ti participate as well.

From November 4, 2008 Election Night Reaction As U2 Sings - 

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Day for Kings, Presidents & People

Usually MLK Day has the media short changing the day into soundbitsy clips of the I Have A Dream speech to fit between commercials to do their duty and pay a quick homage. But now all is different. Twelve hours after the strike of midnight on the National Day of Service, a reparation or down payment on his Dream and last expressed wish about the Promised Land when Barack Obama puts his hand on Lincoln's smallish gilt edged Bible and swears an oath to serve as president. What makes the American heart beat remains filled with vast hopes and vital concerns to the rest of the world who will watch and hear a call to serve. Slavery's stains muted America's large bouncing check to reaching that More Perfect Union part of the program, until the morrow and the world will take note.

Odd that the Letter from a Birmingham Jail was a public oped crafted in a cell as a rebuttal against shortsighted black preachers meaning to lower the lofty aims of MLK and by extension the Civil Rights movement. Coverage of MLK Day with grainy images of the mall filled with 250,000 bus riding and marching folks from all over the nation will compare to the almost 1,000,000 who showed up for the We Are One event for the first bi-racial president. An eloquent letter of legacy, published in June of 1963, before the Dream speech that speaks across the decades to another movement filled with youthful vigor on matters of Life & death issues that shall not wait patiently. The glue that binds is based on character and courage. Maya Angelou often states without Courage none of the other Virtues can be practiced.

Martin Luther King Jr responded to a need to serve a seamstress thrown in jail for staying seated on a bus in 1955. Rosa Parks spent her spare time volunteering and serving as secretary for the Montgomery Alabama NAACP. The 21st century is in a deficit in the serving with a dearth of business leaders lapsing into lawless looting from the public funds and private market square. Now people must bridge the yawning gap, with not very many survival skills, to reach the other side except character built by service. Now another person of color with slaveholders in his past stood before Lincoln on the steps urging a call to action to serve with Courage and Characters.

Reverend King served from jail many times in the pursuit of Justice as promisedby the Founding documents and the Amendments arising out of the Emancipation Proclamation. Nonviolent with Civil Right's moral compass set on true north. The struggle for equality in the land of the free and home of the brave came via words accompanied by synchronized actions of service to the attention of those who bestow the honor of a Nobel peace prize.

In Oslo, Norway King's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (won through the blood and tears of a 35 year old) acts as another beacon on the scope of international heft focused on USA stated policies and oblivious practices. In the thousand year old Westminster Abbey, atop the Great West Door resides a robed figure carved in King's likeness from marble enshrined in
a pantheon of ten Christians dedicated to Martyr's of the world from the 20th century.

In Occupied Europe, a group of flying guardian Angels, literally, had the crappiest planes they fixed themselves, yet the most distinguished of flying records by winging it on faith and serving with courage to honor the sacrifices in the 1940's. They are known as the Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd Regiment
Seated near the back of Mount Zion's airy sanctuary, 85-year-old William Booker of Kirkland, a surviving Tuskegee Airman, leaned on his cane and marveled. His grandchildren, Marcus and Brandon, were singing in the children's choir. A few weeks earlier, the president-elect had sent a letter inviting him to the inauguration.

It was a far cry from the years of humiliation Booker and his unit had suffered during and after World War II, demeaned by their own country as inept and too intellectually inferior to be fighter pilots.

The airmen's success in combat in fact contributed to desegregating the military, bolstering a fledgling civil rights movement and broadened acceptance of blacks as leaders.

Last month, Obama wrote to Booker that he had reserved space near the front of the inaugural crowd for the retired Boeing Co. engineer because "he said he was standing on the shoulders of the Tuskegee Airmen," said Booker, whispering hoarsely.
MLK was a young man who was fired up and ready to go. The establishment was doing incremental ism and decided to upbraid the upstart, not for the last time, on what really mattered - patience. King responded with a book on Why We Can't Wait. barack Obama picked up King's message on the fierce urgency of now and the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.

Stevie Wonder put forth his patriot's soul, treasure and time and determination towards finally getting a King holiday in 1986 eighteen years after King's assassination. It is fitting that the bridge is music from Stevie that thrilled a campaign at a Jefferson Jackson dinner in Iowa six weeks before a fateful caucus at the end of an astounding speech from Barack Obama. Signed, Sealed, Delivered, he's Ours now as a president in less than 36 hours and all he is seeking to have all serve equally.

Double Pulitzer Prize winner for biographical portrayals of Martin Luther King Jr., Taylor Branch has written the trilogy for eternal reverence and reference.

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963 Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963 - 1965 At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blair House Hosts The Obamas

Emily Post would have been hard pressed to render a Solomon-worthy answer to the Head of State etiquette issue that surrounded presidential sleep overs at Blair House.  Throw in a ghost, 5,000 more square feet than the 65,000 square foot white Georgian manor caddy corner across the street, a detested ex-Australian Prime Minister getting an honor from a detestable president, two little girls that will have moved 5 times in four weeks (Chicago to Hawaii back to Chicago to the Hay-Adams to Blair House to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) to and a request to park the family at Blair House early.  One American head of state rules who stays at Blair House and the future US head of state wanted to use the presidential suite early. Hmmm.  The hopeful future head of state lost that battle and moved in to 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue on Martin Luther King's actual birthday January 15th. 
It's no secret that President-elect Obama and his family requested to move into Blair president, but were bumped by the former prime minister of Australia, John Howard. Double-booking! Incoming presidents and their families traditionally move into Blair House on January 15, five days before inauguration. The Obama family asked to move in several days earlier than the due date—before their daughters started school—but they were denied access by the Bush administration. They ended up moving into the historic Hay-Adams instead. Howard, by the way, was booked for only one night: January 12.
Lyndon Baines Johnson's administration started Blair House's acquisition of official provenance by adding it to National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Blair House is a honest to goodness National Historic Landmark (NHL) complete with signatures and ceremonies commemorating it as such during the Nixon presidency.  As Barack Obama echoes elements of Abraham Lincoln's ascendancy to the presidency, its a pertinent fact that Blair House was the residence for a Lincoln staffer.  None of Barack's staffers will be holed up in there as the State Department has control of the building.  Interestingly, competitor presidential aspirant Seward from the Empire State became Lincoln's Secretary of State as in modern times, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Secretary of State designate from New York for a President-elect Obama.  (Photo courtesy BH website)

First, it was the home of a newspaper publisher, then a family compound as hebought the house next door to house his daughter and brand spanking new son-in-law who was related to Robert E. Lee.  A century later the US government turned it into a US owned asset in 1942.  Harry S Truman camped there for almost four years after gutting the inside of the White House to restore it to the level of powerful beauty George Washington and James Hoban envisioned more than two hundred years ago.  Blair House also saw the genesis of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine.  There was No Blair House or official guest house in 1792, DC was swamp land with tobacco farms plantations sprinkled about with slave labor.  President Truman put Blair House into the public consciousness in the fifties for another reason.  Puerto Rican nationalists killed a Secret Service agent outside Blair House as they tried to rush the premises to assassinate the president.  Now Blair House is part of the security cordon covered by the White House's Secret Service protection.  

Bill Clinton practiced his speech, revised his speech in the suite's library, then stood next to his limo and bellowed for Hillary and Chelsea to hurry up the morning of his first inaugural.  Blair House has seen it all.  Sasha and Malia had a homework corner set up for them.  Blair House is a giant interconnected set of townhouses with a suite in the light colored one with the formal entrance with the green awning over the porch.  First, President -elect Obama and Michelle Obama will formally sign the guest book filled with the likes of Charles de Gaulle, jawaharal Nehru, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II.  The Obamas will reside on the second floor with access to a living room, library and sitting room and a bathroom recently upgraded to a marbleized five star plus venue.  CSPAN, my favorite channel, will broadcast a special showing many of these specialized rooms inside Blair House.  This is red-letter Special because cameras and film crews are allowed in that august space about as often as a lunar eclipse combines with a meteor shower.  (Photo courtesy State Department)

Someday Malia and Sasha's memoirs will include the short stay in the sumptuous Blair House post 1980's Regan Renovations.  This story from Laura Blair Marvel chronicals the adopted daughters sojourn in Blair House before 1942 in the book, A Child in Blair House: Memoir.

Click here for more items on the Transition

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Golden Globes 2009 Fashion & Follies

Number 66 for the Golden Globes highlighted fashion forays into the désert and for silver screens big and small. The designer eats on behalf of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were great while the show drifted along as apéritifs increased in alcohol content.

De Apertif at GG 2009, Ze Entrée at GG 2009, Le Dessert at GG

Best dressed of the evening goes to a soigné Salma Hayek

Botega Venetta creation

The corset bustier look with wild draping was the theme of the night. Hair seemed to be created by Charlie the Truly Evil hairstylist for Drew Barrymore wearing Galliano and two tones of boring blonde by Cameron Diaz in a Chanel engineered frock.

Evan Rachel Wood of The Wrestler has a wedding cake tiered fairy princess gone lacy black look from Elie Saab(AP). Dexter's Julie Benz is cinched at the waist in the scads of material blah blah iridescent blue dress. The most useless accessory of the night - a belt. Seems to be a rather common styling 2009 preference. (AFP) And nope, it does not work for everybody.

Last year Olivia rocked a dress at the Emmy's - tonight, not so much.
A belt with bustier in purple with red hair to pass out the now sturdier GG awards. It's lilac run amok with a belt. Even Demi's and Bruce's daughter had to do the belt thing and a sneaking suspicion its Christina Appelgate's dress in a different color - Mom was elegant.

Debra Messing gets it right after a couple of off years - classic, one color with the frou frou involved in the Vera Wang dress that has a waist sash built in.

Critic's Choice Award winner for Rachel Got married, Anne Hathaway had a Armani Privé dress and a gem of a stylist for the occasion. Hayden Panettiere is now getting the styling thing with a beautiful Gianfranco Ferre plum purple with a tad of glitter above the waist detail.

Eva Longoria Parker one of the few wearing bright and bold from Reem Acra, but still bustiered and skintight....

Guys: Aaron Eckhart form the widely acclaimed Dark Knight isn't going to be mistaken for the chauffeur. (LAT) - Tiki Barber's tie is interesting, but the elegant suit looks well done. the pair, Freida Pinto and Dev Patel from Slum dog looks good. The drapery and tiers this year are a bit overwhelming. Button actor Alexandre Desplat layered the black and light black in a matte finish. Simon Baker looks Bond like. (wire image)

Last year's winner of the glitter ball on Dancing with the Stars is a Grecian draped svelte Brooke Burke. Hint - that much draping can leave the florals on another dress. It's gilding the lily. Pssst, the hanging lock of hair a no-no. Eva Mendes is wearing Dior with a giant hip acessory. J Lo went Marchesa backless and light in front.

Purple with frills at the neck and the fitted waist is the outfit for just looking at the food for Maria Menounos.

And bringing the straight up ugly is Maggie Gyllenhaal. (G) A Belt - and florals make it stop... I'm begging.

What were the stylists thinking this year, J. Mendel's shirred and patterns again in black with spots of color for Taraji Henson from the Button movie. Heidi Klum joined her in the I was blinded by sunlight when choosing my dress after coming out of a fashion coma. Killer shoes though.... (G)

Thank you Kate Winslet with a chic belt on an all black dress.

Christina Appelgate also does better in a golden champaign bustier by Roberto Cavalli for the evening. Miley Cyrus, while irreverent gets the Marchesa glam styling thing right. Marisa Tormei has the look of a regal Spanish bullfighter with princess touches. I like it and the belt is unusual in this case. (WI)
Woman of a certain era - they dressed faster than an egg boils collection...

Love ya Glenn C and Armani, but my goodness it's like Mother of the Bride meets Mrs. Cleaver. Susan Sarandon decided on the velvet man tux cut for a for woman. And Sigourney Weaver is doing the human female alien. Beyoncé strikes a pose in what seems an ill fitting Elie Saab gown or she's turned into a pear.
Let's just have a moment of silence for America. Seriously - a long oh whoa silence for Oscar de la Renta. (You don't even want to know about the Carolina Herrera that Renne Zellweger wore.)

Irony is not dead in Hollywood. the rehabbed sexual guy, David Duchovony, shows up after his part in Californication to present at the 66th annual show after last years non-show. (wire image)