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Art connoisseurs will delight in an array of colourful canvases and powerful photographs that will be showcased tonight at US Ambassador Steven Bondy’s residence ... to create cross-cultural dialogue and foster mutual understanding through dynamic artist exchanges.
In 1963, the US Department of State’s office established Art in Embassies (AIE) to play a vital role in the nation’s public diplomacy and in the early 1960s, it was formalised by President John F Kennedy naming the programme’s first director.
Now, with more than 200 venues, AIE curates temporary and permanent exhibitions for the representational spaces of all US chanceries, consulates and embassy residences worldwide — such as Ambassador Steven’s home — featuring contemporary art from the US and the host countries.
“In any form, art is meant to change our perspective and push us to think,” ambassador Steven told GulfWeekly. “At its finest, art is transcendent, moving us to a higher plane of understanding. The exhibition, invited guests will see tonight, is designed to encourage the spirit to soar.”
These events provide international audiences with a sense of the quality, scope, and diversity of both countries’ art and culture as many of them might never travel to the US to personally experience the depth and breadth of America’s artistic heritage and values.
This particular exhibition will focus on two primary themes – abstract representation of natural scenes and America’s unique art form, jazz.
“Shell Rummel’s pieces, Remembering the Day and Misty Knoll, might be landscapes, seascapes, or cloud banks – contemplating them brings serenity,” shared the ambassador.
“Eileen Olson’s Sail at Daybreak shows a stylised classic seashore montage familiar to us all, and your imagination fills in the details.”
He added that Soo K Chang’s Stored Memories and Carol Ryan’s Native Truth could well be companion pieces, with their exquisite use of colour and geometric design creating a palette upon which we project our thoughts and emotions.
Claudia Cappelle’s Living Waters evokes the power and motion of the sea with bold brush strokes and colours.
“And how can depictions of jazz players not improve your mood?” Ambassador Steven questioned.
“James Kerr’s Jazz on the Square and The Block Party incorporate the soul and groove of the music, taking you to New Orleans’s Congo Square and Frenchmen Street.
“The photographs of jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie playing in far-three flung locations while on US State Department-sponsored Jazz Ambassadors programmes conjure an earlier era when American superstars personally spread their music, and American values, through extended tours.
“We are grateful to the artists for allowing us to display their works in our exhibition.”
He also thanked the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, New York, and the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey for lending the Jazz Ambassadors photographs.
“The State Department’s Office of Art in Embassies kindly assembled the pieces, and we benefited from Imtiaz Hafiz’s guidance and support,” he continued.
“I hope the invited guests share in the delight we feel in displaying this exhibition. Enjoy!”
While this event is not open to the public, find out more by following @usembassybahrain on Instagram.