This Thursday, May 22nd a very unique art exhibit will open in New York City. It features art from Iraqi artists, most of whom cannot even be publicly identified for their safety. It was a Navy Lieutenant serving in Iraq that found this art and worked to bring it over to the United States to exhibit and sell for the artists. I served with that Lieutenant, Chris Brownfield, for about two years when we were both stationed on the same submarine. He’s a very unique guy, as this initiative suggests!
From 2006 to 2007, a military liaison officer in the U.S. Embassy of Baghdad worked on the sidelines to develop relations with the artists of Baghdad. Under extremely unlikely circumstances, several of Baghdad’s artists trusted this military officer to share their art with the world. It is the first collection of art in the United States comprised entirely of works from wartime contemporaries of Iraq. The scope of the exhibition is unprecedented, including works on Iraqi refugees, the children of war, genocide, and an Iraqi perspective on Shock and Awe.
The exhibition is taking place at the Pomegranate Gallery on 133 Greene Street in SoHo (see map here). The opening reception runs from 6–8pm on Thursday May 22nd, and the exhibition will be open through June 21st.
Jake Halpern wrote a great article about the exhibit in New York Magazine. He even managed to speak (via phone) to a couple of the artists involved. One of my favourite parts of the article describes how Chris had to pull rank with the military postal clerks in order to send the 100+ paintings back to the US!
If you can’t make it to the gallery, Chris has also produced a book that includes much of the same artwork. It’s tri-lingual in English, French and Arabic. You can buy it from Amazon.com here: Oil on Landscape; Art from Wartime Contemporaries of Baghdad.
If you live in or near New York City, I hope you get a chance to drop in on the exhibit; it should be interesting.