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Axis of art and culture, too
Over-due ‘cultural upgrade’ for ourselves


Lale’ Welsh Shahparaki
March 13, 2007

At a time when the President of the United States solicits support for another war against another “Axis of Evil” he needs to appeal to hate, fear and ignorance to get it. There’s only one real way to counter that, and it’s with exposure to our art, our culture and a dignified self-image. Not a bad No-Rooz resolution!

In San Francisco in time for No-Rooz, a group of 7 Iranian American artists, 2 musicians and a small, but feisty, non-profit group hope to alter dominant ideology through art, as the anti-dote to ignorance.

For my Non Farsi speaking friends, No-Rooz, literally ‘New Day’, is celebrated on the vernal equinox representing new beginnings, which is right around the corner on March 20th. It’s actually the only time of year when the sun shines above and below the equator in Iran, America and all parts of the world equally.  While this cosmic equality may not exactly inspire peace among our “leaders” (where’s the money in that?) it might not be a bad time for us to showcase some of Iran’s less talked about assets in the form of its art, rather than it’s oil.  

Beyond Persia, a small but feisty non-profit organization out of the Bay Area, hopes not only to boost the confidence (and wallets) of suffering artists by putting on elegant art exhibits in high profile areas for Americans to buy, but also to remind the Iranian American community to feel good about itself.  Their thesis is that only when we believe in our selves can we break cultural barriers and enter dominant ideology as something besides oil-rich terrorists with a bad attitude.

As a community, that has much to be proud of, but who’s psyche has taken a beating, we need this kind of shot in the arm, as a sort of over-due ‘cultural upgrade’ for ourselves.  It’s time we offered the world something fresh and new; we need our culture back, and we need to support the ones willing to step up!

We hope the community will join us, celebrate with us, take our pride back, and maybe even support the artists by buying their work.

The exhibit features the work of Contemporary Masters like Amir Salamat & Sara Rahbar who’s work can often be powerful and satirical, with a sense of humor.   Other artists in the show are Shiva Pakdel whose popular collages of Qajar men and women on board, always strikes a nerve with 1st generation Iranian Americans who straddle the difficult East/West/Old/New barrier with equivalent grace.   Highly talented emerging artists like Maneli Jodat, Taraneh Mina, Arien Valizadeh and respected Ceramic artist,  Babak Daleki will be on display and available for sale to the public from March 17th through March 30th, 2007. Comment

A special VIP Reception for the press, collectors, and those interested in previews will be held at 7-11PM on Saturday, March 17th, 2007 and will feature a rare acoustic performance by Persian/Flamenco master Emad Bonakdar and percussionist Mohamad Mohsenzadeh, at Gallery One, 1 Embarcadero, Lobby level, suite 1 EC, San Francisco, CA 94111. Tel. 415-392-3570.  FREE ADMISSION. Exhibit runs 17- 30th march. Contact for more information on the event and the artists.

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Lale’ Welsh Shahparaki



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