Iran may have a chance to warm relations with the United States through art!

Sent by: Rosemary Levin

Dear Shirin--I've copied the article for you.== My particular museum was 
the Museum of Contemporary Art. I interviewed famous artists from throughout 
the world--David Hockney, etc., wrote biographies and descriptions of their 
work for the archives. What a wonderful place!==Rosemarye 


Government approval was needed for a new major art show, ``A Breeze from the Gardens of Persia,'' which includes 89 paintings, accompanied by six artists and Director A.R. Sami Azar of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. 

U.S.-Iran relations have been strained since Iranians seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 21 years ago and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. 

President Mohammad Khatami tries to move closer to the West, but hard-liners in the government often frustrate him. The elaborate catalogue of the show thanks both Iran's Ministry of Culture and the U.S. State Department for their help. 

Political art is noticeably absent from the exhibit. 

``There was much more interest in politics among artists in the first decade after our revolution, in the 1980s,'' Azar said in an interview. ``Now they are much more interested in other things - abstractions, Expressionism, influences from all over the world.'' 

The show opened Friday at Meridian International Center, one of the capital's most elegant display sites. It was formerly home to the late Eugene Meyer, who headed the Federal Reserve Board under President Franklin Roosevelt. 

Next month there will be Iranian classical, folk and new-age jazz concerts at the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University. The Library of Congress has scheduled a reading and discussion of Iranian poetry; the Corcoran Gallery of Art will also host a concert; the Textile Museum will sponsor a lecture on Persian carpets. 

An effort was made to set up special showings of Iranian films, which have been highly praised by American critics, but organizers reported a lack of interest from commercial movie houses. 

'``A Breeze from the Gardens of Persia' shows the impact of cultures on one another,'' wrote Amir H. Zekrgoo, the curator who accompanied the exhibit. ``While the world grows smaller and the existence of the global village becomes more and more evident, efforts to retain identity of cultures seem increasingly important. Contemporary art in Iran, registering the conditions of its age, reflects the need of mankind for both unity and diversity.'' 

At the start of this year, Khatami called for a ``Dialogue of Civilizations'' as a way to improve relations with the rest of the world. That's also the title of a painting in the show by Saeed Gholami, which makes many allusions to Western art. 

Angels in the picture look just like those in Italian paintings of 500 years ago, and so does an image of Jesus on the cross. A small Greek temple stands in the middle. A despairing little man holding his head in his hands reproduces a well-known image by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. 

``I have tried to find a particular language using suitable methods combined with my personal perspectives, ''Gholami wrote. 

The exhibit is supported by Exxon Mobil Corp. and by the Boeing Co. and DaimlerChrysler. 

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