Friday, October 31, 2014


 Richard Serra, "East-West,/West-East" in the Qatari desert
 Bookbinding workshop at Katara Cultural Village, Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 Maowia introducing Qatar's Most Famous Artist, Yousef Ahmad, at Al Markhiya Gallery at Katara, at the opening for Qatari artist Ahmed Kassim and Palestinian artist Dena Mattar, October 29, 2014
Meeting with Huda Abdulla Al Saadi, the Director of the Girls Creativity Center and Wasfy, Ceramics Teacher, in preparation for the two workshops I would conduct there a little later in the week, October 26, 2014. Maowia, Cultural Affairs Advisor from the U.S. Embassy and our intrepid escort, helps with communication.

Okay, all those hoping for more pictures than I was able to post during the visit, here is a very small selection (all photos courtesy of Bart, my personal assistant, without whom there would not be as many pictures as I usually have to show after a trip) just to give you a taste of the range of activities covered in just a few short days in Doha. Where to begin trying to describe how incredible this trip was? Exhilarating and exciting, fresh, eye opening, exotic, HOT, amazing, rich. Those are just a few words worthy of describing the experience. I have many people to thank for making sure everything went smoothly and that I got as much as I did out of this wonderful cultural exchange: the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith and her husband Ray, Maowia, Kristen (the cultural attaché), Huda, Abbie (no kidding, her name is Abi, or similar but says she will now perhaps change it to my spelling!), Wasfy, the Director of the Katara Art Center (whose name I unfortunately did not catch!), and of course many, many others. I was introduced to more wonderful people than I can possibly remember. So grateful for everyone's help and support.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sightseeing yesterday

I'm trying a second time today to post...hope I don't lose it again...Yesterday we drove to the west side of the one hour. We passed more construction, a small herd of camels, desert, more desert, then turned right at the Cuban Hospital, where thrroad splits. The reason  or  oing was to see, out in the middle of the desert, Richard Serra's majestic installation "east Meets West, West meets East." There is a short New Yorker from the April 14, 2014 issue that will telll you more. Google Richard Serra Doha desert. Then we went to the Museum of Islamic Art, housed inan I. M. Pei designed building. Stunning, both the building and the collection.   My favorite objects were the books and illustrated pages. Lots of gold leaf. After a rest and swim back at the hotel we were taken to the Souq, the location of the original and ongoing open "standing" market, a bit tourist oriented but containing many art galleries as well,  where we met Mohammed, an artist who has organized a major symposium for artists from around the world; he invited me to attend the one coming up in November, most expenses paid. I now have his business card for any interested artist to look into participating. I also have a really nice catalog from the one that took place earlier this year. We had a wonderful meal at an Iranian restaurant where I learned how to properly
pronounce the word taboulleh.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Library has been installed at the Ambassador's residence

Yesterday was a full day, starting with a full--and I mean FULL-- breakfast spread of anything you could imagine from around the world, from olives to smoked salmon to dragon fruit. We were picked up at 8:30 to go meet with the wonderful people who run the Girls Creativity Center, which is an art center for all ages and has facilities for painting, ceramics, calligraphy,, computer graphic design. This is where I will be giving the workshops tomorrow and Wednesday. After working out some details having to be ready with materials, we were then taken to the Ambassador's residence, where we found no fewer than 12 people waiting to help with the uncrating. The packing job proved to be impressive; there was only one small repair to be made. After some discussion about wall prep the two carpenters went off to get wood to hang the piece from. Kristen had arrived and we had a chance to admire the other art that had been installed last week. Everything looks fantastic. The rest of the install went smoothly. More later.Right now getting picked up to go the desert!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

We have arrived in Doha!

And has already been a rich experience. Everything feels new. The traveling to get here is now behind us and we are ready for the rich cultural experience. I am particularly looking forward to installing my piece tomorrow. We will shortly be going out for our first meal here; I think it needs to be Middle Eastern though there are many choices. After a few hours napping this morning after checking in to the hotel we took a long stroll along the Corniche, absorbing the amazing architecture, the recent and continuous construction, the unique fishing boats and especially the views of the skyline back toward the Four Seasons. Then we had to return for a swim in the very salty, bouyant Persian Gulf water. At first the heat was a little shocking, coming from Maine's coolong fall temperatures, but we got used to it, continuing to drink plenty of water.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Countdown to Qatar: One week!

It hardly seems real that a week from tomorrow we will be on our direct flight to Qatar from Philadelphia. We had some friends over last night for dinner, one of whom is from Jordan. He told us to expect a lot of heat! Which we knew of course, but he emphasized it...Just as it is cooling off here in the north it will be very hot in the Persian Gulf. Can't quite imagine that but I can imagine we will be indoors a lot; I hope to sit on a beach for a bit at our hotel! It looks like I may be giving a presentation to an art class at Virginia Commonwealth University which has a branch in Doha. This is going to be so exciting and different, I just can't wait for the trip to be underway and to meet Dana Shell Smith, our recently appointed US Ambassador to Qatar.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Countdown to Qatar: Ten days!

For some reason I couldn't add text to my last post. What you're seeing is the art transport van and Flo and Angel packing up Library to send it on its way to Qatar for the Art in Embassies exhibition. What professionals! I have no worries that the panels will arrive safely as they were packed in bubble wrap then surrounded by cardboard then they will be crated for further protection. As long as they don't sit in the hot desert sun (some parts might melt due to the wax I use here and there) they'll be fine.
Spent last week getting ready for my annual two day Open Studio event as part of the Belfast Creative Coalition Farm and Art Tour. Saturday was slow, due, I think, to the dark and cool day but Sunday was fantastic. Sunny blue sky and warm sun brought lots of people out and I saw old friends as well as new. The studio is packed right now with new work from the summer and early fall. It's great to have a way to share it with those interested enough to make the trip to Appleton.
This week the lovely people who are making the arrangements for the Artist Exchange, Welmoed and Kristen (as well as many others, I'm sure!), will be working on my itinerary for the days I'll be in Qatar so I should know shortly what my responsibilities will be. I've been lucky enough to meet a great couple here who lived recently in Doha and they have been sharing their thoughts, including reassuring me that Qatar Airlines will treat us very well on the flight over! Now I'm actually looking forward to the flights!