In "Palestine," visitors are invited to reflect on their own connection to historic Palestine, be it direct, ephemeral or matter-of-fact when reflecting upon the palimpsest (the country beneath Israel) in the making 1948-2015, and the works in the show, by Ramsey Chahine, John Halaka, Khalid Hussein, Najat El-Taji El-Khairy, and father and son artists, Jodet Shuquem and R.k. Shuquem.
RAMSEY CHAHINE Influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Picasso and Marc Chagall among others, Ramsey Chahine is a young and prolific artist whose work is playful yet often profound. His paintings express a love of life, as well as a passionate curiosity about the meaning of things. In 2014 the Levantine Cultural Center's Inside/Outside Gallery presented Chahine's one-man show, "The Poison Is the Cure," featuring more than 25 mixed media paintings and sculptures. A Lebanese-Palestinian American, Ramsey was born in Redondo Beach, California. He currently works in New York City.
JOHN HALAKA John Halaka is an activist artist whose creative work serves as a vehicle for meditation on personal, cultural and political concerns. He creates images that raise questions, for himself as well as for the viewer, about some of the pressing issues of our time. His experiences as an artist of Palestinian descent shape his pictorial investigations of cycles of repression and displacement as well as the personal and political relationship between desire, denial and instability. His recent work in both painting and documentary filmmaking investigates issues of identity construction from personal, familial and political perspectives. "Through my work, I attempt to initiate a dialogue with the viewer that could hopefully instigate transformation, one person at a time. This effort is best summarized by James Baldwin's eloquent observation. "When circumstances are made real by another's testimony, it becomes possible to envision change."
The Inside/Outside Gallery in partnership is pleased to present "One," 25 new and recent works by independent artist Salma Arastu, in the spirit of poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī—paintings that reflect external beauty and an internal desire for peace. The exhibition opened February 27 and has been extended through May 8. A reception for the artist took place Friday, Feb. 27, 6 to 10 pm. Gallery hours are 10 am-6 pm and by appointment. This exhibition is an initiative of Muslims for Progressive Values and is cosponsored by MPV.
"Have you ever heard the rippling sound of waters, humming winds and thundering clouds? Have you watched the hands of a tabla man and the moving feet of a Bharat Natyam dancer? Have you ever felt the urge of pure love, the satisfaction of sharing and giving? That same rhythm, rich classical music, selfless love or a moonlit night, I wish I could absorb and not miss a single detail then pour it all on my canvas." —Salma Arastu
This exhibit is entitled "One" in honor of Salma Arastu's mother, who inspired her deeply. ""My mother, a very spiritual person, believed in one God, who is the source of all life on this earth and beyond. Even though she was a practicing Hindu, she often said that we are the children of the same God and there is no difference between Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Jews. I am grateful to her for planting those thoughts in my young mind as today I am married to a Muslim and I have crossed the boundaries of religions."
Salma Arastu is San Francisco Bay Area painter, sculptor and poet who born in Rajasthan, India. She has been creating and exhibiting her paintings internationally since graduating with a Masters degree in Fine Arts from MS University, Baroda, India in 1975. Her work with continuous and lyrical line is influenced by her native culture and her residence after marriage in Iran and Kuwait before coming to the US in 1987.
Born into the Sindhi, Hindu tradition in her native India, she later embraced Islam through her marriage. At birth, Ms. Arastu was given the life-defining challenge of a left hand without fingers. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, she was able to transcend the barriers often set-forth in the traditions of religion, culture and the cultural perceptions of handicap.
Friends of Middle Eastern and North African cultures, we are grateful for your support. As we come to the end of another year we wish you very Happy Holidays and a brighter, more peaceful 2015. Thank you for your friendship, encouragement and participation, and your interest in making the Levantine Cultural Center the premiere forum in presenting a vast repertoire of exciting performances, interesting exhibitions, and relevant and timely lectures.
Below you'll find a breakdown of the more than 69 public programs we presented in 2014.
Since 2001, the Levantine Cultural Center has earned its reputation as a welcoming haven where thousands of people-whether they come through our doors, or watch our events online-have the opportunity to become acquainted with some the world's most engaging words, images and music, as well as to engage with the plethora of complex issues facing the region...and thus the world.
By presenting artists and musicians, authors and poets, thinkers and philosophers, the Levantine Cultural Center strives to demystify the rich and rewarding cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, and to introduce them to the American mainstream. Our goal is as it ever was: to showcase the region's arts and cultures, and to abrade the corrosive effects of cultural and political misunderstanding and mistrust through the beauty and power of arts and letters.
Our vision is to extend our impact by connecting even more people, and to help realize that dream, we are thrilled to advise you of our plan, for what many would consider a rebirth, for a newer and larger home, one that is more conducive to fulfilling our mission. Many of you know that the Levantine Cultural Center outgrew its current space a long time ago. To continue our meaningful work with more programs for a growing community, we must expand both our facility and our staff.
Therefore, with excited determination, we are embarking on a capital campaign to facilitate, concretely, our ability to serve with distinction one of the largest Middle Eastern diaspora communities in the world. To continue as the only truly progressive and inclusive center for Middle Eastern and North African cultures, we seek to raise $1 million to ensure that as individuals who care about peace and progress, we will have a center—a markaz—that empowers both Middle Easterners and non-Middle Easterners to connect, to unite and to inform greater Los Angeles of the marvels and humanities of the region.
We welcome your continued support.
2014: Our Year in Review
Art (6 exhibitions)
War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East
a new group exhibit explores the affects of war and exile in diaspora
Out of Egypt: Master Painted Mohamed Khedr exhibition
Fast Forward: A Talk on Arab and Iranian Typography, with Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi
Dorood: New Art From Iran exhibition
Ramsey Chahine: the Poison is the Cure exhibition
By Jordan Elgrably
Following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the end of the Second World War, the map of the Middle East and North Africa has been rewritten by colonialism, war and internecine conflict.
Whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran, the first and second Gulf War in Iraq, the invasions of Afghanistan, or the Lebanese Civil War, millions of people have been displaced. Millions more have seen their lives changed forever with the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria that began in 2010.
In the 21st century, it is easy for us to forget that World War I was said to be "the war to end all wars." Here I am, writing on the 100th anniversary of that brutal conflagration that killed over 15 million combatants and civilians in Europe.
The Levantine Cultural Center (LCC) showcases a new exhibition, War and People: Art, Exile and the Middle East, focused on contemporary art and artifacts gathered from artists, war refugees and their children. The exhibit focuses on the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Israel-Palestine Wars of 1948 and 1967, the Lebanon Civil War (1975-1990), and the Syrian War (2011-2014), and also includes a spoken word evening, "Poets on War and People" on Dec. 4, 2014. More here. Artists include Melissa Chimera, Fadia Afashe, John Halaka, Kinda Hibrawi, Khalid Hussein and Kaveh Keshmiri.
Featuring a mix of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish artists and contributors, the exhibition and its related events present an intriguing dialogue between art, artists and their audiences, providing a forum for contrasting perspectives, such as how Iraqi and Iranian artists remember the 1980-1988 war.
Originally scheduled to open November 1, 2014, the exhibition opens with a reception for the artists on November 21, and runs through December 31, 2014. War and People is a featured exhibition in the LA Islam Arts Initiative.
A related program, "Poets on War and People" takes place Dec. 4, 2014. More info here.
Curator Jordan Elgrably is a writer/editor and producer, who has presented dozens of art exhibitions, concerts, literary programs, and theatre, film, and public conversations on the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa.
The Inside/Outside Gallery is pleased to present the first American solo show for Egyptian master painter Mohamed Khedr, featuring 40 works on canvas and paper, Oct 4-Oct.26, 2014, with an extended closing reception on Sunday, Nov. 16, 5-7 pm, at 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035.
Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 am-6 pm, and Sat/Sun by appointment only, 310.657.5511. The work is also on view evenings during scheduled events, on Nov. 5 and 6.
In this series, Mohamed Khedr marries impressionism techniques with his expressionist interpretations to capture emotion, sound, and scents in a way that other artists have rarely attempted. When you look at the paintings, you don't just see a magnificent use of color and talent, you are also transported into the scene where you can feel the wind, hear the commotion, smell the environment.
Fast Forward, Arabic & Iranian Typography: A New Visual Vocabulary in the Making
[LOS ANGELES-May 29, 2014] From a design perspective, what do we really know about the Arab world, or Iraq's neighbor, Iran? A window into these cultures, which use the Arabic script for writing and design, will open here in Los Angeles on June 26, 2014, when LOCAL NOT LOCAL, a modern collection of contemporary expression, brings Arabic and Iranian typography and calligraphy to the Inside/Outside Gallery at the Levantine Cultural Center. These days it seems like everyone's got a favorite font and a philosophy of typography. But it's not just our Roman alphabet that gets translated into different shapes - all over the world, designers pick and choose scripts to suit the occasion. In LOCAL NOT LOCAL, co-curators Maece Seirafi and Pouya Jahanshahi present a collection of award-winning Arab and Iranian designers who demonstrate the creative possibilities and expressions that lurk in their native alphabets.