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The Spin I’m In: From Baghdad to Big Shoulders

Mohammed Alqassim - Waiting
Mohammed Alqassim – Waiting
(Click image or link to view slideshow)

When I was in Chicago over Christmas, I went to a not for profit art gallery called Iraqi Art that a friend of mine told me about that sells paintings by Baghdad artists hit hard by the war. I wasn’t going there to buy the art necessarily, I was just going to check it out and to meet the gallery owner Charles Trimbach who has made this a life mission. I really didn’t know what to expect, but the art was so damned good that I ended up getting a painting that I absolutely love.

The “Journey” of how this gallery/project/labor of love came to be is quite fascinating. It stemmed from the plight of a Baghdad artist collective that had nowhere to show or sell their art. Three years later, this Chicago gallery is filled with fabulous paintings, (at unbelievably reasonable prices) that arrive rolled up in tubes, and then are stretched out at the gallery. Iraqi Art has a tri-fold mission:

“ A. Humanitarian– To provide an income to the 40+ artists we support who live in Baghdad. They receive 65% of the sale of their paintings. The money is sent directly to the artist or their designated representative via Western Union.

B. Cultural exchange/ education– To provide Americans with an alternative perspective of the Iraqi people and their culture than what is portrayed in the general media. We do this, not only through exhibitions at our Chicago gallery, as well as other venues across the country, but through lectures and speaking engagements at Universities, public institutions and public events.

C. Good will ambassadors– To provide an alternative view of the American people to Iraqis. Iraqis need to know that there are many Americans who care deeply about their plight, and who want to help.”

As a non-profit organization, to keep operating Iraqi Art depends on alternative sources of funding such as grants, sponsorship, and private donations. This project needs our support, people. If you would like to buy some beautiful art or just sponsor a very worthy cause, please visit their website www.iraqi-art.com.

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Donita Sparks

Donita Sparks

Donita Sparks is a singer/songwriter living in Los Angeles, CA. Her first solo record, Transmiticate, has been released nationwide and a US tour is booked for Spring and Summer 2008. Donita is also the co-founder and front person of the rock band L7 who have released six studio albums.

Her original scores can be heard in the upcoming feature film The Life of Reilly starring Charles Nelson Reilly and in online projects for Activision and Microsoft. In 1991 Sparks and L7 formed Rock For Choice with the Feminist Majority Foundation staging numerous concerts benefiting pro-choice organizations.
Donita has been a contributing writer at Firedoglake since July 2006 with her music column The Spin I’m In.

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