Qaddafi Art

Who knew?  Moammar Qaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi is an artist.

The website for his exhibition “The desert is not silent” is long defunct, but Facebook still has some links, and there are still photos of the March 2010 Moscow showing on the website of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.

The exhibit is said to be a mix of archaeological artifacts and paintings from contemporary artists, including 50 paintings by Saif al-Islam himself.  It’s not clear which ones they are, but he is said to use bright colors.

I’m not much for representational art, but I rather like the orange one with the sun.

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Other peoples’ photos

Photos of icebergs. Interesting way to display multiple photos. For a portfolio, the usual online advice says to show ten or twelve max, but this one shows fifteen.

Moon, Venus, and sunrise over Liechtenstein. A taste of romanticism, the sublimity of untamed nature.

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Books and museums

Free books online, Canahan’s true life Wikileaks prose, and virtual art museums.

Kindle for PC

You don’t need a Kindle anymore to read books in Kindle format. You can now download Kindle for PC at Amazon for free. You can also download free kindle books from Amazon.  (Search tips here.) Unfortunately, Amazon won’t let me download because it says I haven’t registered the software.

No problem.  You can also download free books from:

Project Gutenberg
Google Books
Internet Archive
Free Kindle Books has downloads listed by author.
Also try Poetry In Translation—I was able to download texts of some of Lorca’s lectures about writing and “duende”.
IRreaderReview has a huge list of resources, Kindle and otherwise.

I don’t really care for this Kindle format though, not sure why.  Maybe it’s the ten-inch screen I usually work with and the need for so much scrolling.

So then I tried…

Scanned books.

I see ( via Marginal Revolution) that:

The total literature of Iceland is under 50,000 books, which is easily scannable in 2 years by 12 people using the scribe scanners of the Internet Archive.  Indeed they might put it all on-line.

I also see that I can read a scanned version of a book at Hmmm, let’s check out camp Fu Fanchu author  Sax Rohmer….very nice, I haven’t read this one yet, …and it almost feels like you’re turning the pages of a book printed in 1921. I really hate reading Google books, but this I like. Surely there must be a way to download it to read offline, but I haven’t found it yet. (Wait. Yes. Click on it and you have the option to download as PDF…)

Wikileaks true adventure

Canahan has finally dug up the sample of exemplary Wikileaks prose that he talked about earlier, a US cable on a wedding in Dagestan:

Gadzhi’s Kaspiysk summer house is an enormous structure on the shore of the Caspian, essentially a huge circular reception room — much like a large restaurant — attached to a 40-meter high green airport tower on columns, accessible only by elevator, with a couple of bedrooms, a reception room, and a grotto whose glass floor was the roof of a huge fish tank.

This reads like a combination of James Bond and the Godfather. I can hardly wait for the movie. And think of the sequels….


Now you can walk through world-class virtual museums like the Uffizi in Florence and  London’s National Gallery at Art Project. “Walk around” the museum and zoom in on the artworks.

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The blue handed Virgin of Madaba

A trip that Canahan made to an art exhibition in Bruges has inadvertently solved a mystery involving a miraculous Virgin in Jordan.

The Virgin in question is at St. George Greek Orthodox church in Madaba, Jordan, my spiritual home when in Jordan. (I wrote about it here.) The Virgin has been credited with healing miracles and is said to be sought out by Moslems as well as Christians. Two hands hold the Christ child and a third blue hand was discovered to have appeared on the painting one day after a church service.  No one knows how long it was there before the discovery. There seems to be fire shooting out of her thumb.

I searched all over for an explanation of the “blue hand”, but now it turns out the original hand was silver, not blue, and the name of the original image was the Tricheroussa, or three-handed virgin.Here’s the connection with the art exhibition:

Canahan’s art exhibition at Bruges featured  a 1506 wood relief sculpture of St. Luke Drawing Mary by Jacob Beinhart.   There is a tradition that St. Luke painted both Mary and Jesus, but Canahan notes a reference saying: “This has been proved incorrect.” Checking further, I found that the “Guild of Saint Luke” was a common name for painters’ guilds in Europe’s Low Countries.  Saint John of Damascus of the Monsour family–that name should be familiar, in Jordan as well as Chicago–was the one who credited St. John with painting the Virgin’s portrait. Wikipedia tells the rest of the story:

In the early 8th century AD, iconoclasm, a movement seeking to prohibit the veneration of the icons, gained some acceptance in the Byzantine court. In 726, despite the protests of St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Emperor Leo III issued his first edict against the veneration of images and their exhibition in public places. A talented writer in the secure surroundings of the caliph’s court, John of Damascus initiated a defense of holy images in three separate publications. “Apologetic Treatises against those Decrying the Holy Images”, the earliest of these works gained him a reputation. Not only did he attack the emperor, but the use of a simpler literary style brought the controversy to the common people, inciting revolt among those of Christian faith. His writings later played an important role during the Second Council of Nicaea which met to settle the icon dispute.

To counter his influence, Leo III sent forged documents implicating John of Damascus in a plot to attack Damascus to the caliph. The caliph did not suspect the forgery, and ordered John’s right hand to be cut off and hanged publicly. Some days afterwards, John asked that his hand be given back to him, which was granted. He prayed fervently to the Theotokos in front of her icon, and his hand was supposedly miraculously restored. Being grateful for this healing, he attached a silver hand on this icon, which is since then known as “Three-handed”, or Tricherousa.

Yeah, right, “Obedezco pero no complo“.  A most excellent miracle, indeed.  Then John stops his rabble-rousing and retires to a monastery, and all is copacetic.

So here she is, the Tricherousa, a three handed icon that was sent originally from St. John’s Mar Sabbas monastery east of Jerusalem to a Serbian Orthodox church in Greece, then was introduced to Moscow, and from there widely copied.

Somewhere along the line, the three-handed virgin made to Madaba,  but now with a blue hand shooting fire, and a tradition of healing so powerful that her icon needs a glass case with padlocks.

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Calder’s Flamingo at the Federal Building at 230 S. Dearborn in Chicago. Photos were taken July 18, 2010.

The work stands in a small plaza that is frequently used for demonstrations and political gatherings. This area is in the south loop area, and has always given me the sort of look-over-your-shoulder feeling of the South Side.  But when it is filled with a crowd, it has an intimate connected feeling, with the patterns of the impersonal city rising in the background like the walls of a protective canyon.

After considering it from afar in the context of its urban space (and shaking a mental fist at the frequent cloud cover), I walk up to it  and try to interact with it in three dimensions.  Carrying a camera seems to make me look at it differently, as color, texture, geometry, light.

Paha Ska Painting

Susan Salway has very kindly sent me a photograph of what she describes as “a very large buffalo hide painting done by Paha Ska in the late 1980’s that I refurbished”.  Her husband was the late Orville Francis Salway, the Lakota artist known as “Paha Ska”.  I met Paha Ska years ago and wrote about him in this post.

For a larger (and slower loading) file of the same image, that you can zoom in on, click here.

She says it’s a large one, about 7′x9′, and yes, it’s for sale.

Here are some more details from the painting:

Susan Salway blogs at and she is on Facebook.