A Moment with Persian Art at Latitude 53 – Edmonton, Alberta – 23 October 2014

On a particularly fine autumn day in Edmonton, I continued to thread my way through downtown construction that seems to be almost everywhere in this capital city that is home to me, and to major economic and cultural manifestations of the Canada I live in.

Kioumars Pourhaydari - The North-east Wind (Courtesy: the artist and Latitude 53)

Kioumars Pourhaydari – The North-east Wind (Courtesy: the artist and Latitude 53)

I wanted to see the small but enticing Persian exhibit of locally produced Iranian art, Land of Love, that had been mounted at Latitude 53, which has been integrating art and society in Edmonton and beyond since 1973. Two creations particularly struck me. One was the calligraphic piece by Kioumars Pourhaydari on a ghazal by Hafiz on the north-east wind. As a writer, I have long been influenced by the work of Hafiz; and as an arts administrator I first became entranced by the particular power of calligraphy when Chinese Imperial examples of it were central to the Mandate of Heaven travelling exhibit at the Vancouver Museum in 1997, when I was its executive director.

The second, so suitably of the season, was Fariba Satarri’s of the beauty of autumn, far away in place if not in heart, of the Sisangan forest in northern Iran.

Fariba Satarri - Autumn (Courtesy: the artist and Latitude 53)

Fariba Satarri – Autumn (Courtesy: the artist and Latitude 53)

There was a two man band (guitar and drums, the drummer also a saxophonist) rehearsing – staggeringly, walls of Jericho, loud – the drummer when on tenor saxophone filling in the harmonies rather nicely. But the tune of the song colonizing the gallery was rather good and and its staying power rested firmly in my mind for some time, not unpleasantly, afterwards.

Executive director (and Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton colleague) Todd Janes had just returned to Edmonton from Ottawa, as it happened on the morning of the day of the attack at the War Memorial and in Parliament; and he and I had a short, if environmentally disconnected, discussion in the interludes of quiet, when the band reviewed its material – at which times Todd’s much milder radio came into sonic evidence. I asked about the presence of a gift of a bottle of unopened South African Amarula that was placed on his desk. I thought for a moment that he perhaps stared at it, however briefly, somewhat longingly.

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