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Art, Culture Show Opens in Doura

Sgt. David Hodge, 4th Infantry Division

An Iraqi artist displays his painting at the Doura Art and Culture Show in the Rashid District of southern Baghdad, Nov. 26, 2008. Photo by Maj. David Olson, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs.

FOB FALCON — Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers joined artists, musicians and Iraqi citizens to celebrate the premier of an art exhibition, Nov. 26, in the Rashid District of southern Baghdad.

The Iraq artists assembled more than 100 artworks at the Doura Technical College to showcase their ability in the local community, an epicenter of commerce for the eastern Rashid area.

Community leaders and local patrons filled rooms prepared with paintings, sculptures and photographs portraying the exhibition’s theme: “New Life, New Culture.”

Doura, a neighborhood with a notorious reputation for its intense sectarian violence, saw credible progress since the arrival of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, in November 2007, said Lt. Col. Timothy Watson, commander of the “Warrior” Battalion, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

“We think the event shows incredible work by the people of Doura to bring the community back to life,” stated Watson, a San Diego native. “We are hopeful the progress here will continue.”

Watson described the art show as the pinnacle of social events in his area of operations.

“Thanks to the hard efforts of Capt. Brett Walker and cooperation with the 1st BCT Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, we’ve been working towards this in Doura for the last 12 months,” said Watson.

The EPRT team played a crucial role in identifying important details of the show, said Walker, an infantry officer assigned to the 2nd Bn., 4th Inf. Regt, who serves as the information operations officer. The Soldiers offered their assistance to facilitate the five-day event; however, it remains an Iraqi-led event.

“The people of Rashid are ready for art; they are ready for a sophisticated reputation,” added Walker, who hails from Mill Valley, Calif. “It’s a new national identity that will endure for ages.”

Faruq Fu’ad Rafiq Hamdani, a featured artist and event organizer, said he believes everybody continually worked hard to set up for the art and culture show.

It took Hamdani 20 days to prepare supplies and artwork for the show. He said he credits the exhibition to the true efforts of both Iraqis and Coalition forces, adding that the Iraqi people are in need of a place to relieve stress and tiredness.

“These places need to be full of color, exhibition, and true happiness,” he explained.

Hashem Mahmood, the deputy chairman of the Rashid District Counsel, said the variety of artwork served as a canvas for the Iraqi people’s concerns.

“This is what Iraqis are all about,” explained Mahmood. “We have security, so we can have the art show.”

The Doura Art and Culture Show is scheduled to remain open for five days, and buyers can purchase the artwork on the last day of the event.

(By Sgt. David Hodge, 4th Infantry Division)

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