Art in U.S. Embassies Exhibition

Shiney Moon included in Bucharest U.S. Embassy Exhibition: The Museum of Modern Art first envisioned the idea of a global visual arts program, and in 1963, President John F. Kennedy formalized it. Today, with more than 200 venues, ART In Embassies curates temporary and permanent exhibitions for the representational spaces of all U.S. chanceries, consulates, and embassy residences worldwide, selecting and commissioning contemporary art from the U.S. and the host countries. According to the U.S. State Department, “these exhibitions provide international audiences with a sense of the quality, scope, and diversity of both countries’ art and culture, establishing AIE’s presence in more countries than any other U.S. foundation or arts organization.” AIE’s exhibitions allow foreign citizens, many of whom might never travel to the United States, to personally experience the depth of American art. Through a culturally expansive mission, the ART in Embassies program plays a vital role in our nation’s public diplomacy. The images below, by Dixie Art Colony artist Carlos Alpha "Shiney" Moon, were included in the exhibition.

ART in Embassies: by Ambassador Mark H. Gitenstein
The art we have chosen for the Ambassador’s Residence in Bucharest is from the southern United States. We selected these landscapes for several reasons: first, my wife, Libby, and I wanted to feature American art that reminded us of the terrain and culture of Romania. We wanted to show Romanians visiting our home in Bucharest that the United States, especially the southern United States, looks a lot like Romania. The rich verdant hills and mountains of Transylvania remind us of the mountains of the western Carolinas (particularly in the works by Phil Garrett and Carl Blair). Indeed, this was surely one of the reasons that the producers of the movie Cold Mountain chose Romania as the site for shooting this 2003 classic. The works by the Bayou Art Colony (especially those of Carlos Alpha "Shiney" Moon) reminded us of the stark beauty of the Danube Delta. The fragile Mandy's Shanty could be a Roma house and Day’s Haul could as easily be in Sulina at the mouth of the Danube as it is in Bayou La Batre, Alabama.

Second, this exhibition is built around two men who influenced me, both southerners. Mark B. Coplan of Columbia, South Carolina, was a dear friend of mine and Libby’s whom we met while attending Duke University. Mark was the premier art collector of his generation in South Carolina. His unexpected death in 2002 not only shocked us but cut short the life of a man of culture and warmth, who would undoubtedly have become one of America’s great collectors. Although the works by Blair, Garrett, Hutty, and Williams were not part of Mark’s collection, the artists were among his favorites. The second man, Carlos Alpha “Shiney” Moon was an artist from my hometown of Florala, Alabama. I grew up seeing his paintings in homes in Florala. Indeed, his wife, Sadie, gave us a “Shiney” as a wedding gift. I paint watercolors in my spare time and it wasn’t until I saw this selection of originals hanging in our living room in Bucharest, that I realized what a subconscious impact his coastal landscapes had on my taste in art. To me, these landscapes of his, so like the Danube Delta, are “home.” These similarities of terrain, as well as the fact that I am Romanian-American, stand as evidence to all who visit the Residence that our roots actually intertwine.

Written by: Ambassador Mark Gitenstein and Mrs. Libby Gitenstein
Bucharest, Romania, August 2011

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