Artists Feel Painted Into a Corner in Baghdad, Likewise in Puerto Rico

Artists Feel Painted Into a Corner in Baghdad



Buen dia don Roberto



By Megan Greenwell Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page A19

BAGHDAD — Ultimately, it won’t be the constant threat of violence that drives celebrated ceramics artist Mahir Samarrai out of the place of his birth. When he finally, reluctantly moves out of Baghdad later this year, the cause will be much more mundane.


I spotted the above article on Iraq Today where I backtracked it to the Washington Post.
I found it somewhat revealing and I was able to sympathize with the artist being an artist myself.
Since the beginning of the two wars artists in Puerto Rico have taken a real beating. Many galleries have closed since then and many artist have either looked for work in other fields or have moved to the states to continue in art. The advent of the war caused many economic problems here on the island. As they say in the states, “ shit rolls downhill”.

Unfortunately Puerto Rico is on the downhill side as far as stateside money is concerned. Since the economy has turned from bad to worse in the states, even though the politicians will not admit it, in Puerto Rico you could say we went from the frying pan into the fire.

Because of the many changes here on the island since the start of the wars, mostly due to economic downtrends which were made worse by local politicians following stateside models, many people apart from artists have found it harder and harder to make that ever needed buck.
For those who have followed my blogs I have pointed out many of the things that have occurred and continue to take place almost on a daily basis on, “ La Isla Del Encanto “ . If it isn’t news about another manufacturer pulling up stakes to go elsewhere to get laborers that work for one or two bucks an hour ( no benefits of course ) then its news about yet another price hike on one thing or another not to mention regulatory measures that make it even harder on the working class to make ends meet.
I recall when I first moved here at the end of the 70‘s this island was alive and vibrant.
As an artist it reminded me of what Greenwich Village must have been like in the 50’s.
Piñones, my favorite haunt was thriving with life. Many who lived here will remember the many kiokos that lined the road as well as the Baldorioty de Castro by the Lagoon in the Condado. Back then the weekends were literally an adventure! How I miss those days!
Then change came, as it does everywhere, and not always for the better. Year by year one thing or another disappeared. The kioskos by the Lagoon were the first to go. Many of them were forced out and moved to the Piñones balneario only to be forced out of there too. Next came the colorful kioskos of Piñones itself. There used to be many roadside stands on highway 3 going out towards Luquillo which suffered the same fate. All under the guise of progress!

Then came the Malls. God knows how many lost their livelihood then. The Mall concept changed the face of the island. The Plaza, which was once the center of the town quickly disappeared to an empty collection of barren streets with closed businesses. Then the Plaza de Mercado’s began to go, replaced by big business supermarkets. The list is endless and continues to grow.
Then came the wars! Since their start the island has gone through even more changes. Many of our young have died in those wars and I know many more will die before they end. These wars have shown many here on the island that even though those wars are far, far away they have a profound effect on us all.
While I feel for Mahir Samarrai’s plight in Baghdad I feel for our people the same if not more. We don’t have real physical bombs dropping down around us but we do have economic and political bombs going off constantly which will bring about the same results.


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