Karen Gunderson


During the spring of 2010, I received a call from Rachel Graaf of the American Embassy in Bahrain who asked me if I would be interested in having an exhibition of my works at the National Museum of Bahrain (BNM).  My paintings were already on loan at the Ambassador’s Residence through the Art in Embassies program, and I was extremely excited about the possibility of exhibiting more of my paintings in the midst of a region so widely discussed in the news for its innovations. After the funding came through we began to plan the exhibition.  I made two paintings as a gesture of friendship to Bahrain, one a constellation painting and the other a water painting. The constellation painting, Ramadan, 2011, is based on the future celestial alignment of the stars on August 1, 2011 (which is the first day of Ramadan) as seen from Bahrain. The second painting, Bridge Into The Night, furthered the notion of international collaboration and comradeship since Rachel kindly sent me the source image for the painting: the causeway to Saudi Arabia.

After the initial call, Rachel and Janan Shaikh Shabdullaj sent me a blueprint of the museum exhibition space, which was impressively large. With the space in mind I moved forward with the exhibition design.  Due to the nature of my paintings and the specific lighting they require, I worried the lighting would be problematic, but still, I was getting more and more excited.

It was then time to think about the logistics: finding a shipping agent and getting a plane ticket.  At first, we had difficulty finding an international shipper within budget and it didn’t seem like the show was going to happen. Then, several weeks later, Rachel said the exhibition was a go and suggested we use Racine Berkow Associates (RBA) for the shipping and I should go ahead and buy my ticket. I arranged to be in Bahrain from October 26th to November 13th, which was a couple days longer than we originally anticipated, but it was the most reasonably priced business ticket available on a plane that carried an American flag. (Because I have two knee replacements, business class was necessary for such a long flight.)

Next, we had to think about the catalogue. We decided on a black and white catalogue because, after all, the paintings are black and it would keep the printing costs down. With great good fortune, the writer and poet John Yau, agreed to write the catalogue essay. It is a powerful essay and I am honored to be the recipient of his kind and brilliant words. I personally purchased 250 catalogues for my own archival purposes and had them printed on heavier, more substantial paper.

Then came the time for prepping and wrapping the paintings.  Each painting was examined thoroughly, glazed if needed, wrapped with polyurethane, bubble wrap and then soft packed with cardboard.  With the help of two assistants, it took our team of three about two weeks of solid preparation to get all 29 paintings wrapped and ready to ship.

The shipper sent a representative to look at the work we had accomplished and he told Andrea Gaines of RBA that the paintings were in perfect shape for travel.  A few days later they came to pick up the works and with the help of my assistants, loaded the truck and were on their way!

I left New York on October 25th and arrived in Bahrain one day later.  It was a nice flight and I managed to walk the many miles at my connecting airport in Heathrow to the plane to Bahrain.  After I got off the plane in Bahrain and walked down the corridor I was met by a man dressed in white robes holding a sign with my name.  It was such a wonderful welcome to be greeted by Mr. Mubarak Moh’d Taher.  I felt very special.  He took me to a room filled with portraits of men dressed in white thobes and keffiyehs.  There, a gentleman brought me a choice of water and juices. Mr. Taher or Mubarak which is the name he gave me permission to call him, handled all of the official papers, helped me collect my luggage, and introduced me to the man who would be my driver, Kamel. Kamel spoke little English and I spoke no Arabic, but I managed to learn he was married with three gorgeous children.  (He gave me a very sweet photograph of his children when he took me to the airport for the last time.)  He drove me to my hotel, the Golden Tulip, where I checked in and instantly fell asleep.

The next morning, October 27th, Kamel met me and we drove to the National Museum of Bahrain.  At the museum I met BNM director, Mr. Fouad Noor and Ms. Zakeya Ahmed, Head of the Educational Programs.  When I met Zakeya, I felt like I was meeting an old friend, and she became the kind of friend that I feel is like family during my stay in Bahrain.  She is an amazing and extremely competent woman. Within minutes of meeting her, I had agreed to conduct a number of workshops, one of which was to be focused on clouds for The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) students. (I painted clouds for almost 22 years before I began my black paintings.) I also met Muneera Bubshait who was Zakeya’s assistant. Muneera kindly helped me with the installation and subsequent workshops, and took me to places in Bahrain that gave me insights into life there...including meeting her family from Saudi Arabia.  I then met the amazing Janan Shaikh Shabdullaj. She is from Bahrain and works in the American Embassy. The Embassy is so lucky to have her. We had Arabic coffee together, which I enjoyed immensely.

Originally, I thought there would be only a few workshops, but by trips end I had conducted many more than originally anticipated.  There were two kinds of workshops, which I hope will clarify any mention of GLOBE or Energy workshops throughout this narrative report. The GLOBE workshops, mostly attended by high school students, were about clouds, in both the literal and abstract sense.  Since some young men and women were in the same class, I tried encouraging co-ed teamwork, but it didn’t happen.

The class involved students drawing and painting clouds on a 60-inch high paper that was wrapped around the room...covering three walls.  We began by talking about different cloud types and the varying heights at which they appear. We talked about the energy that it would take to paint a cloud.  Imagining touching a cloud up close would be like feeling a mist.  How would one make one’s had move with the paint to show that. To begin I started by drawing large cumulus nimbus clouds with vine charcoal.  This excited them and they took to the paper immediately. I demonstrated some technical skills, like how to create illusionary depth by shading the edge of a cloud to make it appear to be in front of another one.  By the end of the GLOBE sessions, the students were using house paint which worked very effectively.  Some of the students were really good!  Also during the GLOBE workshop I told them about my belief of artist being shamen, which I think they found intriguing.  Especially when I shared with them the fact that every time I have had a cloud exhibition in the U.S., it has rained or snowed. They reminded me with amused pragmatism that we were in a desert and it wasn’t the rainy season. After that first session, to everyone’s amazement, Bahrain received a surprise torrential rainstorm.

The Energy workshops are something I taught in my foundations classes at MICA.  The concept is to both express and perceive the individual energy one uses when making marks on a surface.  Using vine charcoal, I had each person make a line using very slow, very soft pressure. Then, I had them use compressed charcoal to make a line using very fast, hard pressure. When they were done, I had them look at their work and remember how it felt to make the varying marks.  They then went to another person’s lines and experienced the energy difference.  Then they used as many parameters they could…fast rounded, slow rounded, fast jagged, slow, medium zigzag and on.  They made as many different kinds of marks with as many different paramaters of energies as we could think of. Then I asked them to imagine something they would like to draw and using just a single contour line, imagine they were touching whatever they were holding in their minds eye with a continuous stroke.  It was interesting how the energy varied depending on the object.  The line of a child’s head was drawn softly, the bark of a palm tree was rough and hard, and a car was smooth and medium energy.   I also taught them about interior contour lines. With the kind help of Muneera, and a kind gentleman dressed in a thobe, I used black masking tape to delineate her face and her arms to show the interior contours of her form and the drapery of his thobe.  Then I asked her and him to raise their arms and move around so people could see the taped line moving in different directions, forcing a new perspective based on their movement in space.

One of the teachers asked me what I would like them to take back to their classrooms.  I said I wanted them to help each child discover what their natural energy was and to help them feel good about exploring that energy.  It is my hope and belief that such an approach can instill a child with the necessary confidence to be fearless about making art. The other thing I wanted them to take away form the workshop is empathy, the empathy to feel the energy in another person’s work, and this experience of empathy might hopefully permeate their feelings for other situations or even people.  Overall, I really enjoyed these workshops and more importantly, I hope the attendees did as well.

Now back to the Calendar.  Our first task was to install the exhibition. I walked into the exhibition space and was so amazed…what I saw was a truly beautiful space.  On October 28th the shipping company Agility arrived and unpacked the crates. I was delighted to find our wrappings were all in good shape. We placed the paintings around the rooms according to the plan.  Then the museum installation crew began hanging the works. We found we would be unable to hang any paintings in the two small rooms that adjoined the large rooms because of the lighting.  The men who worked directly for the National Museum of Bahrain were all very professional. One man by the name of Mohammed, especially impressed me.  At the end of that day, Kamel took me to the Capital Mall where I bought some gifts for family, friends, and assistants back home.  The Capital Mall is a store that sells objects that are typical of the area.  I bought some inlaid boxes and shopping bag and some sweets for Kamel’s children.

That Friday, the 29th, I had lunch at a very nice shopping center with Muneera, her sister, brother-in law, nephew and mother.  Later, Kamel picked me up and took me to the Souk, which is a really fascinating marketplace, typical of the region.  He also took me for a drive through Muharraq Island.

Then on the 30th, I met Jeanne Whatley, a wonderful American artist, mother, and wife, who we were so fortunate to be working with in Bahrain.  And I finally met Rachel Graaf!  It was great to finally put a face with her voice.  Jeanne, Rachel and I discussed scheduling possibilities for me to visit working artists in Bahrain.  A little later that day, I met Mr. Gandhi, who was in charge of all the museum lighting.  Thanks to him and prodding by Zakeya, we got all the lights that we needed to light the show. That evening my husband, Julian Weissman, arrived in Bahrain.

Julian visited the National Museum with me the next day and was very excited by what he saw.  The building and the scale of the exhibition space are truly extraordinary. The space is sweeping and the materials of the floors and walls are luxurious.  I spent the next two days lighting the paintings. Thankfully, everyone was very patient and worked hard until we got it right.

Just outside the museum windows there were two egrets, one white and the other black. I found the image captivating.  I took a photograph of them that looked like two hearts with the Persian Gulf as their backdrop. In some ways, they reminded me of the standard Bahraini garb, with men dressed in white and women in black. 

We went to the museum for part of the day on November 1st to check final lighting and the catalogs and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the opening. Wearing my brown, long vertically pleated, Issey Miyake dress, that had been given to me by a friend,  Julian and I went to the opening early and were interviewed separately for Bahrain Television. 

The rooms looked beautiful.  My paintings looked their best and there were gorgeous flowers on pedestals running the length of each room.  I was so touched by the effort.  It was wonderful to meet Ambassador Ereli and his wife, Marina.  The Minister of Culture, Shaikha Mai was not able to attend the opening but Dr. Isa Amin, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture was there in her place. For a nervous artist in a foreign country, Dr. Isa Amin was both calm and calming.  He made me feel like everything was under control.  With some ceremony, the four of us walked together into the first room to officially open the exhibition. I met so many people that evening and the reaction to my paintings was wonderful.  I was interviewed “live” by the English-speaking radio show and felt he asked some good questions. One of my most important objectives for my art is that people connect with my paintings and become aware of their own personal visual experiences. It was a fantastic and very memorable evening.

The next day, Tuesday, November 2nd, Jeanne Whatley took Julian and I to the Al Bareh Gallery where we saw the paintings of Omar Rashid and met with Jehan Saleh who is the gallery manager of Al Bareh.  She is also a talented artist which I would learn later.  We also had the opportunity to meet the artist and his dealer, Hayfa Al Jishi.  It was a wonderful exhibition and Omar is a superb painter.  His use of color is great and he can really draw.  On top of that, he is a wonderful person. I hope I can help him in NYC some day. I really liked and respected Hayfa and she invited me, Julian, Jeanne and Will Whatley to her home for drinks on Saturday, November 6th, before Julian returned to New York.

We had lunch in Adilya with Jeanne on Tuesday the 2nd and then the three of us visited Bayan Kanoo and Jaffar Al Oraibi at Jaffar’s exhibition at Al Riwaq Gallery.  What a beautiful space and the light is magnificent.  The gallery could stand up to any Chelsea Gallery in New York City and I understand it is a real hub of cultural activity.  It seems to function like every artist dreams the galleries will function…presenting ideas and interesting questions for the world of art to learn and answer.  There is a wonderful energy to Jaffar’s work and he seems to be very successful.  If there is an influence in his work, it might be Basquiat, but it is highly personal and really well done.  I hope he doesn’t burn out with all the demands for future exhibitions.

Then I went to the museum and waited for the British School students, who unfortunately never arrived, but following that we did an Energy Art workshop for a number of teachers from different schools. Later that evening, back at the Golden Tulip, Julian and I were having dinner when he received a call from his pulmonologist in New York who told him there was a spot on his lung that he…the Pulmonologist… saw on a recent CAT scan. This grave news cast a small shadow over the trip, but we tried to focus on the moment and the amazing opportunity we had both been given to be together in Bahrain.

On Wednesday November 3rd, Jeanne picked me up from the hotel for a visit to Rahim Sharif’s studio in Saar.  It was an incredible experience to meet Rahim and see his work. His work is powerful, tapping into something universal, yet personal.  He is both a great artist and a wonderful person.  He should be showing in New York City.  His work would be important here.  Jeanne, Julian and I had lunch together at the Golden Tulip and then Jeanne and I visited Hamad & Kareem Al Bosta’s studio in Muharraq. They are father and son and are both very inventive and experimental.  I was really impressed with the son Kareem’s works.  I honestly believe he is pushing the envelope regarding process and image.  He deserves to be seen everywhere. The father and son have their studios upstairs and the whole family lives on the first floor.  Kareem’s wife brought us delicious treats and then the children showed us their drawings and paintings.  They are a delightful family and I loved them and the whole experience. 

Later in the afternoon, we did another Energy Art workshop for two hours at the museum.  During this time, Julian met with Sabu the printer of the catalog to discuss making copies for me to take home.  Kamal picked up Julian, and then Kamal helped Julian buy flowers to bring to the dinner with Muneera’s Bubshait’s family in Saar.  But before we went to Muneera’s home, we stopped in for the opening of a collective of six Saudi women. A woman by the name of Wedad Albakr, one of the artists exhibiting, whom I was introduced to at my opening and immediately liked, recommended we attend. Julian and I were both impressed with the range and uniqueness of work. Then Kamel took Julian and I to Muneera’s home where we met many of her relatives. They made a feast for us.  It was really beautiful and their home in Saar was lovely. It felt great to be with the whole family.  Julian had a nice talk with Muneera’s Father who had worked for the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia.  Even after a brief conversation, it was clear we had much in common. Whatever superficial differences there may have been, ultimately we were mothers and fathers alike with the same hopes and wishes for our respective families. They were all very loving and wonderful.

On Thursday morning, November 4th, Julian went to Abu Dhabi for the Art Fair.  I went to BNM and did a GLOBE workshop.  I then went back to the hotel to do an interview with a “glossy magazine”, which never came to fruition.  Kamel picked me up at 5:30 and we went to the Bahrain Arts Society. There was a two-person show of Abdulshaheed Khamdan & Mohsen Ghareeb.  Both artists effectively used Arabic calligraphy in their works.  For Mohsen Ghareeb, the calligraphic use of the letters in the paintings encapsulated a very specific Middle Eastern mentality.  The work of the other artist, Abdulshaheed Khamdan felt more universal.  As we were leaving the exhibition, we met Ali M. Al Mahmeed who is the President of the Bahrain Arts Society.  Then we met with two other artists. Jabar AlGhadban paints female figurative paintings in a narrow vertical format and Abbas Yousif who works with mixed media abstractly and uses some calligraphy. Both were very professional artists and I was really taken with Abbas Yousif’s works. They have a quiet complexity that is very intriguing.

On Friday, November 5th, Jeanne picked me up at the hotel and after stopping for a coffee at Starbucks!, we went to the Contemporary Art Society where we met a number of artists including Kareem Al Orrayad, Sayed Hassan Al Sari, Rasid Al Oraifi, and Nader Ahmed who seemed extremely contemporary and a bit conceptual and would easily fit in a Chelsea environment. Janan Saleh was there and we saw her printing press.  I saw some of her work at Jeanne’s on a later day and I think she is a fine artist and printmaker. The Contemporary Art Society is located near the Navy Base, which is an older structure with some really interesting pre-war architecture.  It is in the process of being renovated and is going to be a beautiful exhibition space.  They had a wonderful congregating area where more than ten artists were all gathered, having coffee and talking about art.  I loved how the young people showed respect for the elderly founders of the Society (Kareem Al Orrayad and Rasid Al Oraifi) and how the older artists showed a deep appreciation for the younger artists.  While there I met the Irish graphic and fine artist, Conor Maguire. Since my trip to Bahrain I have been in correspondence with Conor and I believe he is currently working on putting together an exhibition for the children of Bahrain.  We saw a lot of good and interesting art at the Contemporary Art Society.  I couldn’t help wishing that Julian could have been there.  I especially wish he could have seen Kareem Al Orrayad’s work, which fits within the vein of Giorgio Cavallon’s work or a number of other first and second-generation Abstract Expressionist painters from the 1950’s.  Julian returned from Abu Dhabi that evening.

On Saturday, November 6th, we went to Jassra with Kamel and saw pottery, weaving, and other crafts as well as the first home of the King’s Father. Afterwards we took a trip to the big Mosque in Manama. It was fascinating and very spiritual and a very knowledgeable man spent a lot of time explaining everything about the mosque and the Muslim religion. Then we met Zakeya and went to Muharrach to see the Heritage Homes. It was then that I realized what a genius Shaikah Mai is. The restorations she has made on the old buildings in Muharrach are absolutely brilliant. While the Financial Harbour reflects the burgeoning architectural modernity seen in wealthy Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, the Heritage Homes conversely give people the opportunity to see buildings based on early architectural models that preserve Bahrain’s unique cultural heritage and celebrate the people who contributed to their rich heritage. 

We went shopping with Zakeya and had a wonderful meal at her beautiful home with her husband, Rashid, and their two daughters, Norah and Farah.  Then as planned, Jeanne and her husband, Will, took Julian and I to Hayfa Al-Jishi’s home which was nearby for tea. Hayfa has a beautiful home and the art she showed us was really interesting. We were all very impressed by her warmth and great taste. Serendipitously, she and Julian met briefly a few weeks later in Miami during Miami Art Basel. Julian told me how nice her booth was and he hoped she wasn’t too discouraged by the bearish state of the art market. After visiting Hayfa, Jeanne and Will dropped us off at Zakeya and Rashid’s and we went back to Manama to the Souk and shopped for some special Bahraini jewelry for me.

Early the next morning, Julian left for New York City. I was a little homesick by then and it was sad to see him go, but I know he was very happy to have made the trip.

On the morning of Sunday, November 7th, Jeanne and I visited Ali Al Mahmeed at the Hend Gallery in Muharraq.  Ali is a wonderful sculptor (I particularly love his stone carvings) and a savvy businessman, which is a rare mix. While we were in his gallery, he was a very warm and generous host.  He made me a gift of a beautiful silk screen which I have hanging in my studio.  It was clear his success and confidence are the defining characteristics that allow him to help other artists so altruistically.  He has organized many shows and competitions and is a very positive force in the Bahrain art world.  Jeanne suggested we visit his talented daughter’s dress shop next door, where we found and purchased some lovely abbayas and baby gifts.  After that there were some cancellations on the schedule and so Jeanne took me on a quest/journey to find a Bahrain Football (soccer) jersey for my son. It wasn’t easy to find, but we did and he loves it and wears it proudly here in New York City.  We stopped at Jeanne’s house in the midst of our quest and I met her children who were gorgeous and wonderful.  I also saw some of her art and I was very impressed by her talent and skill and I am amazed by the way she accomplishes so many diverse things.  I feel honored to call her a dear friend.

That evening there was a reception in my honor at Ambassador Ereli’s residence. I was humbled to see my paintings installed and lit so beautifully in such an impressive building. The reception was for the art community so I had the opportunity to meet with some of the artists I had visited and some new artists. It was great to talk so freely and informally with them. There were so many photographers taking pictures at the event that I decided to start taking pictures of them taking pictures of us! It was great to talk with Ambassador Ereli and his wife, Marina.  They have left Bahrain by now, but we were lucky to have them as our representatives in Bahrain.  Everyone I met in Bahrain felt that they were gracious and intelligent and whenever anyone mentioned them while I was there, they would say how much they liked and respected our Ambassador and his wife.  It was a very special evening for me.

On Monday, November 8th, Kamel drove Jeanne and me to visit Dr. Samia Engineer’s studio.  Samia’s studio is on the top floor of her beautiful home. She has a large outdoor terrace with a simple design and in the early afternoon it was dappled in a beautiful light that made the space feel very peaceful.  As an artist, she is very talented, innovative and fearless.  I feel like her work would be well received in Chelsea.  The images she works with are extremely personal… many relating to gender politics. It was great to see such a talented woman teaching young artists as well as contributing to the Bahrain art world.  Next, we visited the studio of Balquees Falkro, who is another extremely talented artist. Her work is in direct dialogue with the work of first and second generation American Abstract Expressionists. She is smart, gracious, hard working, and another important member of the Bahrain art world. I enjoyed her paintings and I believe she really deserves to show in New York City.  Later that day, a workshop was scheduled for a private American school, but was canceled due to inclement weather.

On November 9th I taught a GLOBE workshop followed by an Energy workshop.  I continued to encourage the young men and women to work together, knowing full well the polemical nature of my request. They put up with me, but were still uninterested in co-ed teamwork.  Even though there seems to be a separation between men and women, I was happy to learn that there are more women CEOs in Bahrain than any other Middle Eastern country. 

During a previous Energy workshop I met Safia Kanoo, who is a Bahraini artist.  She invited me to lunch and to see her work that Tuesday.  We had lunch in a lovely French Café in the restaurant district and then drove to her beautiful home, which was right on the water. She had a stunning assortment of antique furnishings and all the paintings on her walls she had made herself. She made work that she wanted to live with, which is something I really admire. She is so kind, talented, generous, and eager to learn; she was a joy to be with. Later that afternoon, I gave a tour of my show to the ACCESS English Microscholarship students. This was followed by an Energy workshop with Nadine School teachers. Right after that workshop I had the honor and privilege to meet HE Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Minister of Culture.  She was with Dr. Isa Amin and it was a thrill to be able to tell her that I had seen the Heritage Houses and what a genius I thought she was.  She is a very sophisticated and lovely woman and she very kindly put up with my enthusiasm.  That evening, Miriam Wilson, a fellow American, took me to dinner at the Museum overlooking the Fort, which was made beautifully visible with a shade of gold light.  After dinner, we walked down the steps to the water and I put my feet in the Persian Gulf for the first time. I realized that I hadn’t ever seen people using the waterfront in Manama. It struck me that there is so much work being done to gain land from the sea that I guess they can’t easily use the water for pleasure.

On Wednesday, November 10th, we had a Cloud workshop with the GLOBE students, followed by an Energy workshop.  Afterwards, Muneera had lunch with me at the Golden Tulip.  She is such a good person and was enormously helpful and I will always count her as a friend. That afternoon, the printers delivered the exhibition catalogs.  Then it was back to the National Museum of Bahrain for an Energy workshop with the Al Ma’ali school art teachers. That evening, I stayed at Zakeya’s home, with Rashid and their children. They made a wonderful dinner and were the best hosts I could have hoped for.  It also helped to take the edge off my homesickness.

Early Thursday morning, November 11th, we held an Energy workshop for thirty-six people, including teachers from different government schools and Art Advisors from the Ministry of Education. Upon completion, they each received a certificate for attending the workshop. After I finished the last Cloud workshop for the GLOBE students, I met a local designer, Ammar Bashier, who said his clients were interested in my Sunflower and Water paintings.  Ammar’s offices were lovely and his designs quite innovative. I then returned to the museum to teach the last Energy workshop. Twenty-five young artists from the University of Bahrain attended with their Art teacher (the Bahrain artist I had met with Jeanne, Samia Engineer), along with Al ma’ali gate school teachers and Safia Kanoo.  At the end of the workshop, Safia invited a number of us to her home for brunch the next day. I spent the evening packing.

The next morning, Kamel took me to Safia Kanoo’s beautiful home for brunch with Safia and Zakeya, Janan, Muneera, Marianne and a woman by the name of Seanna Mallen.  We had a great time oohing and aaahing about Safia’s paintings and her home and laughing a lot and eating too much!  It was really wonderful to be with everyone.  I know it is a different culture, but I feel so many similarities between us all.  I feel like they will always be my friends.  After that, Zakeya took me in her car to a shopping center where I bought tape, rope and a cutting tool for taking my catalogs back to the States.  We almost bought some Arabian coffee.  I am so sorry we didn’t.  I haven’t been able to find it here.  Following that excursion, we went to the Fort where we met Marianne.  Zakeya and I did a tour of the Museum which houses the artifacts that were found at the Fort.  What a magnificent display…I understand it designed by the French and also that the museum was designed by a Danish firm.  Really wonderful to know how Global everyone and everything is.

Following our interesting sojourn through the collection, we met Marianne and had coffee and sweets while sitting on the verandah.  It was just nearing sunset and then almost magically, Arabian horses and riders began galloping along the shoreline!  What a thrill!  I took some photographs, but they really can’t capture the excitement.  While it was still a bit light, we walked up to the Fort where we met Abdulla Hassan Yahya who was a friend of Zakeya’s.  He worked at the Fort and knew everything about it.  He gave us wonderful bits of information about the beginnings of the Fort and pointed out the functions of different areas.  As we stayed long past everyone else, the light shifted and the sun went down and golden colored lights began shining on the surfaces of the stones.  I started to see secondary images in the stones which are very irregular because as Ali informed us, they were taken from the sea, consequently they are filled with sea shells and fossils as well as small stones.  I took photographs and they comprise a new series of work for me which I am very excited about.  Following our extensive tour through the Fort, Zakeya and Marianne and I went in Zakeya’s car to the King Fahd Causeway.  We drove what seemed a very long way to where Bahrain and Saudi Arabia meet on the Causeway.  Where we stopped and got out of the car was the view of one of the paintings I had made as a gesture of friendship to the people of Bahrain!  The painting is entitled  “Bridge Into The Night” and that is what we were experiencing.  Then Zakeya and I drove Marianne back to her car and Zakeya and I went to a restaurant for some dinner. After dinner we tried to stop and say goodbye to Muneera, but we ended up in a traffic jam and couldn’t reach each other.  In the process of trying to return to the hotel so I could gather my things in readiness for meeting Kamel who would take me to the airport, Zakeya wisely reached the wonderful Mubarak.  He kindly promised to meet me at the airport to help me leave because I had so much weight because of the catalogs and the visa that I had originally obtained had run out a few days earlier.  And of course he took care of everything and made my last moments in Bahrain feel free of strain.  As much as I missed my family back in New York City, I was sad to leave Bahrain and all the wonderful people I had met.  I hope I can return some day and more than anything I hope that everyone stays safe through this period of protests and I also hope a peaceful solution presents itself to the people of Bahrain.  All of the people I met, young and old were capable and intelligent with ambitions to do good things. I hope that in some small way the experience I have relayed here can, for someone, somewhere, imbue a difficult time for the region with a sense of the individual. While I was there, I met people, not masses or dehumanized statistics, but wonderful, hard-working people I grew to love, full of rich complexities and beautiful ideas. I wish for them that they will all have many opportunities to accomplish their dreams.