10:52 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At the end of September, the federal government's fiscal year was drawing to a close, the threat of a shut down was increasing, and the State Department was shopping for art. Four contracts were awarded in the last two weeks of September, including $1,000,000 for a granite sculpture by Irish-born artist Sean Scully to be installed at the new U.S. Embassy in London. Notice of the awards was posted Sunday afternoon of Thanksgiving weekend on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
Although the form of the Scully sculpture is not identified in the award notification, the artist has produced granite sculptures before, including this one entitled "Wall of Light Cubed 2" in 2008:
The remaining three awards include a bronze sculpture, "Flowers", by American artist Donald Baechler ($150,000), for the new U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan; a mosaic mural by Miotto Mosaic Art Studio in Carmel, NY ($150,000), for the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; and a work entitled "The Black Arch" by Saudi Arabian writer Raja Alem and artist Shadia Alem, for the new U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
When asked for comment on the contract awards, a State Department official provided the intended destinations for the artwork, as well as the following statement:
The Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies curates permanent and temporary exhibitions for U.S. embassy and consulate facilities. For the past five decades Art in Embassies has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy with a focused mission of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and artist exchange. Art in Embassies is a public-private partnership engaging over 20,000 participants globally, including artists, museums, galleries, universities, and private collectors, and encompasses over 200 venues in 189 countries.
The art pieces listed below will become part of the collections at diplomatic posts and in some cases, comply with host city planning requirements that art be incorporated within the design scheme and displayed in public spaces. These pieces are permanent purchases, not on loan.
The State Department's 2013 budget request included $2.5M for the Art in Embassies program.
UPDATE: A State Department official emails to say, "Sean Scully was born in Ireland, but is now an American." This post has been updated to reflect that fact.
10:25 AM, Nov 25, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
The terrorist attack against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, awakened renewed interest in the security of overseas consulates and embassy facilities. A recent report by the State Department's Office of the Inspector General spotlights some major concerns regarding the safety of American diplomats and staff in Minsk, Belarus, as well as the security of communications. The report notes that some progress has been made during the last year, but more remains to be done.
1:14 PM, Oct 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A week before the government shutdown began, the State Department awarded a $130 million contract to design and build a new embassy compound in the city of NouakChott in the West African nation of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, which lies between Mali and the Atlantic Ocean. The contract went to Caddell Construction of Montgomery, Alabama, after having asked for bids in December 2011:
5:54 PM, Sep 10, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
A few hours before midnight in Iraq as September 11 approached, the U.S.
2:46 PM, Aug 21, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
This week, the State Department announced that, in "an important symbol of our enduring friendship with Benin," construction has begun on a new $178 million embassy complex in the small West African nation, a neighbor of Togo and Nigeria. As is often the case in the construction of new U.S.
1:49 PM, Aug 15, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The U.S. government’s decision to shutter more than 20 diplomatic facilities earlier this month was based on intelligence showing that al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri was in contact with multiple subordinates. And that intelligence undermines a widely-held assumption: Many have argued that Zawahiri, and other senior al Qaeda leaders, hold little sway over the international network that fights in al Qaeda’s name.
'Environmentally-sustainable.'3:25 PM, May 21, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The State Department today announced the dedication of a new "environmentally-sustainable" embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi. The cost of the building project is $133 million.
10:42 PM, May 11, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The Egyptian interior ministry announced Saturday that an al Qaeda plot against a Western embassy and other targets had been disrupted. Two suspected terrorists are being held for questioning and a third is under house arrest.
11:31 AM, Jan 17, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
With Americans being held hostage in Algeria, the U.S. embassy in that country is posting Facebook photos of ... "Rubik’s Cubes Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr." Here's a screen grab:
11:18 AM, Oct 1, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
A pro-America rally is scheduled to be held tomorrow outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. The expression of support for America is being organized by Im Tirzu Movement in order to "remind the United States that Israel is America's best friend in the Middle East"
12:28 PM, Sep 25, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama made the case to the ladies of The View that we should "marginalize" the infamous anti-Islam video that supposedly sparked attacks on American embassies across the world by "ignoring it."
Begin with Western strength and confidence in our principles.Sep 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 02 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
For close to 1,300 years, Muslims cared little what infidels thought of them. The curious caliph, sultan, vizier, or cleric might engage the arguments of Christians questioning the one true faith, but such disputatious exchanges were made as much out of befuddlement as disdain: Any sensible, well-educated man would obviously see the superiority of Islam over earlier imperfections.
10:52 AM, Sep 14, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Photos and video from the Twitter feed of Phil Han, a reporter and producer in CNN, who is outside the U.S. embassy in London where a mob has gathered and burned the American flag: