Monthly Archives: April 2009

Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari visited Washington

Former Finnish prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner 2008 Martti Ahtisaari

Former Finnish prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner 2008 Martti Ahtisaari

“IT IS GOOD to be back to the National Press Club. I lived in New York for during 20 years, and I have learnt to appreciate the vigorous debate here,” said Martti Ahtisaari, the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winner, when he recently was the luncheon speaker at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Mr. Ahtisaari is also the former Finnish Prime Minister and the former U.N. Special Envoy to Kosovo.

“ALL CONFLICTS can be resolved,” he said, “but constructive support from the U.S. is necessary for solving international problems.”

HE POINTED OUT that it is important to “promote global stability and peace” and emphasized the importance of the relationship between the United States and Russia. He stated that a prosperous Russia that is integrated with Western countries is a key ingredient in the effort to maintain global stability.

MR. AHTISAARI was particularly concerned about the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as the explosive high unemployment rate in the Arab countries. He noted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a central issue in the Middle East, and that there “needs to be talks to all parts that have people’s support.” He added that he agrees with President Obama about a two-state solution.

“IT IS CRITICAL to improve employment for young people in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.
“THERE ARE NO easy solutions for Afghanistan, and Russia and Iran need to help stabilize the country.”

MR. AHTISAARI Pointed out that “Europe and The United States have an enormous responsibility for the world. We can’t pick and choose our partners for peace. We have to talk to anyone. We also have to make sure that ordinary people don’t suffer when political leaders make a mistake.”

HE ALSO SAID he had no problems with a Turkish membership in the EU.

Martti Ahtisaari and columnist Jim Hoagland, The Washington Post

Martti Ahtisaari and columnist Jim Hoagland, The Washington Post

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Eva Hafstr?m recounts her experience as a police officer

Count Peder Bonde, Ingrid Beach, Eva Hafstr?m and David Paul

Count Peder Bonde, Ingrid Beach, Eva Hafstr?m and David Paul

AT A RECENT luncheon, arranged by SACU (Swedish American Cultural Union) in Washington, D.C., the Swedish Ambassador’s wife Ms. Eva Hafstr?m talked about her experience as police officer.

SHE SAID that when she started the police college in the early 1980′s only 15 percent of the students were women. Today the number is 40 percent.

RECOGNIZING the changing ethnic populations in Sweden, she added, “the police force should reflect the society we live in, where the genders make up 50 percent each, and also the same diversity in the force as in the society as a whole.”

MS. HAFSTR? pointed out that it is important for police officers to have “a big heart,” and that the police education is now very popular in Sweden, perhaps because of the influence, in part, of the well-known Swedish TV series “Martin Beck.”

“The education is changing and moving more towards a university degree,” she said. Moreover, she noted an education in law enforcement frequently leads to other opportunities, such as in her case, international affairs.

Open Studio at the O Street Artists Studio

Painter Lisa Marie Thalhammer next to her oil painting of the First Lady, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama

Painter Lisa Marie Thalhammer next to her oil painting of the First Lady, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama

ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, April 25 and 26, the O Street Artists Studio held an open house to show the working and living spaces of over 20 Washington, D.C. artists at one of the largest and oldest buildings dedicated to the practice of Fine Arts in the nation’s capital. Artists ranged from painters to graphic designers, sculptors to musicians, mixed-media artists to furniture makers. The O Street Studios hosted this Open Studio for a rare peek into their process and creative influences (www.52ostreetstudios.org).

AMONG THE ARTISTS were Lisa Marie Thalhammer, whose oil painting of the First Lady – Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama - got excellent reviews in the national newsmagazine U.S. News & World Report.

HER PAINTING of the First Lady was part of The Manifest Hope: DC Gallery, which celebrated artists, who used their voices to amplify and motivate the grassroots movement that carried President-Elect Barack Obama to victory. Manifest Hope gathered a diverse array of the nation’s most talented visual artists in one place to mark the achievement of electing Barack Obama president and to encourage artists and activists to maintain the momentum to bring about true change to the United States (www.manifesthope.com).

THIS IS WHAT U.S. News & World Report wrote about Thalhammer: “My work deals with powerful women,” she says. “Michelle is an important figure for us to look up to.” Thalhammer says that she does not usually produce politically minded art but has always been interested in portraying gender and power. Her portrait of the first lady stands out amid a sea of Obama portraits. “People around town talk about how much they admire her already,” says Thalhammer. “I’m excited to see her in her new role. I thought she needed to shine.” (www.lisamariethalhammer.com and www.lisamariestudio.com).

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, oil painting of the First Lady by Lisa Marie Thalhammer

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, oil painting of the First Lady by Lisa Marie Thalhammer

Visual artist Thom Flynn

Visual artist Thom Flynn

Visual artist Thom Flynn

Visual artist Thom Flynn

‘A Swedish Tiger’ is a powerful story of Swedish collaboration with the Nazis

Daniel C. Edwards and Goran Gillinger

Actors Daniel C. Edwards and Goran Gillinger

“A SWEDISH TIGER,” a play that exposes the deep dark side of the Swedish “neutrality” and accommodation with the Nazis in World War II, opened Wednesday night for a five weekend run at the award-winning Synetic Theater at 4041 Campbell Ave. in the Shirlington area of Arlington, Va.

GORAN GILLINGER, a born and raised Swede who plays the lead role, and directs and co-wrote “A Swedish Tiger,” drags out of the Swedish closet his country’s and his own family’s dramatic angst-ridden story of how “Sweden didn’t actually participate in World War II, but it did allow Germans to use our railways for transporting and building prison camps.”

WITH DRAMATIC acrobatics and staccato dialogue, Mr. Gillinger’s superb performance makes his point, alternately entertaining and shocking his audience, exorcising the sordid historical baggage of his country and his family. Daniel C. Edwards joins Mr. Gillinger on stage, playing the role of a fun-loving, not-so-bright “tiger,”and serving as a foil for Mr. Gillinger’s anxious dramatics.

DURING THE WAR, the Swedish government designed a logo portraying a tiger in the colors of the Swedish flag and instituted the motto “A Swede is always quiet.” The word “tiger” in Swedish not only means the wild animal, but it also means “to be quiet.” The message was that Swedes were to keep quiet about their government’s cooperation with the Nazis. Hence, the name of the play, “A Swedish Tiger.”

MR. GILLINGER explains further, “During World War II, Germany was allowed (or more demanded) to use Sweden’s railroads to transport prisoners and equipment to Norway, which Germany occupied. We also built prison camps in the north of Sweden to imprison Norwegian refugees and made substantial changes in the Swedish Constitution in order to help German forces. Not many know this… one might say ‘The Swedish Tiger’ campaign succeeded. The Ghost of history never leaves us….”

AS HE DRAMATIZES in his performance, the additional background for the play’s story is that after his grandfather died, Mr. Gillinger discovered that his grandfather was not only a Nazi sympathizer, but an honored collaborator.

GORAN GILLINGER was classically trained at the Royal Academy of Acting in Stockholm and at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatres in Los Angeles. He has played lead roles in drama and comedy productions on Swedish National Television, Sweden’s TV4 and in several major motion pictures. He has played on Sweden’s largest stages in productions of Moli?e, Shakespeare, Sam Shepard and many more. In 2008, Mr. Gillinger was part of the ensemble cast of Hamlet at the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, D.C.

“A SWEDISH TIGER” first played at the National Theater of Stockholm in 2005 to rave reviews. Sweden’s largest daily paper Svenska Dagbladet described it as “a complex self-examination worthy of exporting to other countries.” In 2007, Goran played five sold out performances of “A Swedish Tiger” at Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Fringe Festival and many were left wanting more!

“A SWEDISH TIGER” plays Thursdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. at the Synetic Theater, 4041 Campbell Street in the Shirlington District of Arlington, Va. Tickets are $20 for everyone except students and people under 25 years of age who pay $10. To reserve tickets, call (703) 824-8061.

Meghan Grady and Goran Gillinger

Actors Meghan Grady and Goran Gillinger

 
Martin Johansson, Solveig M?tensson, Niklas Bengtsson and Johan Ellborg

Martin Johansson, Solveig M?tensson, Niklas Bengtsson and Johan Ellborg

Gunnel Gyllenhoff and Marianne Gustafson

Gunnel Gyllenhoff and Marianne Gustafson

Daniel C. Edwards and Goran Gillinger

Actors Daniel C. Edwards and Goran Gillinger

Meghan Grady and Goran Gillinger

Actors Meghan Grady and Goran Gillinger

Italian Artist Paolo Staccioli shows dramatic ceramic work at the Italian Embassy in Washington

The artist Paolo Staccioli and Rita Venturelli, director of the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The artist Paolo Staccioli and Rita Venturelli, director of the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT, April 22, a reception was held for an exhibition by the Italian ceramic artist Paolo Staccioli by the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The evening’s hostess, Rita Venturelli, who is Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, spoke about the artist and his artworks and accomplishments, and joined with the guests in offering a toast to Mr. Staccioli. The elegant Embassy, designed by Piero Santogo, was a perfect background to his beautiful artworks.

PAOLO STACCIOLI was born just south of Florence in the town of Scandicci in 1943. In his youth he devoted himself to painting and set up his first show in 1973. His first ceramic experiments with terracotta bas-reliefs date back to the late ’80s. He continued to experiment with glazes, and under the guidance of the craftsman Umberto Santandrea, he began research into lustres using earth, oxides and salt, through the reduction firing technique. Staccioli eventually abandoned painting to transfer the subjects onto vases ridden by a winged cherubs, the bronze casting of which inaugurated the Parco Museo of Poggio Valicaia, Scandicci. His studies reveal an ongoing research in the modeling of new figures, such a warriors, travelers on wagons and boats, through to the very recent cardinals. He has held many shows in Italy, and elsewhere including France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The artist Paolo Staccioli and Rita Venturelli, director of the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The artist Paolo Staccioli and Rita Venturelli, director of the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Pino Cicala, Mariuccia Chiantaretto, Carmelo Cicala and Rita Venturelli,

Architect Pino Cicala, U.S. Correspondent for the Italian newspaper Il Giornale Mariuccia Chiantaretto, Carmelo Cicala, and Rita Venturelli, director of the Italian Cultural Institute at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Gilberto Idonea and Mariuccia Chiantaretto

Actor Gilberto Idonea and Mariuccia Chiantaretto, U.S. Correspondent for the Italian newspaper Il Giornale

Artwork by artist Paolo Staccioli

Artwork by artist Paolo Staccioli

Artwork by artist Paolo Staccioli

Artwork by artist Paolo Staccioli

Artwork by artist Paolo Staccioli

“Traveler Bust” by Paolo Staccioli

The Italian Embassy
The Italian Embassy
The Italian Embassy
The Italian Embassy
The Italian Embassy

The Italian Embassy

The Italian Embassy
The Italian Embassy

The Italian Embassy

Swedish Artist Anna U. Davis shows artwork in New York

Swedish photographer Beatrice Bring and Anna U. Davis

Swedish photographer Beatrice Bring and Anna U. Davis

THE WASHINGTON-BASED Swedish artist Anna U. Davis will show her new work at the Nevin Kelly Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair in New York in May 7 through May 10.

THE PROLIFIC Anna U. Davis focuses on portrayals of women striving to look the way they are supposed to look. Her bold, colorful, graphic use of acrylic painting and collage is provocative and compelling. To see more of Anna’s work, visit her web site: http://www.frocasians.com.

FOR THOSE of you who will be in New York, go to the Nevin Kelly Gallery, booth #A-300, The Affordable Art Fair, 7 West 34th Street, New York City, www.aafnyc.com.

Artwork by Anna U. Davis

Artwork by Anna U. Davis

Swedish Bishop Lennart Koskinen visits Washington

Swedish Bishop Lennart Koskinen, singer Meri Siirala and organist Steven Brodd

Swedish Bishop Lennart Koskinen, singer Meri Siirala and organist Steven Brodd

THE SWEDISH bishop of Visby and of Church of Sweden Abroad (Skut) Lennart Koskinen visited Washington, D.C., recently, and delivered the sermon during the church’s service on Sunday afternoon, April 19, at Augustana Lutheran Church – the church where Swedish Lutherans meet to worship in the American capital. Joining him in celebrating the mass was The Rev. Ib Pihlblad, who is the pastor at the Swedish Church in New York and who once a month celebrates Swedish mass at Augustana. Finnish singer Meri Siirala sang beautifully as part of the service.

FOR MORE THAN 20 years, Bishop Koskinen has worked as a priest, theologian and ethical advisor for Swedish company boards and business management teams. During his 10 years as director for the Church of Sweden Work Environment Institute, he took part in seminars and workshops focusing on social, work environmental and ethical issues. He has a doctoral degree in ethics and philosophy, but he also holds a degree in economics. The author of 16 books, he is an appreciated lecturer on issues serving and promoting sustainable and ethical business.

Swedish Bishop Lennart Koskinen

Swedish Bishop Lennart Koskinen

Singer Meri Siirala and organist Steven Brodd

Singer Meri Siirala and organist Steven Brodd

Pecha Kucha comes to the House of Sweden

Rouzita and Bita Vahhabaghai, with presenter Reena Kazmann (center)

Rouzita and Bita Vahhabaghai, organizers of Pecha Kucha D.C. with presenter Reena Kazmann (center)

More than 500 people showed up for Vol. #8 Pecha Kucha in Washington, D.C., which was held at the spectacular House of Sweden last Friday evening. Organized by the strikingly beautiful sisters Rouzita and Bita Vahhabaghai, the gathering followed the now traditional format of an opening reception and the 10 presenters who are allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – resulting in six minutes and 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up.

Appropriately, a few of the presenters at the Pecha Kucha at the House of Sweden were Swedes who flew in from Sweden for the occasion. Sara Backlund and Christina ?man represented the Interactive Institute from Kista and Magnus Gyllensw?d represented Ergonomidesign from Bromma.

Pecha Kucha Night, which was started in 2003 by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, are gatherings in cities worldwide for young designers and other creative entrepreneurs to meet, network, and show their work in public. Pecha Kucha in D.C. is now on its Vol. #8, which means they now have had eight gatherings.
Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for the sound of conversation, has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or schmooze magazine editors. This is a demand that seems to be global. The Pecha Kucha night has spread virtually to over 100 cities across the world.

The next Pecha Kucha D.C. will be at the Embassy of Finland on May 20. Check out http://www.pecha-kucha.org/cities/washington-dc for more information.

Sara Backlund

Sara Backlund of Interactive Design in front of the lamp they designed, which opens up like a flower when energy consumption in a household has been low for some time.

Pecha Kucha at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., to the right Swedish Cultural Attach?Mats Widbom

Pecha Kucha at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., to the right Swedish Cultural Attach?Mats Widbom

Pecha Kucha at the House of Sweden

Pecha Kucha at the House of Sweden

Rouzita and Bita Vahhabaghai, with presenter Reena Kazmann (center)

Rouzita and Bita Vahhabaghai, organizers of Pecha Kucha D.C. with presenter Reena Kazmann (center)

SWEA holds its Anniversary Dinner in Washington with Performance by Swedish singer Jill Johnson

Kate Novak, Agneta Nilsson, Eva Hafstr?m and Anne Marie McGowan

Kate Novak, Washington, D.C., SWEA Founder Agneta Nilsson, Los Angeles, Eva Hafstr?m, wife of Swedish ambassador in Washington, D.C., Jonas Hafstr?m, and Anne Marie McGowan, Washington, D.C.

IT WAS A GREAT EVENING when SWEA – the Swedish Women’s Educational Association – celebrated its 30th anniversary with a gala dinner at the Capital Hilton hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. After a fun and hilarious Lucia procession, and a delightful dinner and speeches by SWEA founder Agneta Nilsson, SWEA International President ?a Lena L??f, and Master of Ceremony Kate Novak, and others, the many guests listened to popular Swedish country- and pop-singer Jill Johnson. The event was certainly enjoyed by the several hundreds of SWEA members, who had come from all over the world.

Eva Lamb and Jill Johnson

Eva Lamb, Washington, D.C., and Swedish country- and pop-singer Jill Johnson

Mita Lindgren and Louise Enh?rning

Mita Lindgren, Hong Kong, and Louise Enh?rning, Florida, South

Jill Johnson

Swedish country- and pop-singer Jill Johnson

SWEA members

SWEA members

 
Agneta Nilsson and ?a Lena L??f

SWEA Founder Agneta Nilsson, from Los Angeles, and SWEA International President ?a Lena L??f, Florida, South

Lucia Procession
Lucia Procession
Lucia Procession

Lucia Procession

Maj-Liss Olsson, Mita Lindgren and Lotta Josefsson

Maj-Liss Olsson, Mallorca, Mita Lindgren, Hong Kong, and Lotta Josefsson, also from Hong Kong

Ulrika Williamson

Ulrika Williamson, Washington, D.C.

Mona Melleg?d and Ewa Fr?lich

Mona Melleg?d and Ewa Fr?lich, both from Arizona

Inga-Karin Reilly, Ulrika Mikel and Anna Dahlborg

Inga-Karin Reilly, Ulrika Mikel and Anna Dahlborg, all from Washington, D.C.

Li Thornton

Li Thornton, from Hawaii

Kerstin Dimberg

Kerstin Dimberg, Washington, D.C.

Kate Novak

Kate Novak, Washington, D.C.

Capital Hilton Ball Room

Capital Hilton Ball Room

Jill Johnson

Singer Jill Johnson performs.

SWEA anniversary celebration

SWEA anniversary celebration

SWEA anniversary celebration

SWEA anniversary celebration

SWEA anniversary celebration

SWEA anniversary celebration