May 17, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Thailand: Diplomacy: Hunger: Dayton Daily News: Fine art and the global politics of food may not seem to naturally go together, but at Tony Hall's house they happen to blend quite effectively.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Thailand: Special Report: RPCV Tony Hall: Tony Hall: Archived Stories: May 17, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Thailand: Diplomacy: Hunger: Dayton Daily News: Fine art and the global politics of food may not seem to naturally go together, but at Tony Hall's house they happen to blend quite effectively.

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-245-37.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.245.37) on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 5:16 pm: Edit Post

Fine art and the global politics of food may not seem to naturally go together, but at Tony Hall's house they happen to blend quite effectively.

Fine art and the global politics of food may not seem to naturally go together, but at Tony Hall's house they happen to blend quite effectively.

Fine art and the global politics of food may not seem to naturally go together, but at Tony Hall's house they happen to blend quite effectively.

Hall brings touch of home to Rome
DAI art adorns residence of U.S. ambassador

By Ron Rollins

Dayton Daily News

Caption: U.S. Ambassador Tony Hall examines an olive tree growing in his yard on the outskirts of Rome.

ROME | Fine art and the global politics of food may not seem to naturally go together, but at Tony Hall's house they happen to blend quite effectively.

Hall, the 24-year congressman from the Dayton area, is well into his third year in Rome working as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture a job that makes him the United States' point man on international hunger relief from the Asian tsunami zone to violent African hot spots.

The job takes him to famine-racked regions such as the Sudan and Ethiopia but also requires a lot of entertaining and diplomacy, much of which Hall conducts with the help of his wife, Janet, at their stately Appian Way villa on the outskirts of Rome.

What folks in Dayton might not realize, though, is that the state dinners and official visits happen with a very big and visible hometown assist.

If you know what to look for, it's apparent as soon as you step inside the foyer of the Halls' home. There, over the piano in the front hall, hangs a monumental painting of craggy peaks glowing red and gold in the receding sun.

It's clearly an American landscape, a reminder to the visitor that here, in the home of one of three U.S. ambassadors in Rome, you are now officially back on American soil.

Close inspection of the small, museum-style label alongside the painting tells the story. It's Sunset in the Rocky Mountains, painted in 1866 by William T. Rill.

On loan, by the way, from the Dayton Art Institute.

Before the Halls left for Rome 2½ years ago, they approached their local art museum with a request: Might the DAI loan some of its artworks to decorate the ambassador's residence for his three-year term?

The answer: Certainly.

DAI Director Alex Nyerges and his curators went through the collection to find paintings that would be appropriate.

"We wanted American works by American artists especially representing the Heartland or Ohio," Nyerges said.

Mostly, what the staff found was a series of good landscapes in a variety of styles, from realistic to Impressionistic and an abstracted contemporary piece 10 in all, including the Rill. The Halls had a look at them.

"Alex said, 'Which ones do you want?' and I said, 'All of them!' " Hall recounted with a laugh.

"He isn't kidding," Nyerges said.

The State Department pays for insurance and shipping and oversees the art handling and its eventual return as part of the Art in Embassies Program.

Many countries have similar programs.

The artworks, Hall says, help set the right tone and atmosphere for their home, in addition to reminding the Halls of Dayton. "People are always asking about our art," he said. "It really enhances the house."

To round out the collection, the Halls also borrowed two works from the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., which share space on the spacious first floor of the home. They're also augmented by a bright, sturdy still life in oil by Jyl Hall, their 29-year-old daughter, and even a small drawing of a tree from the yard that the ambassador made himself.

"My wife made us put it up," he said, admitting he's a bit embarrassed. "It's terrible."

Actually, it's fine.

Nyerges and two of his staff, executive assistant Roberta Simon and deputy director Renee Roberts, recently got to see the museum's pieces again when they visited the Halls' residence on the way back from an Egyptian trip related to the DAI's upcoming Quest for Immortality exhibition.

"We've been trying to get you to come over for 2½ years to see how it looks," Hall told the museum contingent, which included several other Daytonians, as he opened a dinner in their honor.

Mrs. Hall was pleased to show off the paintings. "They're all favorites," she says. She particularly likes a 1922 John Christen Johansen oil that depicts a family scene, and also is fond of a dark landscape by Guiseppe Leone Cadenasso, because of his Italian-American heritage. She misses the colorful Ohio Landscape, a Depression-area realist work by Woldemar Neufeld that Hall took to work. "I hated to see that one leave the house, but it was perfect for his office," she sighed.

Hall likes the landscapes that adorn his reading room, which also contains a small square of yellowed canvas from the original Wright Flyer, a gift from Orville and Wilbur's family, and a signed photograph from a personal hero, Mother Teresa.

Hall reflected with his guests on his work to fight hunger a fight that is most often against government inefficiency and corruption that keep food from getting where it's needed, and civil wars that use starvation as weapon against local populations.

His term ends in September, and looking back over his time, Hall says he's seen improvements in Ethiopia, the Congo, Zambia and Malawi, while hunger crises have worsened in the Sudan, North Korea and northern Uganda.

"Sometimes you know where the food should go, but with the war going on you have to stop your trucks you know the soldiers will steal the food and kill the drivers. So you hope it gets better, and you try again. We're working most often to just keep people alive."

To help do that, the United States spent $1.4 billion on U.N. hunger relief efforts, "and it's still not enough," Hall says. "It's like a drop in the bucket. But as Mother Teresa said, 'I know that if I didn't do it, there wouldn't be this drop.'

"You hang onto the little things. Today, I fed 10,000 people. That's not a bad day."

Contact Ron Rollins at 225-2165.





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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Thailand; Diplomacy; Hunger

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