Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sukonik Fine Art Inc.    
Profile and Discussion     
Philadelphia PA   

     Arts professional Patricia Sukonik, director and president of Sukonik Fine Art Inc. is an art historian and lawyer.  A skilled educator, and business person, she has been advising new and established, private and corporate, artists and art collectors for more than 30 years.  Advisor services range from artists rights and copyright matters, to authentication, curatorial purchase, exhibition, maintenance of collections, and public speaking.  Topics focus on fine art and cultural property, and their relationship to world history and economy.

    Art World : Recognizing Cultural Heritage in our 21st Century

    The annual meeting of the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield took place September 19, 2014 at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC USA.  Recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and the United States fifth ratification of the Hague Convention, professional art advocates celebrated with of a meeting of great minds and the recognition of great efforts.

     The keynote speaker was Harry Ettlinger, World War II veteran and former Monuments Man who recounted stories of his life and time as a Monuments Man.  Major Thomas (Tommy) Livoti spoke on behalf of Brigadier General Hugh Van Roosen about the beginnings of the formation of the 21st century “Monuments Men.”  This new group, in its infancy, is recruiting cultural heritage professionals “under the guise of a military initiative” to protect the world’s heritage that is threatened by armed conflict.”  Dr. Laurie Rush, who works as a US Army civilian for Cultural Resources at Fort Drum NY USA, spoke about the annual meeting of the Combatant Command Heritage Action Group and their work . (See: 

    The cultural destruction that we currently witness in the world and the efforts being made to bring them to a halt are serious issues needing world support.  University of Pennsylvania Heritage Center representative Hanson and AAAS representative Dr. Susan Wolfinbarger spoke at the meeting about ongoing turmoil throughout the world such as that in Syria, Iraq, and the Thai/Cambodian border, as well as the documented satellite imagery that follows the turmoil.  University of Alabama representative Parack spoke about “Protecting the Past from Space”, and how cultural heritage experts can better track the motions of looting of archaeological sites using satellite imagery and technology. 

    Other sobering reports from presenters talked about multiple projects in the process of formation which are geared to document as well as build systematic programs to prevent further destruction of cultural heritage.  Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO spoke aggressively about giving concrete reactions to extremist actions which are in fact attacks against people, their identity and their history, and their future.  Optimistically, she noted, that while the art market is in dire need of more education on the challenges facing preservation of cultural heritage during this time, a new consciousness is emerging that can help in the efforts to curb the wanton destruction we witness at this time. University of Pennsylvania Cultural Heritage Center representative Daniels discussed his work in educating locals in conflict area about emergency preservation methods and studies of heritage in conflict situations which will be launching it’s new website later this year. (

    Celebration awards honored Brigadier General Erik C. Peterson, Commanding General, US Army Special Operations Aviation Command for his work at Fort Drum and Dr. Laurie Rush board member of Blue Shield for  actions taken to protect and preserve world cultural heritage.  The signing of A Memorandum of Understanding by Dr. Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution and Dr, Nancy Wilkie, President, US Committee of the Blue Shield, created a bond between the corporate entities and memorialized the promise of future efforts to support education of cultural heritage professionals and locals in conflict areas, and to provide the means for accomplishing these ends. 

    In addition to reminding us of the tragedy that befalls cultural heritage, as objects in areas of armed conflict face destruction, this meeting also celebrated hope.  We learn about ongoing and grass roots initiatives that individuals and organizations are taking to protect cultural sites and cultural objects.  As we learn we can educate others; the job needs more action and support.  And lastly, we are reminded that cultural heritage represents our history.  It is our identity.