Cedars Wings Magazine
Issue 50 April/May 1999
Feast for the Eyes, Food for the Soul.
Whew! It's a real break from the merciless corporate world and all its no-no's. It travels across centuries and continents. The "high" it takes you on is durable and holy. It's a feast for the eyes and food for the soul. This virtual celebration of individual creativity and freedom is the Internet site called LebanonArt.
Originally founded by 30-year-old Beirut-Born Lebanese lawyer William MATAR in 1997 as a personal homepage for his father Joseph MATAR, a distinguished Lebanese painter, LebanonArt today has expanded to become a bilingual award-winning web site. William MATAR, site owner and administrator, has put much thought, work, and time into the making of this web site, particularly since he has established and maintained it as a hobby apart from his legal profession. The result is an effective plea for supporting local artists and realization of such a plea's goals.
LebanonArt revolutionizes the Lebanese art world. It offers a new way of locating, buying, and selling art. It changes the way collectors, consultants, dealers, galleries, and publishers operate. Most importantly, it offers artists an alternative to costly agent commissions. As such, it is a milestone for both Lebanon and virtual art.
Mission: Just as its name indicates, LebanonArt is a home for all Lebanese artists and fine arts. Apart from featuring the intriguing paintings and poetry of Joseph MATAR, it is a permanent online gallery devoted to Lebanese artists including painters, sculptors, and poets. If you're a Lebanese artist (and even more important, an aspiring artist), you simply can't afford to miss browsing and being featured in LebanonArt. The site itself states: "LebanonArt invites the Lebanese artists, local and abroad, to exhibit their works here and bring their talents to the world. This site conveys a message from Lebanon to the world…
"Like it or not, and unless some major stroke of luck sponsors you to the top, nowadays you're not there unless you're there on the Internet. "To make an international visit or phone call costs a lot," explains MATAR, "In contrast, the Internet is an artificial haven that enables one to create and visit any site from anywhere in the world. There, it's so easy for anyone to market any products and to establish a virtual home-based business with a little capital, a wide potential market, and an important public image. The artist's ingenuity, of course, still has to speak for itself. At least the Internet is a worldwide exhibit that guarantees 24-hour exposure.
" Once virtual, always realistic -but not any virtual presence will do. "On the web, there's a sea of information on art," notes MATAR, "A simple homepage lost in cyberspace is nothing to a well-constructed, promoted, and marketed web page. You have to have support -to belong to the right online art community, and that community has to have a catchy name. The name "LebanonArt" is easy to remember and access through a domain name search."
Membership: … Yet LebanonArt.com does not distinguish, as no true art-lover should, between art from different cultures and instead gives all styles their due. The Lebanese, the Oriental, and the European, classical, exotic, and postmodern -all have their share of well-chosen links. Any artist interested in featuring original works on the Internet is a prospective LebanonArt member.
This electronic window to a wonderland will make you see anew. Through it, you will rediscover aspects of Lebanon, art, and daily life. The site's "Links" section leads to an endless collection of links, many offering the opportunity to subscribe to free art mailing lists. Collectors will rejoice over the huge number of paintings these links feature for sale.
Exposure: LebanonArt has clearly and quickly acquired an international dimension and a reputation for quality. Apart from its English and French versions, LebanonArt is preparing its Arabic version and will be one of the first virtual art galleries available in 3 languages. As is the case with all valuable online material, it is constantly updated and always in the making. …
Privately funded by MATAR himself, the site is now seeking sponsors such as banks and other institutions interested in sponsoring cultural events. The sponsor's logo will appear on the site's first page and all LebanonArt documents. The logo can act as hyperlink leading to further pages dedicated to sponsor. Other than the required financial investment, the sponsor's role is to promote LebanonArt by featuring the artist of its choice in the site. LebanonArt also aspires to become a search engine, but this upgrade requires an investment larger than the present one of owning a domain name and covering design and ad expenses.
You can count on LebanonArt to keep you updated. And who knows? You might be the first to spot a future Picasso. In short, make sure to leave all afternoon for visiting it, for you'll feel compelled to leave no link unexplored. The site also enables you to choose from its featured paintings and email them as free postcards. By cruising around LebanonArt, you run the risk of becoming an art maniac -Willing or not. After all, what better kind of maniac is there?