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Reporters on the Job

ART AS STORIES: Some stories are born out of personal, day-to-day contacts with locals. Today's piece is a good example.

The Monitor's Scott Peterson first met Iraqi artist Esam Pasha al-Azzawy before the war, at an antique auction. They bumped into each other several other times at a café favored by Baghdadi intellectuals. Meeting again after the war, at the same café on the day it opened, Mr. Al-Azzawy's told Scott about his dream to erase Hussein's image in the final days before Baghdad fell. During the US bombings, the artist had painted his "masterpiece," he said. Scott visited his studio, saw the painting and wrote of Al-Azzawy's hopes in an article on May 6.

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The "masterpiece" was of a woman who represented the Iraqi capital. "The power of that image haunted me for weeks afterwards," Scott says, as much for what it meant to the artist, as for the fine painting itself. "I resolved to track him down again, hoping that he hadn't sold it yet. He hadn't - and now it graces the Monitor bureau in Baghdad."

HATLESS IN IRAQ: Don't bring a baseball cap to Iraq, the Monitor's Cameron Barr was advised, you'll stand out as an American. So, Cameron purchased a a straw chapeau with a black band. But when he set out to interview Sunni Muslims outside a mosque for today's story on Iraqi attitudes, he left his hat in the car. He managed to stay in the shade most of the time but the bookseller interview took him into the full sun on a 120 degree F. day. "I never left my hat in the car again." But he says, the hat still marked him as a foreigner. "Some Iraqis thought I was a CIA agent."

David Clark Scott
World editor