Arts & Culture - Armenian Reporter

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Arts & Culture - Armenian Reporter

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reporter

November 1, 2008

November 1, 2008

culture&

arts

the armenian reporter

&

Lilit Davtyan reads the news

Intersecting

lines

Page C7

Two

degrees of

separation

Page C4

Here and now

Page C3


Kherdian’s hometown poems

by Lory

Bedikian

Whenever I have found out about an

Armenian poet either from Armenia or

somewhere in the diaspora, it has usually

been through an Armenian bookstore

or through other Armenian writers and

publications.

While I was studying for my MFA in

Oregon, I frequented many of the bookstores

in Eugene, where I lived. One day

while browsing through the New Books

shelf and display, I reached for a book

titled The Neighborhood Years. I read the

name of the author, David Kherdian, and

was so excited at the idea that he might

be Armenian, I began to take a closer

look. The photo on the cover with three

men, one of them with dark, dashing features

and a cigarette dangling from his

lips was enough to know it had to be true.

And after reading a blurb from Aram Saroyan

on the back and glimpsing his biography,

it was definite: I had found a book

of poems by an Armenian, right there in

Eugene, Oregon. And I was quite excited

as I purchased the book.

Kherdian – who is the author and editor

of over 50 books and anthologies

and recipient of numerous awards – in

The Neighborhood Years writes poems

that honor moments and people from

a small town, poems that in some way

desire to relive days “Among the lost

backyards / of America” or on “neighborhood

streets.”

In The Neighborhood Years poems create

snapshots of the “The Milk Man” or

“The Blacksmith Shop” where Kherdian

either draws images of the workers of

a small town or the colors and shapes

of the places where they spend their

lives. Poems such as “The Coffee House,”

which was a “perfect haunt/for the Armenians,”

or a poem such as “The Home,”

where the speaker describes his father’s

“lips moving over the/ Armenian newspaper,”

give us a sense that this is a

small town in America. And the speaker

writes from a place of two cultures at

once. One will find the “Giragosian Grocery

Store” alongside “Cook’s Bait Shack”

in this collection of poems that embrace

the speaker’s hometown described as

“the kingdom / of lawns and trees.”

Most of Kherdian’s poems are written

in a narrative style, thus creating small

stories or glimpses into the speaker’s

Lory Bedikian received her MFA in poetry from the

University of Oregon. Her collection of poetry has

twice been selected as a finalist in the Crab Orchard

Series in Poetry Open Competition and twice in

the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award

Competition.

neighborhood. One poem, “The Song,”

stood out quite a bit from the others,

because it is less narrative in style, although

the content of the poem is similar

to the others in the book. Kherdian

compiles a list of moments and sounds

from the neighborhood that in turn creates

the music of this place and time. Instead

of one story or narrative about the

“ice-man” we receive several images that

conjure up the sense of sound that must

have been heard in one “summery home”

after the other. When we read the poem

we also can hear the “calling,” “tingling,”

“grunting” and “hammering.”

The Song

The rag man calling from

his horse-drawn wagon

the tingling bell

of the ice-cream man

the sharp pincers on ice

heaved over burlapped shoulders

by Jason Sohigian

TORONTO – The 20-minute film Trees

for Life: The Story of Armenia Tree Project

was named Best Short Documentary

at the Third Annual Pomegranate Film

Festival in Toronto last month.

Held September 26–28, the festival

showcased 31 films, including Burning

Rome, directed by Robert Kechichian,

and Hrant Dink: Heart of Two Nations,

directed by Nouritza Matossian.

As part of its Green Initiative, Armenia

Tree Project (ATP) partnered with

the Pomegranate Festival to offset the

carbon dioxide produced when guests

were flown to the event.

“Carbon dioxide is a leading contributor

to the problem of climate change,

so ATP is proud to work with the Pomegranate

Festival to offset these emissions

by planting trees in Armenia to

improve the quality of the global environment,”

stated Development Officer

Paul Yeghiayan, who represented ATP

at the festival.

Trees for Life, directed by Kennedy

Wheatley of Los Angeles, marks ATP’s

10th anniversary.

Narrated by David Dallakyan, a

young boy from the rural village of Aygut,

the film tells the story of ATP’s

Backyard Nursery Micro-Enterprise

Program, as well as the interrelated humanitarian

programs that have turned

this pilot project into an initiative that

of the grunting ice-man

coming up stairs

the bicycle-propelled

scissor and knife-sharpening man

there on the sidewalk of

our summery home

the blacksmith on the

block below hammering

his black apron

deflecting orange sparks

the reverberating sounds

in the city that once embodied me

the people whose poems

became my life

In several of Kherdian’s poems punctuation

is not used, as is the case in this

poem. It seems Kherdian – by not using

punctuation, which would create pauses

garnered an Energy Globe Award for

Sustainability at the European Parliament

this year.

“This film was truly a labor of love

and I was honored to be invited by

Carolyn Mugar to direct this film

about the important work ATP is doing,”

stated Mr. Wheatley, referring to

ATP’s founder. “And it is exciting that

they have developed a model that other

countries can follow. The people of

Armenia were unbelievably generous

to our crew – they instantly opened

their homes and their hearts to us.

“The ATP staff was amazing too – they

worked night and day along with us

during our challenging shoot,” added

the director. “It is a great honor to

or full stops – creates a feeling of continuity,

a feeling that we continue beyond

the poem, beyond the words. Even when

we are finished reading we are welcome

to feel and think further. Perhaps this

creates a sense that memory is unending,

reminiscence has no boundaries.

I chose this poem to be featured from

the book because the closing lines seem

to summarize what Kherdian’s book is

often about. It wants to retell narratives

from “the city that once embodied” him

and from “the people whose poems /

became” his life. And I think we can say

their lives became his poems, from sidewalks

where they stood to the languages

they spoke. Luckily we can now step into

that neighborhood when we step into

each poem.

f

connect:

davidkherdian.com

“The Song,” from The Neighborhood

Years, Bottom Dog Press, 2000. Reprinted

with permission.

Armenia Tree Project film Trees for Life wins Best

Short Documentary at Pomegranate Film Festival

Students from the ARS Day School in Toronto

show their enthusiasm for ATP’s newsletter

after viewing Trees for Life: The Story of Armenia

Tree Project.

have this film chosen as Best Short

Documentary. It is a fitting tribute

to Armenia Tree Project and its many

beneficiaries.”

The documentary was screened on

the afternoon of September 25. Festival

patrons were joined by hundreds

of students from the ARS Day School

in Toronto. “We were pleased that our

students were able to view the ATP

documentary since this program is

so vital for Armenia’s future,” stated

Principal Armen Martirossian. “We

hope the students will have the desire

to support ATP and together we can

build bridges for environmental education

and stewardship in Armenia.”

“On behalf of ATP, I would like to express

our gratitude to the Pomegranate

Film Festival and the Armenian

community of Toronto for their ongoing

support of our work in Armenia,”

said Mr. Yeghiayan.

Since 1994, Armenia Tree Project

has planted and restored more than

2,000,000 trees and created hundreds

of jobs for impoverished Armenians

in tree-regeneration programs. The

organization’s three tiered initiatives

are tree planting, community development

to reduce poverty and promote

self-sufficiency, and environmental

education to protect Armenia’s precious

natural resources.

connect:

www.armeniatree.org

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture

Copyright © 2008 by Armenian Reporter llc

All Rights Reserved

Contact arts@reporter.am with announcements

To advertise, write business@reporter.am or call 1-201-226-1995

On page C1: Lilit Davtyan, who was profiled in our Feb. 23 edition, c0-

anchors “The Hour,” Armenia TV’s news program. “We never report news

whose sources we can’t verify,” she said. “And we always strive to maintain

balance in our coverage.” For Armenia TV’s schedule, see page C11.

See an “ian” on the credits Watch a Hye on

your local news Write arts@reporter.am, and

we’ll get crackin’ to profile the son or daughter

of Hayk in an upcoming issue.

C2 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008


The road with no sheep.

Here and now

Braden King’s upcoming

film is an ode to the

wondrous mystique of

Armenia

by Tamar

Kevonian

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Award-winning

filmmaker Braden King is preparing to

shoot a feature-length film, titled Here,

in Armenia in the spring of 2009. He is

in Los Angeles for a series of meetings in

connection with the project. He arrives

for the scheduled appointment at a café

located in a bohemian enclave of the city

dressed in a long-sleeve, white buttoneddown

shirt, which clearly marks him

as a non-native of Southern California,

where temperatures in these early-October

days are still hovering near a hundred

degrees.

At 37, King still has his boyish good

looks, accentuated by a mop of hair reminiscent

of a young John Lennon. He

takes a seat and looks around for the

waiter to order an ice tea. It’s a busy

Sunday afternoon and there isn’t a waiter

to be found. Never mind.

Shushi Main Square.

Braden King.

King was introduced to the idea of

filming in Armenia by Garine Torossian,

a close friend and fellow filmmaker.

Prior to that he had no knowledge of

the small country nestled at the base of

Mount Ararat. His friend’s suggestion

planted the seed and over the course of

a year he began to notice bits of information

about it in newspapers and on

television programs. Although he was

familiar with the work of Parajanov and

other Soviet-era Armenian filmmakers,

he knew practically nothing about Armenia,

its people, or its history.

Film is a medium that combines all

the elements of art, music, acting, and

photography, all of which King experimented

with throughout his life, beginning

in high school. He was heavily influenced

by the films of John Hughes

and iconic movies such as Easy Rider, all

of them having complex themes of journeys

and discoveries. His first featurelength

film, Dutch Harbor: Where the

Seat Breaks Its Back, set in Alaska’s Aleutian

Islands, examines the transition of

a small village from a remote outpost to

a very active international commercialfishing

community. “I could have chosen

the easier route, filming another romantic

comedy set in New York City, but do

we really need another one of those” he

says to explain his choices.

Here tells the story of Will Shepard,

an American satellite-mapping engineer

contracted to create a new, more

accurate survey of the country of Armenia.

His work is referred to as “groundtruthing.”

In the course of his travels,

Will meets Gadarine Najarian, in a rural

hotel. Tough and intriguing, she’s an expatriate

Armenian art photographer on

her first trip back to the country she left

years ago, passionately trying to figure

out what kind of relationship – if any

- she still has with her home country. The

two lone travelers instantly and unconsciously

bond and impulsively decide to

continue their travels together. They experience

the trip in their own individual

ways and, ultimately, through each other’s

eyes. Will is continually challenged

with erroneous data as his trip descends

toward failure, while Gadarine encounters

more personal static: nationality,

culture, family, old friends. As she starts

to discover a new relationship with her

homeland, Will begins to question the

solitary life he has chosen. It is a journey

of self-discovery.

A fitting locale

As soon as King arrived in Yerevan, it became

apparent to him that Armenia was

the place to set the story of Here, which

he has co-written with Dani Valent. “I arrived

late at night, checked into the Ani

Hotel, and, after a few hours of sleep, hit

the streets to familiarize myself with the

city,” he recalls. “Around the corner from

the hotel, on Abovyan Street, I ran across

a street vendor selling country and geographical

maps. It was ironic and fitting.”

He was impressed with all that the

country had to offer. “Armenia has layer

after layer of beauty and themes,” he

says. “The country became a third cowriter

of the film.” According to a survey

of European visitors to Armenia at the

end of their trip, they tend to feel that

their journey has been incomplete, that

there wasn’t enough time to discover all

that there was to know about Armenia.

For the purposes of Here, King was

looking for a place that combined the elements

of solitary travel and the search

for identity. “I was trying to find a place

where the national symbol, like Mount

Ararat, is in another country,” he explains.

“The country seemed fictional.”

He needed to pin the themes of the film

to a specific location, and Armenia fit

the bill.

The screenplay began as an exploration

of atmosphere and tone. King recalls:

“I’ve traveled cross-country in the

U.S. alone and I’ve traveled internationally

alone. Dani had similar experiences.

We were searching for a vessel and

structure about the affect of traveling in

that way, the personal journey, and the

Continued on page C10 m

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008

C3


Two degrees of separation

Manuel Kanian is

currently appearing in The

Vampyre, at Pennsylvania’s

Footlighters Theater

by Elyssa

Karanian

PHILADELPHIA – It’s September 26,

2008, and I’m sitting in a conference room

interviewing Manuel (Mano) Kanian. Exactly

one year ago, Mano was sitting on

a plane, returning to the United States

after an extended stay in Armenia.

I met Mano for the first time while

we were both living and working in

Hayastan. My good friend Sevana, who

had been introduced to him earlier and

was surprised at my initial ignorance,

described him this way: “He’s the super-tall,

long-haired, European-looking,

diaspora-Armenian (hot) actor who was

in Mi Vakhetsir.” Confused by all the

“dashy” descriptions, and not even (at

the time) knowing what mi vakhetsir

(don’t be scared) meant, let alone that it

was a movie, I just nodded. Two weeks

later I met him and finally understood

the hyphenations. He was indeed a

quintessential cool guy.

Now, one year later, away from the

craziness of a summer in Hayastan and

ensconced in a quiet, air-conditioned

conference room in downtown Philadelphia,

I get to find out what is behind all

of Manuel Kanian’s hyphens.

Philadelphia and Toronto

Mano got his start in acting at the Armenian

Sisters’ Academy in Radnor, Pennsylvania,

where he frequently played the

leads in Vartanants shows. His interest in

acting remained piqued throughout high

school and Mano eventually found himself

declaring a major in theater at York

University in Toronto. During his freshman

year, Mano was acting in Hamazkayin

theater under the direction of Seta

Keshishian. At the same time, Atom

Egoyan was casting for Ararat. Egoyan

asked Keshishian if she knew anyone

who could fill the role of Raffi. She recommended

Mano.

Before the audition, Egoyan graciously

met with Mano several times to assist

him with the script and the reading process.

While Mano did not get the part of

Raffi, Egoyan decided to give him an “under

five” (a role with less than five lines).

Ararat was shot in Toronto in 2001,

when Mano was still an undergraduate

at York. “I learned a lot from being on

that set about how small film has to be,”

he tells me. “It’s all here,” he says as he

draws his hands to his face and makes

a finger-cage around his eyes. “It’s the

thought process that comes through

without dialogue. That much I learned

because I didn’t look the part. I learned

that by watching [Egoyan’s] films.”

Though he went on to perform in a

number of independent student films

and plays during college, the premiere

of Ararat, on September 4, 2002, marked

Mano’s first appearance in a professional

production.

Ararat opens doors

After Ararat, Mano worked with pop sensation

Arsen Grigoryan, appearing in an

ethereal (think tall, breezy grass, fields

of wildflowers, and wind-blown clothes

lines strung with white cotton sheets)

music video, alongside Nazenie Hovhannisyan,

for Grigoryan’s song “Yare Martu

Yara Gdah.” He also worked with Roger

Kupelian on the trailer of East of Byzantium,

and did commercial voice-overs for

Armenia Marriott.

Most noteworthy, however, and the

highlight of my friend Sevana’s initially

confusing description of the one-andonly

Manuel Kanian, was Mano’s work

on Mi Vakhetsir, Hrach Keshishian’s film

about the Karabakh war. Mano played

a principal role, appearing as the Diaspora-Armenian.

Mi Vakhetsir was shot in Karabakh

for nearly two months in 2006. The actors

and production crew stayed in Stepanakert

but filmed all over the country,

with a majority of the fighting scenes

Right: “The passion

to act was born within

me,” Mano says.

Left: Promotional

poster from Mi

Vakhetsir (Don’t

be Afraid). Below:

Mano appearing as

David Khan in the

play “Social Security”

which appeared at the

Footlighters theater in

Berwin.

filmed in Aghdam. Despite the somber

nature of the subject matter, Mano remembers

his experience as “fun.” “We all

lived together in one house and we became

a big family – we were like brothers,”

he recalls. “When we had days off, we

would go out and see plays in the city.”

Mano has fond memories of Armenia.

“The actors were very welcoming,”

he says. “They loved the fact that I was

there and trying to work in Armenia

and on the Armenian cause.” That love

The “Bacon Number”

The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a

game, invented in 1994 by three students

at Albright College, which is

based on the small-world concept and

the assumption that any actor can be

linked to Kevin Bacon through the

roles he or she has played. The “Bacon

Number” of an actor is the number of

the degrees of separation between he

or she and Bacon.

When I first tried to figure out if Mano

had a “Bacon Number,” I came up (excitedly!)

with five. Here is my chart:

1. Mano worked with Atom Egoyan

on the movie Ararat (2002).

was returned tenfold. Mano extended

his trip many times to accommodate

more work – including volunteering at

the 2007 Golden Apricot Film Festival

in Yerevan. (He had plenty of experience

in film festivals, being one of the original

committee members responsible for

starting the Pomegranate Armenian

Film Festival in Toronto.)

Eventually, though, it was time to return

to the States. “I regretted coming

home like three days after I got back,”

he tells me of his return to Philadelphia.

“In Armenia I really felt like I was an actor.

Walking around the streets, people

know you… and people would come up

to me, they would encourage me.”

That encouragement is what drives

Mano forward to achieve his “ultimate

goal of becoming a Yerevan-based Hollywood

actor.” But how does Mano deal

with discouragement “Look,” he says,

“much of my work has been historically

based. The problem with that is that

there is much more fuel for people to

judge and criticize. When you hear negatives

about your work, and your work is

about Armenian history, you take it that

much more personally… it matters that

much more. But my main reasoning for

getting into film is to educate. If I had

my choice, I would always do Armenian

stories. And I truly think the positives

outweigh the negatives.”

Mano will appear in the stage adaptation

of John Polidori’s thriller The Vampyre,

through November 1, at Footlighters

Theater in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.

For show times, dates, and tickets, visit

footlighterstheater.com.

f

connect:

mailme@manuelkanian.com

2. Actor Scott Speedman is staring in

Egoyan’s new film, Adoration (2008).

3. Speedman co-starred with Kurt

Russell in Dark Blue (2002).

4. Russell appeared in Vanilla Sky

(2001) with Tom Cruise.

5. Cruise appeared in A Few Good

Men (1992) with Kevin Bacon.

When I casually threw into a conversation

with Mano that his “Bacon

Number” was five, he corrected me:

“Nope,” he said, “it’s two. Kevin Bacon

played the role of Lanny in the

2005 movie Where the Truth Lies, written

and directed by Atom Egoyan. I

worked with Egoyan on Ararat.” Mano

ties with Michelle Pfeiffer.

C4 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008


Samvel Hambardzumyan: art is his air!

by Jo Nelsen

GLENDALE, Calif. – “There is nothing

more beautiful than the human body,”

Samvel Hambardzumyan says. “In my

dreams and in my art, the body is either

loving or about to fly!”

Both choices are pretty appealing to

me. So is the work of this immensely

talented artist living in Glendale.

Intense, with piercing dark eyes and

salt-and-pepper hair in a ponytail, Hambardzumyan

is a slight, trim man with a

healthy sense of humor. He is comfortably

clad in sandals, blue jeans, and a

bright orange shirt when we meet in his

home. A large oil-on-canvas triptych of

swirling bodies stretches wall to wall in

the living room. Framed oils are stacked

on the floor leaning against another wall,

and imposing sculptures are positioned

here and there. Hambardzumyan’s two

sons come and go, and one feels instantly

at home in the presence of this worldclass

artist.

Conversation reveals a spirited, passionate,

and intelligent perspective

– the result of a lifetime devoted to art.

In times like today, talk of taxes and

stock markets fills the air. It is inspiring

to encounter someone who believes

art is also vital, and pursues it at all

costs. Longtime acquaintance and former

gallery operator Gayane Galstyan,

who drops by to assist with translation,

says aptly of Hambardzumyan: “Art is

his air.”

Born in Yerevan in 1953, Hambardzumyan

graduated from the Yerevan

Fine Arts and Theatre Institute in 1979.

His works are housed in museums all

over Europe, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine,

Lithuania, and Latvia, and private collections

in many other countries. He has

had more than 20 one-man shows and

today he is gearing up for his newest

exhibition, to be presented at Left Coast

Galleries in Studio City, California, from

October 23 until November 24.

Stairways # 2, oil on canvas, triptich, 62x32 each.

Samvel working.

The importance of freedom

“Freedom” is a recurring word in Hambardzumyan’s

dialogue. He credits his father

and mother for allowing him to develop

without restrictions. One of three

brothers, all of whom have shown artistic

talents early on, Hambardzumyan emphasizes:

“My family was full of love and

grace.”

That same love and grace are evident

in the family Hambardzumyan is part of

now. He notes that many artists deprive

themselves of family life to pursue their

art. His wife of 27 years, Vergine, supports

and understands his dedication to

art, and he is grateful. There were many

times in Armenia, he explains, when

she had to take care of the family alone.

During 1982–84, when he received a

generous scholarship to study etching

techniques in Moscow, he was away for

half of the year.

It’s little wonder Hambardzumyan

came to America at the invitation of

the U.S. government. Impressed with

his portfolio, wide representation in

Europe, and prestigious awards, the

government extended a VIP invitation

to him and his family. In 2002, with

his wife and two sons, Vardan and Narek,

Hambardzumyan left his big studio

in Yerevan to create a new one in

his home here.

Nature of his work

Though Hambardzumyan works in different

mediums, always present is his

obsession with the human body – how

it moves, struggles, makes love or war.

His quest is for balance. The figures are

sensual, soulful, sometimes grotesque,

and seldom rooted to the ground. Every

image bristles with movement, energy,

and intensity.

When forces are in opposition, arms

are flailing, hands grasping for a hold,

and musculature strains in tortuous

poses. Men and women clash with their

surroundings as they struggle for balance

and achievement. Juxtaposed are

erotic love scenes where forces draw

family and lovers so tightly together

they appear to melt into one entity.

He does not paint the details. Outlines

are blurred and broad gestures communicate

in an exaggerated way: warmth

conveyed by robust circles, and anguish

heightened by entangling, elongated,

taut lines. The artist coaxes us to look

closer to find the face, the eyes… the

meanings.

His works are allegorical. He creates

monstrous images with political overtones,

often haunted by mythological

creatures larger than life and more

frightening. Settings are not specific

Carmen, 59 x 28, oil on canvas.

or limited. “While one might identify

atrocities [committed against] the Armenians

in a painting,” Hambardzumyan

points out, “Iraq and Darfur can

be seen in the same image. Everything I

do has two parts, two meanings.”

His most recent undertaking is clay

sculpture, which he had the privilege

of developing at the Pasadena Art Center

in 2007. “Samvel is always moving

forward and challenging himself in his

work,” Rachelle Ryan, owner of Left

Coast Galleries, notes. His sculpture

will be included in the upcoming exhibition.

Soldier & Angel is my favorite. It’s

Continued on page C6 m

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008

C5


Samvel Hambardzumyan: art is his air!

n Continued from page C5

big and beautiful, haunting and unlike

anything I’ve seen. Standing almost

life-size, a soldier faces out from

one side and an angel from the other.

Strong clay is utilized for the main

structure. Details and color are layered,

clay on clay, after the first firing.

The color turquoise, often an accent

in Hambardzumyan’s oils, is incorporated.

It adds a mystical element. (He

tells me he came to love the color in

Egypt.) It delights Hambardzumyan

that he uses the colors from his painting

in his clay work, and vice versa.

Combining everything is an exciting

concept to him.

Significant is his choice of clay – which

is so susceptible to breakage – rather

than a sturdier material, to represent

a warrior. And, philosophically, who

would not wish for an angel to accompany

every soldier on the field of battle

The self

While Hambardzumyan depicts people

involved in group activities, his paintings

reveal his belief that ultimately

each human stands alone with his or her

own shadow. “Every person has life with

others and life alone,” he states.

“Personally, I like my studio, my technique,

my mind, and my interests. I’m

doing all me, all the time.”

“He is like a snail,” his son, Narek, interjects

with a touch of humor.

Hambardzumyan wants to use his

time, not waste it. Even though he did

teach in Yerevan at the Art Academy and

remains interested in his students, who

continue his etching techniques, he is

most interested in his own ideas – especially

the idea of freedom.

“Freedom from what” I ask. He shrugs,

as though it were obvious, and replies,

“Errands… everything that keeps one

away from art, away from being able to

completely devote oneself.”

“When I am working I go into a different

world,” Hambardzumyan explains.

“I am doing my art with love, but not everything

is easy. I move with today’s inspiration…

contemporary methods, but

my ideas have been living a long time.

They are for now, but also for a hundred

years ago and for the future.”

He adds: “I am aiming for eternity. Infinity.”

Either is a mighty goal.

Without classification

Asked if any particular style describes his

work, he says, “Maybe I have a style, but

it will be described in the future. I do not

work thinking about style.” Likewise, he

does not think about color as a separate

category. It’s always in relation to forms

and harmony. He believes, “Dynamism is

clarified by color. Colors bring particular

forces to the composition.”

“My admiration is for ancient art,”

Hambardzumyan says of his influences,

“because after that everyone used those

ideas.”

He refuses to cite specific artists he

admires, noting that he is attracted to

various epochs rather than individuals.

He did reveal the names of some

who’ve been a notable part of his

education in the art of etching: Goya,

Above: Love# 15, etching, 7.5x6. Couple, 20x16, oil on canvas. Dark Secret, oil on canvas 12x16.

Marionets, oil on canvas,triptich, 28x20 each.

Everlasting Theme,etching 5.5 x 7.5.

Doré, Jansen, and the French-Armenian

Edgar Shahin, for whom he has

done a one-man show at his museum

in Paris.

Literature and music are big influences.

“In my paintings are my dreams,

events that took place in the literature

I have read, and impressions from reality.”

Hambardzumyan often has music

– classical or jazz – playing while he’s

working. “I see music in artworks,” he

says. “My first response to a painting

will often be to ask, ‘What kind of music

is this’”

Star on the shore, oil on canvas, 30,5x40,5.

The future

Hambardzumyan has been working to

establish a base in the U.S., but now

he is beginning to think about turning

his attention back to Europe. He has

many invitations to do more exhibitions

there.

Wherever he may be, the Armenian

connection remains an important element

in his work and worldview. “Whatever

Armenians do, they dedicate it to

Armenia,” he explains. “Everyone wants

to do good for Armenia. It’s in my blood;

I am a product of that culture, and there

is an Armenian factor in my pieces. But

my art is global.”

Asked about his advice for young artists,

Hambardzumyan offers a humorous

analogy. “For those who are not

‘sick’ with The Artist’s Disease, there are

many ways to live a happy life,” he says.

“For artists, like myself, who can conceive

of no other occupation, love that

sickness!”

f

connect:

leftcoastgalleries.com

(818) 760-7010

C6 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008


Intersecting lines

Art and architecture

converge in Ruben

Amirian’s work

by Silva

Sevlian

GLENDALE, Calif. – Ruben Amirian is an

architect, an art collector, and an abstract

painter with a knack for experimentation.

At his home in Glendale, the walls

are almost entirely covered with paintings

by a variety of artists, collected by

Amirian over the course of several decades.

Scattered between the artworks

are Amirian’s own canvases – abstract

compositions brimming with obscure

shapes and vivid colors, and displaying

a distinct architectural imprint.

“Thinking of how art shapes a room

makes me want to create spaces to accept

art,” Amirian says.

His collection includes a 1974 William

Saroyan watercolor, a possession he said

he is proud to display in his living room.

“Saroyan is just different,” Amirian explains.

“In the diaspora we have grown up

with symbols, and Saroyan is one of them.”

After studying at Tehran University

of Fine Arts, Amirian moved to the U.S.

and attended Howard University, a historically

Black college in Washington,

D.C. Today Amirian, who holds a Master’s

degree in architecture, heads his

own architectural firm, Ruben Amirian

and Associates, in Glendale. Among his

specialties is city and regional planning.

Amirian is also an advocate of creating

exhibition space for local artists. His input

during city-planning meetings has helped

convince Glendale officials to allow developers

more square footage if they provide

space for art-related activities.

His hope is to create more galleries

within the city, he says, adding: “Any kind

of art needs feedback and feedback for a

visual artist is an exhibit – how much can

you paint and store in your studio”

As a painter, Amirian continues to thrive

on the interconnectedness of fine art and

architecture. When it comes to designing

a house, “I am always aware of the spaces,”

he explains. “I look at a wall and see how a

painting will affect that room.”

Amirian likes to create extensive series

of fine-art works around a given

theme. Recently he has begun painting

books of varying sizes with folded pages,

which he glues onto the volumes.

“If you are not obsessed, the artwork

is not going to be as good,” he says. That

obsession is evidenced by the fact that

some of his paintings have taken up to

five years to complete.

“I can’t stand in front of a canvas and just

paint,” he says. “I have to do a lot of planning.

I sketch and sketch until it develops.”

One of Amirian’s series, “Armenian

Rhapsody,” depicts the movements of

Armenian dance. He says he began the

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008

Ruben Amirian has a knack for experimentation.

Abstract composition brimming with avid colors.

series one day while sitting in front of

his television and watching an Armenian-dance

program.

A compulsive sketcher, Amirian has

several albums of thumbnail sketches,

which he uses as reference material for

his paintings. “I always have paper in my

pocket and I sketch,” he says.

Though Amirian cites many influences,

including Edward Hopper, he notes that

his main inspiration, especially in his

early years, has come from his mother,

herself a painter.

Amirian is also an avid collector of unusual

objects such as miniature painted

cows and old-fashioned meat grinders.

Such nostalgic items hark back to his

childhood in Iran, he notes and continues:

”I originally wanted to make a series of related

drawings [of the meat grinders], but

then the interest of sketching them disappeared,

so I started collecting them.” f

28”hX22”w, acrylic on canvas paper, mounted on

canvas, 2006.

The Toast, 40”hX32”w, acrylic on convas, 2004.

Amiran says that his

main inspiration has

come from his mother,

herself a painter.

C7


How I came to know Saroyan

The story of a poster

by Zaven

Khanjian

This article was originally published in Asbarez,

on the twin occasions of the newspaper’s

and William Saroyan’s centenaries.

The following is an abridged version.

I had been familiar with the author of

My Name Is Aram since my teenage years,

though I never had the chance to meet

that literary giant in person.

In 1979, just as political upheavals in

the Middle East led so many of us to

the United States – cradle of freedom,

democracy, and justice – Saroyan, disillusioned

with his country and seeking

an alternative milieu, continued to

spend a part of the year in Paris, where

he had established a parallel residence

since 1958.

Despite his jocular expectation that

he would be an exception to the rule, Saroyan

passed away in 1981, in his native

Fresno. It was at about this time, when

we all struggled to create an anchor for

cultural identity on the shores of the

Pacific, that serendipity allowed me

to learn of the famous Saroyan saying

which had been turned into a poster:

“I should like to see any power of the

world destroy this race, this small tribe

of unimportant people, whose wars have

all been fought and lost, whose structures

have been crumbled, literature is

unread, music is unheard, and prayers

are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy

Armenia. See if you can do it. Send

them into the desert without bread or

water. Burn their homes and churches.

Then see if they will not laugh, sing and

pray again. For when two of them meet

anywhere in the world, see if they will

not create a New Armenia.”

This was a raw, powerful invitation, a

challenge, not by a Middle Eastern intellectual

who had immigrated to America,

but an Armenian-American author

who wrote only in English. Those few

lines are a summary of Armenian history,

whereby, without mincing his

words, and after untying the knot of our

misfortunes, disappointments, and defeats,

Saroyan hurls, like a bomb, the

fact of the Armenian people’s capacity

to survive, its will to rise from the ashes,

as though a phoenix. This was indeed

a message that, even if berthed in the

subconscious of Armenian individuals,

deserved to permanently grace the walls

of their homes, clubs, and workplaces.

The first poster

In the spring of 1982, during a visit to

my brother at his home, I saw the blackand-white

Saroyan poster for the first

time. His words were placed like a string

of pearls next to his charcoal-drawn face,

splendid mane of hair, and thick mustache.

The passage sent chills down my

spine. Naturally, I wanted to have a copy

“The point, after all, was to spread Saroyan’s words and we had succeeded in doing that.”

The famous Saroyan saying turned into a poster.

of the poster, which showed the following

information in one corner at the bottom:

“Copyright 1982 by Peter Nakashian.

All rights reserved.”

Relying on my brother’s memory, I

found an order form in the newsletter

of a compatriotic association in Las

Vegas. The poster could be purchased

from an office that had a San Francisco

address. At once I placed an order and

waited impatiently for my poster. But

nothing came of it. I called the office.

No one answered. As we often visited

San Francisco to see relatives who had

lived there since 1969, I decided to pay

a visit to the office in person, hoping

to meet Nakashian and have a discussion

about Saroyan. I went. I was disappointed

yet again, as what I thought to

be a downtown suite turned out to be

nothing but a P.O. box. Running out of

options, I mailed a note to the address.

Once again, silence was all I got. By that

time, as I had tried everything to contact

Nakashian and failed, I was worried

about him.

In those days, a friend and I established

the Great Carpet Company in

Glendale and our staff included a talented

graphic designer, Mher Tavitian.

Eureka! I finally had stumbled on a

solution to my Saroyan-poster quandary.

Tavitian went on to create a Saroyan

poster of our own, with an even more

impressive portrait of the author and

a verbatim reproduction of his famous

saying.

My research showed that Saroyan’s

saying was excerpted from a story titled

“The Armenian and the Armenian,”

which had appeared in his book Inhale

and Exhale, published by Random House

in 1936. I duly contacted the publisher

and asked for permission to reprint Saroyan’s

saying. I was told that the copyright

period had expired and I was free

to reproduce the text, as long as I gave

proper credit to Saroyan.

Birth of a phenomenon

With the copyright of the new poster

now held by our company, Wizmen Enterprises,

we went to work. Arax Printing

in Pasadena toiled around the clock to

produce the first run, and, by fall 1982,

ads in the worldwide Armenian press

announced the availability of the newly

designed poster.

As the orders poured in by their thousands,

we soon sold out the entire stock

and did a second printing. The posters

were distributed not only by ourselves

but major Armenian resellers such as

the St. Vartan Bookstore and the National

Association of Armenian Studies

and Research on the East Coast, and the

Abril, Berj, and Sardarabad bookstores

in Los Angeles. Saroyan had spoken to

Armenians, penetrated their souls. The

posters were bought by workers and

business owners, students and teachers,

university clubs, churches, and cultural

organizations. The product made

an ideal present for Christmas and even

Valentine’s.

At the same time, quoting from the

poster became an ubiquitous phenomenon.

Governor George Deukmejian, to

whom we had gifted a copy of the poster,

often referred to Saroyan’s words. Children,

too, recited them during school

events or at home while parents choked

with emotion and pride.

The poster orders kept coming in,

for five years, from hundreds of cities

across the U.S. as well as Canada, South

America, Europe, Africa, the Middle

East, and even Far Eastern countries.

The product’s success, however, also

gave rise to a less-desirable phenomenon:

soon enough, unauthorized reproductions

mushroomed, with imitations

of the poster being printed in several

countries including the U.S., Canada,

Lebanon, and Syria. The new variations

were produced on wood, bronze, marble,

or fabric. The rights held by Wizmen

Enterprises were utterly trampled upon.

Nobody seemed to care about that bothersome

matter called a copyright.

Nevertheless, we had enough reason

to feel gratified. The point, after all, was

to spread Saroyan’s words, and we had

succeeded in doing that. Profit margins

were irrelevant.

Eventually a number of new Saroyan

posters, with the same textual content

but different portraits of the author,

were designed. One was the work of Los

Angeles artist Arpiar Janoyan; others

were produced by the William Saroyan

Society.

A warning

In December 1986, I received a letter from

Robert Setrakian, president of the William

Saroyan Society. Up to that point, I

had been unaware of the existence of the

organization, which had been founded by

Saroyan himself, in 1966.

In his letter, Setrakian informed me

that the William Saroyan Society held

all rights to the works of the author and

advised me to at once cease “exploitation”

of his saying.

My correspondence with Setrakian

continued until April 1987. In the process,

I detailed to him all the steps

which Wizmen Enterprises had taken

to ensure that there was no copyright

infringement. While Setrakian took me

to task for not having obtained written

permission from Random House

to produce the posters, he nonetheless

suggested that our respective organizations

sign a contract for sharing future

Continued on page C11 m

C8 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008


Visual Arts

And the beat goes on:

Predator Cycling and the

Abbot Kinney Cultural

Scene

by Tamar Sinanian

and Taleen Tertzakian

Tamar Sinanian holds a master’s degree in contemporary

art from Sothebys Institute in London. She

is also a co-founder of TNT Art, an art consulting

company. Taleen Tertzakian is an attorney and

holds a master’s degree in Russian, East European,

and Eurasian Studies from Stanford University. She

is also a co-founder of TNT Art, an art consulting

company. You can reach them or any of the other

contributors to Critics’ Forum at comments@criticsforum.org.

This and all other articles published in

this series are available online at www.criticsforum.

org. To sign up for a weekly electronic version of

new articles, go to www.criticsforum.org/join. Critics’

Forum is a group created to discuss issues relating

to Armenian art and culture in the diaspora.

A red wooden picket fence greets passers-by

on Venice Beach’s famous Abbot

Kinney Boulevard, inviting them to enter

the casual and friendly atmosphere of the

Predator Cycling bicycle showroom. Just

beyond the fence is a courtyard, speckled

with red tables with white umbrellas,

where Angelenos, including both culture

and bike enthusiasts, gather throughout

the week for seminars, film viewings, art

exhibits, drinks, music, and just to hang

out.

Predator Cycling, “Predator” for short,

established by 23 year old Aram Goganian,

exudes the community-oriented

character of the street it adorns. Much

as on a typical European street, store

owners and patrons of Abbot Kinney intermingle

each day at various cafes and

bars, and throughout the month at various

“meet and greet” events organized

by the community.

One such event is First Fridays, which

takes place on the first Friday of each

month during the summer months and

has recently been extended to the first

Friday of every month. During these

evening events, participating businesses

in the community open their doors

to the public, offering drinks and music

in a casual party-like atmosphere. A

glass of wine in hand, passers-by hop

from business to business, meeting and

greeting. And Predator cycling is at the

center of all the activity, helping sponsor

the event and always attracting a sizable

crowd of its own.

Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is

estimated to bring in more than 80%

of Venice’s revenue, is composed of a

variety of small, unique businesses that

make every effort to stand out. This

strength of identity and character stems

from a rich, and somewhat sordid, past.

Mr. Abbot Kinney, the wealthy tobacco

mogul after whom the street is named,

set out in the 1890s to create a “Venice

of America”. He sought to turn the land

south of Ocean Park through the Del

Rey peninsula into a resort town reminiscent

of Venice, Italy by embellishing

it with canals, gondola rides, amusement

piers, and various other entertainments.

But a number of set-backs over the

next few decades jeopardized Mr. Kinney’s

plans. In the 1920s, the city of Los

Angeles annexed Venice and sought

to rid the town of its honky-tonk atmosphere.

By 1930, oil was discovered

on the peninsula, leading to pollution

of the residential and beach areas. The

street and pier were closed for part of

the day during the mid-1940’s, due to

government-imposed curfews during

the Second World War.

By the 1950s, Venice was in a state

of decay and a far cry from Mr. Kinney’s

vision. However, in the 1960s,

the “Beats,” a group of American writers

who were known for their rejection

of mainstream American values, their

creativity and their non-conformist perspective,

moved into the Venice area.

They brought with them their Bohemian

lifestyle, much of it revolving around

art and poetry and meetings in coffee

houses. It is precisely this bohemian

and artsy energy that helped revamp

Venice and attracted Aram to set up

shop on Abbot Kinney Blvd, serving the

interests of its cultural as well as cycling

aficionados.

A native of nearby Santa Monica,

Aram’s interest in bikes started early.

He began racing bikes in local and

state racing tournaments at the age of

twelve. Fed up with what he describes

as “inefficient” bikes available in the

market, he started designing his own

racing bikes. According to Aram, “bikes

weren’t being built by bike designers,

but by marketing departments, as

Above: First Fridays

with Martiros Adalyan.

Left: Predator Sign.

bike companies paid more attention

to colors and aesthetics than to design

and ride. They were not built by racers

for racers. Rather, they were built

for looks and sales.” By 2000, Aram

decided to take matters into his own

hands and launched Predator Cycling,

working from home. He reengineered

bikes to be more efficient, by collaborating

with top designers around the

world, who shared their research with

him. He raced bikes he designed and

started beating people that he wasn’t

supposed to beat and winning races he

wasn’t supposed to win.

Aram attributes his wins to the highly

personalized fit of Predator bikes. According

to Aram, Predator is one of the

few companies that conduct in-house

analysis and testing of all bikes, backing

each model with its own particular

research and data. Although Predator

has made primarily professional racing

bikes for the first eight years of its

existence, the company has more recently

begun building bikes for cycling

enthusiasts – people who ride for the

pleasure of it, many residents of Abbott

Kinney and the communities surrounding

it.

At first, Aram tried to get bike shops

to carry Predator bikes but received rejection

after rejection, because Predator

did not have the name recognition

the bike shops were looking for. Because

primarily professional cyclists

rode Predator bikes, sponsors’ names,

not the Predator brand, would appear

on the frames. In addition, the Predator

“fit process,” the process cyclists

would go through to get fitted for a

bike, was too difficult and time-consuming

for the stores to take on. According

to Aram, it takes between eight

months and a year to train a bike shop

employee to fit someone for a bike, and

“bike shops didn’t care enough about

the fit to meet the standard Predator

wanted to meet”.

By 2008, Aram had decided Predator

Cycling needed a home of its own. He

chose Venice because he felt that Predator

would fit right into the counter-culture

community of small, one-of-a-kind

businesses. It turns out that Venice

is also mapped out perfectly for local

“rides” (or cycling routes) in Los Angeles,

which made the location all the more

appealing. Since the grand opening of

the showroom in March 2008, Aram has

not only embraced the Abbot Kinney

community but has contributed to its

cultural scene.

Predator now manufactures a cruiserlike

bike called “The Abbot”, named in

honor of the street. “The Abbot” is a

hand-built hybrid constructed entirely

of California-made parts and is built according

to the same standard as all the

other bikes Predator manufactures. But

it has a special feature that makes it a

particularly good fit for its surroundings.

Aram describes “The Abbot” as

a “café racer”, carrying its rider effortlessly

from one local café to another. It

has proven to be the preferred mode of

transportation for locals traveling up

and down the boulevard, not to mention

a fitting image for the seamless

blending of culture and everyday life in

Abbot Kinney.

In addition to running his bicycle

showroom, therefore, Aram enjoys

partaking in First Fridays each month,

since he believes that art and community

are an inextricable part of Predator’s

cycling and business culture and a

crucial component of life in the Abbot

Kinney district. Aram collaborated with

the authors for Predator’s inaugural

First Friday in March 2008. The evening

featured the work of Martiros Adalyan.,

The event proved a success, attracting

not only Abbot Kinney regulars but people

from the surrounding communities,

including a large contingent from the

Armenian community.

Martiros’ gothic canvases carpeted

the walls of the courtyard, as a deejay

performed in the background while attendees

sipped wine. The energy and

interest at the Predator open house convinced

Aram and the authors to collaborate

on future First Fridays, which they

did during the summer months of June

and August. The June exhibit featured

the art work of Greg Beylerian, Cynthia

Kossayan, and Sophia Gasparian. In August,

a collaboration with Black Maria

Gallery brought to the event a diverse

array of art from its own gallery. Predator

and the authors are now in the process of

planning the next First Fridays art event,

slated for the beginning of next year. The

aim is to help keep the vision of Mr. Kinney

alive and the beat of Abbot Kinney

Boulevard going.

f

All Rights Reserved: Critics’ Forum, 2008. Exclusive

to the Armenian Reporter.

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008

C9


Program Grid

3 – 9 November

EST PST

22:00 1:00

22:30 1:30

23:00 2:00

23:30 2:30

0:30 3:30

1:30 4:30

2:30 5:30

3:30 6:30

4:00 7:00

4:30 7:30

5:00 8:00

6:00 9:00

7:00 10:00

8:00 11:00

8:30 11:30

9:00 12:00

9:30 12:30

10:00 13:00

11:00 14:00

12:00 15:00

12:30 15:30

13:30 16:30

14:00 17:00

15:00 18:00

16:00 19:00

16:30 19:30

17:00 20:00

18:00 21:00

18:30 21:30

19:15 22:15

19:40 22:40

20:30 23:30

21:30 24:30

3 November 4 November 5 November 6 November 7 November 8 November

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Bumerang

Armenian Wedding

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Armenian

Movie

PS CLUB

Cool Program

Tele Kitchen

Bari Luys

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

PS CLUB

Cool Program

Armenian Wedding

Weekend News

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Tele Kitchen

Like A Wave

YO YO

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

News

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Bernard Show

Bari Luys

News

Bumerang

Armenian Wedding

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Tele Kitchen

Bari Luys

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Armenian Wedding

News

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Tele Kitchen

Like A Wave

YO YO

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

News

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Bernard Show

Bari Luys

News

Drop Of Honey

Armenian Wedding

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Tele Kitchen

Bari Luys

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Armenian Wedding

News

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Tele Kitchen

Like A Wave

YO YO

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

News

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Bernard Show

Bari Luys

News

Drop Of Honey

PS Club

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Tele Kitchen

Bari Luys

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Gyanki Keene

Cool Program

Boomerang

News

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Tele Kitchen

Like A Wave

YO YO

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

News

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Bernard Show

Bari Luys

News

Discovery

Cool Program

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Tele Kitchen

Bari Luys

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Boomerang

News

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Tele Kitchen

Like A Wave

YO YO

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

News

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Bernard Show

Bari Luys

News

Discovery

Cool Program

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Express

The Armenian

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

A Drop of Honey

News

CLONE

Fathers & Sons

Express

Like A Wave

Bumerang

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Armenian

Movie

News

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Bernard Show

The Armenian

News

9 November

Sunday

Dar

Cool Program

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Armenian

Movie

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Express

The Armenian

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

A Drop of Honey

Weekend News

CLONE

Fathers & Sons

Express

Like A Wave

Bumerang

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Dar

Discovery

A Drop Of Honey

Weekend News

PS Club

Armenian

Wedding

The Armenian

Weekend News

Here and now

n Continued from page C3

people you meet along the way.” The film

is a meeting point of logic and illogic, of

waking life and dreams, prose and poetry.

“The relationship of the characters

are dramatic but [the story] is also an

exploration of these contrasts,” he says.

“From the micro to the macro level, we

tried to carry these elements.”

This astute filmmaker is fascinated by

the tension between the disparate ways

in which citizens living in Armenia and

those who live in the diaspora search

for belonging. “It’s a universal issue but

acutely articulated examples I found best

exist in Armenian culture. It couldn’t be

any other culture but Armenian,” King

says of his decision to place the action

of the film in Armenia, even though he

went through a period of adjustment,

reconciling his original vision with what

he was experiencing on the ground. “I felt

something strong radiating from Armenia,”

he says. “Seeing Ararat for the first

time was affecting even for me.”

It is no accident that the characters

of Will and Gadarine are played by an

American and an Armenian, respectively.

”America has a history of exploration, of

defining new land,” King explains. “This

is in reverse of Armenia, which is in the

center of the most interesting geopolitical

landscape of our time. These characters,

through their travels together, reassess

their selves, identities, orientations,

lives. If they’re traveling with others, such

as a brother, parent or friend, it wouldn’t

lead to these types of transformations.”

Exploring inner geographies

The themes explored in the movie are

personal ones for King. “What artists do

with their work is needing to work something

out [within themselves],” he says,

paraphrasing a quote from David Mamet,

the famed playwright and filmmaker.

“You orient yourself through creating.”

Although King’s family is from Southern

California, he was born in North

Carolina and grew up in Chicago. He

says he has never experienced a deep

connection such as the one he has seen

felt by Armenians toward their lands,

history, symbols, language, and identity.

“I probably had an unconscious search

for an anchor or place of belonging,” he

says of his inspiration to develop the

subjects of the film.

The shooting of Here will take place

during May and June of 2009, after four

years spent writing and developing the

script. King has been encouraged by several

grants and a long list of institutional

supporters like the Cannes Film Festival

Atelier, Sundance/NHK International

Filmmakers Award, and Rockefeller, Renew

Media, and Tribeca Film Institute

fellowships. To date, he has raised 40%

of the $2.8 million budget – sufficient for

shooting the film – but is still looking

for financing for the balance, which he

needs to complete production.

The creative process is a mysterious one,

and many artists work on a project for

many years before becoming conscious of

their desire to actually do so. King is no

different. “Unconsciously I’ve been working

my way towards this for a long time

but [became] more focused since 2004,”

he says of the years spent on developing

Here. “The creative endeavor has to

be about giving as much of yourself as

you possible can,” he continues. “I didn’t

start this to get something out of it. I

didn’t have a choice. You do it because of

an indefinable need. I could be making

easier films but the breadcrumbs let me

down this path, to this project.”

King believes that the project will have

a positive effect on Armenia. “No one

knows how much potential there is in

the country. How many stories there are,

how many beautiful imageries there are,”

he says. “For a while I wanted to include

everything I saw. Every detail. There are

a hundred movies that could be made.

It [Armenia] is a secret that shouldn’t

be kept. I brought my cinematographer

and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

I hope this leads to greater interest

in shooting there. I’m just glad I got

there early.”

Here, as King envisions it, could have a

healthy international festival life, along

with good DVD distribution and overseas

screening. “It’s a first-class production

in Armenia and that can have an

impact on the image of the country,” he

notes.

Armenia is layered, complex, and

rich. King hopes the reaction to the film

would be an expanded interest in the

country and its unfamiliar narrative and

will be brought to the rest of the world.

He hopes the film will leave a lasting

value behind in Armenia and wants to

get the worldwide Armenian community

engaged in the process.

Not one to deny the ironies of life, King

realizes he has come full circle by being

back in Glendale and among Armenians,

having lived here in the first five years of

his life. “I think I had a blood transfusion

and got hit on the head with a khorovadz

[kebab] stick,” he says with a laugh. f

connect:

truckstopmedia.com

wsfilms.com

Above: Entrance to

Syunik. Left: Braden

King at work..

C10 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008


Watch Armenia TV on Dish Network. To get a dish and subscribe, call 1-888-284-7116 toll free.

Satellite Broadcast Program Grid

3 – 9 November

3 November 4 November 5 November

Monday Tuesday Wednesday

EST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

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5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:20 9:20 When the stars

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7:30 10:30 Bumerang

7:55 10:55 Blef

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9:00 12:00 News in

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9:25 12:25 Bernard Show

10:00 13:00 A Drop of

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10:25 13:25 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

10:50 13:50 Telekitchen

11:15 14:15 Jo-Jo

11:40 14:40 Cool Program

12:00 15:00 News in

Armenian

12:30 15:30 Fathers and

Sons

13:30 16:30 Blitz

13:50 16:50 When the stars

dance

14:15 17:15 The Pages of

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15:00 18:00 News in

Armenian

15:30 18:30 Neighbours-

Serial

16:10 19:10 Point of view

16:15 19:15 Seven Sins-

Serial

16:55 19:55 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

17:35 20:35 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:30 21:30 Cost of life-

Serial

19:05 22:05 Escape-Serial

19:40 22:40 11-Serial

20:05 23:05 Bernard Show

9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

21:30 0:30 The Armenian

Film

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:00 3:00 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

0:25 3:25 Yo-Yo

0:50 3:50 VOA(The Voice

of America)

1:15 4:15 Blitz

1:35 4:35 The Century

1:50 4:50 Point of view

1:55 4:55 When the stars

dance

2:20 5:20 Bumerang

3:00 6:00 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

EST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

Armenian

5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:20 9:20 Bumerang

7:05 10:05 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

7:30 10:30 A Drop of

Honey

8:20 11:20 Bernard Show

9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

9:25 12:25 Bernard Show

9:40 12:40 Neighbours-

Serial

10:20 13:20 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

11:00 14:00 Telekitchen

11:25 14:25 Cost of life-

Serial

12:00 15:00 News in

Armenian

12:30 15:30 Escape-Serial

13:05 16:05 11-Serial

13:30 16:30 Blitz

13:50 16:50 When the stars

dance

14:15 17:15 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

15:00 18:00 News in

Armenian

15:30 18:30 Neighbours-

Serial

16:10 19:10 Point of view

16:15 19:15 Seven Sins-

Serial

16:55 19:55 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

17:35 20:35 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:30 21:30 Cost of life-

Serial

19:05 22:05 Escape-Serial

19:40 22:40 11-Serial

20:05 23:05 Bernard Show

21:00 0:00 News in

Armenian

21:25 0:25 The Century

21:50 0:50 Bumerang

23:00 2:00 A Drop of

Honey

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:00 3:00 Health

Program

0:35 3:35 In fact

0:50 3:50 Yerevan Time

1:15 4:15 Blitz

1:35 4:35 Cool sketches

1:50 4:50 Point of view

1:55 4:55 When the stars

dance

2:20 5:20 Blef

3:00 6:00 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

EST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

Armenian

5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:00 9:00 Morning

Program

7:30 10:30 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

7:55 10:55 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

8:20 11:20 Bernard Show

9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

9:25 12:25 Bernard Show

9:40 12:40 Neighbours-

Serial

10:20 13:20 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

11:00 14:00 Telekitchen

11:25 14:25 Cost of life-

Serial

12:00 15:00 News in

Armenian

12:30 15:30 Escape-Serial

13:05 16:05 11-Serial

13:30 16:30 Love Eli

13:50 16:50 When the stars

dance

14:15 17:15 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

15:00 18:00 News in

Armenian

15:30 18:30 Neighbours-

Serial

16:10 19:10 Point of view

16:15 19:15 Seven Sins-

Serial

16:55 19:55 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

17:35 20:35 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:30 21:30 Cost of life-

Serial

19:05 22:05 Escape-Serial

19:40 22:40 11-Serial

20:05 23:05 Bernard Show

21:00 0:00 News in

Armenian

21:25 0:25 The Armenian

Film

22:40 1:40 Cool Program

23:05 2:05 A Drop of

Honey

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:00 3:00 Fathers and

Sons

0:55 3:55 The Century

1:15 4:15 Blitz

1:35 4:35 Love Eli

1:55 4:55 When the stars

dance

2:20 5:20 Bumerang

3:00 6:00 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

6 November 7 November 8 November 9 November

Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

EST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

Armenian

5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:00 9:00 Morning

Program

7:05 10:05 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

7:35 10:35 Health

Program

8:25 11:25 Yerevan Time

8:35 11:35 When the stars

dance

9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

9:25 12:25 Point of view

9:40 12:40 Neighbours-

Serial

10:20 13:20 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

11:00 14:00 Telekitchen

11:25 14:25 Cost of life-

Serial

12:00 15:00 News in

Armenian

12:30 15:30 Escape-Serial

13:05 16:05 11-Serial

13:30 16:30 Love Eli

13:50 16:50 A Drop of

Honey

14:15 17:15 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

15:00 18:00 News in

Armenian

15:30 18:30 Neighbours-

Serial

16:15 19:15 Seven Sins-

Serial

16:55 19:55 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

17:35 20:35 Blef

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:30 21:30 Destiny

Captives-Serial

19:05 22:05 Escape-Serial

19:45 22:45 Tonight show

with Hovo

20:25 23:25 Point of view

20:30 23:30 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

21:00 0:00 News in

Armenian

21:25 0:25 The Century

22:00 1:00 Bernard Show

23:05 2:05 Yo-Yo

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:05 3:05 When the stars

dance-Concert

1:15 4:15 Blitz

1:35 4:35 Love Eli

2:00 5:00 Tonight show

with Hovo

2:45 5:45 Health

Program

3:00 6:00 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

EST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

Armenian

5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:00 9:00 Morning

Program

7:05 10:05 Cool Program

7:30 10:30 The Century

8:10 11:10 A Drop of

Honey

8:35 11:35 When the stars

dance

9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

9:25 12:25 Point of view

9:40 12:40 Neighbours-

Serial

10:20 13:20 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

11:00 14:00 Telekitchen

11:25 14:25 Destiny

Captives-Serial

12:00 15:00 News in

Armenian

12:30 15:30 Escape-Serial

13:05 16:05 In fact

13:20 16:20 Love Eli

13:45 16:45 Blef

14:15 17:15 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

15:00 18:00 News in

Armenian

15:30 18:30 Neighbours-

Serial

16:15 19:15 Seven Sins-

Serial

16:55 19:55 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

17:35 20:35 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:30 21:30 Destiny

Captives-Serial

19:05 22:05 Escape-Serial

19:45 22:45 Tonight show

with Hovo

20:25 23:25 Point of view

20:30 23:30 Cool Program

21:00 0:00 News in

Armenian

21:25 0:25 A Drop of

Honey

22:00 1:00 Bernard Show

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:00 3:00 Fathers and

Sons

1:15 4:15 Health

Program

1:35 4:35 Love Eli

2:00 5:00 Tonight show

with Hovo

2:40 5:40 Point of view

2:45 5:45 In fact

3:00 6:00 The Pages of

Life-New Serial

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

EST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

Armenian

5:00 8:00 Bumerang

6:00 9:00 Morning

Program

7:00 10:00 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

7:25 10:25 Fathers and

Sons

8:35 11:35 When the stars

dance

9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

9:25 12:25 Health

Program

9:55 12:55 Yerevan Time

10:20 13:20 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

11:00 14:00 The Century

11:25 14:25 Destiny

Captives-Serial

12:00 15:00 VOA(The Voice

of America)

12:20 15:20 Escape-Serial

12:55 15:55 In fact

13:05 16:05 Neighbours-

Serial

16:15 19:15 Seven Sins-

Serial

17:00 20:00 A Drop of

Honey

17:25 20:25 Point of view

17:35 20:35 Cool Program

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:25 21:25 Destiny

Captives-Serial

19:00 22:00 When the stars

dance-Concert

20:00 23:00 Tonight show

with Hovo

20:40 23:40 Point of view

20:45 23:45 11-Serial

22:00 1:00 Bernard Show

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:00 3:00 VOA(The Voice

of America)

0:20 3:20 A Drop of

Honey

0:45 3:45 The Century

1:10 4:10 Yerevan time

1:35 4:35 Love Eli

2:00 5:00 Tonight show

with Hovo

2:40 5:40 Point of view

2:45 5:45 In fact

3:00 6:00 Fathers and

Sons

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

EST

PST

4:30 7:30 The Armenian

Film

6:00 9:00 VOA(The Voice

of America)

6:20 9:20 Morning

Program

7:25 10:25 A Drop of

Honey

7:50 10:50 Cool Program

8:10 11:10 Bernard Show

9:00 12:00 Blef

9:25 12:25 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

9:50 12:50 When the stars

dance-Concert

11:00 14:00 Destiny

Captives-Serial

11:25 14:25 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

14:00 17:00 Yo-Yo

14:25 17:25 My Big, Fat

Armenian Wedding

15:35 18:35 Cost of life-

Serial

17:00 20:00 A Drop of

Honey

17:25 20:25 Destiny

Captives-Serial

18:45 21:45 Escape-Serial

22:10 1:10 Health

Program

22:40 1:40 Cool Program

23:00 2:00 Bernard Show

0:00 3:00 VOA(The Voice

of America)

0:20 3:20 The Century

0:50 3:50 Yo-Yo

1:15 4:15 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

1:40 4:40 Blitz

2:00 5:00 A Drop of

Honey

2:30 5:30 Fathers and

Sons

3:30 6:30 Bumerang

How I came to know Saroyan

n Continued from page C8

profits from the sale of the poster. At

that point, however, five years into the

enterprise, I decided that my work was

done, and consequently stopped marketing

the poster.

The surprise

I must confess that I had never read

Saroyan’s “The Armenian and the Armenian,”

the story which contains his arguably

most famous saying. Then, in 1987,

while revisiting my antique collection of

the literary journal Nayiri, published in

Lebanon by the late author and journalist

Antranig Dzarougian, I stumbled on a

story by Saroyan that was translated into

Armenian and published in the very first

issue of the journal, in November 1941!

As I read the piece, titled “The Armenian,”

I quickly realized that it was the story

of Saroyan’s 1935 meeting with a fellow

Armenian, in a Rostov pub – hence the

actual source of the now-famed Saroyan

poster’s words.

But there was still another surprise:

the conclusion of the saying on the

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 1, 2008

poster did not correspond to the original’s.

Thus, in the original, absent was

the reference to the creation of a new

Armenia.

How could this be A victim of translation

Was it possible that we had

distorted the author’s words all these

years There was one way to find out.

With the help of a friend, I obtained a

copy of Inhale and Exhale from the UCLA

library and read the book’s last story,

“The Armenian and the Armenian” (pages

437–38).

Of the three differences between the

texts of the poster and the book, the

following was the main one: in the original,

Saroyan writes: “When two of them

meet in a beer parlor twenty years after,

and laugh and speak in their tongue...”

The poster says: “When two of them

meet anywhere in the world, see if they

will not create a new Armenia.”

I was taken aback. How was I supposed

to feel Had the divergent wording

of the Saroyan poster, started by

Nakashian, unwittingly reproduced by

myself, and copied by everyone else,

including the William Saroyan Society,

The author reads Asbarez under the famous

poster.

been a falsification Had we betrayed

the great author

I ultimately came to terms with the

snafu by weighing intentions, the damage,

if any, and the results. Was the

poster wording not quite a faithful

reproduction of the original Yes. But

was the spirit of Saroyan’s idea compromised

by the poster version Not

at all. It is clear to me that whereas it

was indisputably wrong to tweak Saroyan’s

original text, it was done only

with the intention of making it even

more powerful by the inclusion of the

word “Armenia,” and also securing nontime-specific

resonance to the author’s

image. Within this context, Nakashian

had thought that mention of the beer

parlor was not a critical component

of the image, and that the productive

meeting of two Armenians did not

hinge on the chronological proximity

of an event like the Genocide.

Today I believe that Saroyan’s story,

“The Armenian and the Armenian,” must

be read by everyone, especially the young

generation. It must be studied not only

in the context of Saroyan’s state of mind

at 27, when he wrote the story, but its

relevance to modern Armenian history

and the Armenian people’s astonishing

capacity for self-renewal.

f

Translated by Ishkhan Jinbashian

C11


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