my vernissage experience
image above: suren hand carved the implements that you see spread out at his feet.
the naregatsi art institute is located at 16/1 vardanants street which is immediately to the right of vernissage (the large, weekends-only, open market). the gallery was only 2 minutes away should i be called to speak to anyone visiting the gallery while i was wandering among the treasures and trinkets. my exhibit in the naregatsi gallery was to come down saturday evening, june 26th, and so i had the whole day to explore and to purchase some gifts to bring home. i had also looked forward to this day for another reason: another opportunity to eat lahmajoun.
while we were installing the show on the 19th susanna went out to get food for beno, ernest, herself and me. she came back with something that i had not yet tasted, lahmajoun, lahmacun, lahmejun (on this last site scroll down to item dated 03-23-2007 #5, submitted by velochic). the pronunciation sounded to me like la-mah-cho. it is mouth-watering delicious. i was told it was not really armenian, that it was an arab dish. however, after looking around on line for recipes i believe that it may be a dish that became a part of armenian cuisine when armenians lived in what is now turkey and has been integrated into armenian cuisine. the links above go to various recipes. i have not yet made it but i hope to. from images on various web sites the lahmajoun that i ate in yerevan was more sparsely covered with meat than suggested in the on-line recipes (it was my breakfast on saturday as i wandered around exploring vernissage, 6/26).
back to vernissage:
image above of the hardware area, a huge section onto itself
images above and below: among the wares sold by these individuals were flatware with handworked wire filigree in the traditional armenian style.while having a grand time walking around in the baking sun (an aside: yesterday, 7/11, it was 105.8 degrees, hotter than when i was there) enjoying just looking and experiencing, i got a text from sam that the peace corps group was there. and coincidentally i got a call from lala, the group's language instructor. she was at the gallery and asked if i could meet her at naregatsi to speak with her about the installation. i did. we had an interesting conversation as lala (read more on sam's blog) had been the cultural liaison for the peace corps in armenia but i believe due to budget cuts that position is not currently filled. later sam and i sat together at one of the cafes where i met other members of the peace corps group. i was very impressed by sam's ability to converse in armenian after three weeks of intensive (6 hours a day) language instruction and living with an armenian host family.
at 6pm i returned to the gallery to de-install the show with the help of susanna and her open university students who had volunteered to help. all of whom were terrific! and in fact it was ernest's 21st birthday.
image above: naregatsi logo formed from armenian letters
image above: entrance door to naregatsi art institute, stained glass.
image above: i am not sure that n.a.i. actually has a no smoking rule, but this is where the staff members seem to take their smoking breaks.
image above: ernest, susanna, ... taking down the installation
image above: ellen and susanna prepare to pack the pieces
image above: susanna packing up nothers forms, ernest in background.
image above: iness and ellen wrapping nothers for packing
my thank yous and goodbyes to levon, nara and the other members of the naregatsi staff, new friends and future collaborators, would be said next week, before i actually left. but i will jump ahead of myself here to tell you that not only did i manage to get back to the hostel with the 365+ nothers pieces and the mirror, i packed them oh so very carefully in my cow, 9 to a sandwich zip bag, with no room to budge at all, along with the other fragile ceramic pieces from movses (image borrowed on-line)
and when i arrived at the airport to check-in wed. morning, june 30th, the suitcase weighed in at 38 kilos (83.6 pounds). even if one is willing to pay for the overweight airline regulations forbid airline reps from accepting anything over 32 kilos (70.4 pounds). i had nothing to throw out as i had distributed all containers with liquids, books, and even some clothing among friends before i packed. getting the nothers home was my priority. i had been able to pack the mirror piece too, amazingly.
and so i sat there, on the floor, pulling out the zip lock bags and putting them on the scale until it hit the required 6 kilos. i will spare you the details, but know that everything made it back to nyc and all made it home unbroken. surely some sort of miracle, no?
to be continued