(note: the time stamp of all posts and comments on this blog is the time in umm el-fahem, israel)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

begun sunday, 30 may 2010, to be continued.

yesterday morning on my way to the studio (a 5 minute walk) when i passed the FOOD MARKET one of the saleswomen was cutting flowers in the little garden in front of the store. last night when i stopped in to purchase items for today's lunch and dinner i saw vases and jars with the flowers positioned throughout the store. when i was at the fruit & vegetable counter (each section of the store is run like a stall: you pay for your purchases as you get them) i remarked to the woman (using sign language, english, a stab at an armenian word) how beautiful the rose was. she immediately grabbed it, wrapped the stem and handed it to me. i am still smiling.

when i bought apricot jam my first day here i thought the brand name so appropriate. last night i went into the hostel kitchen to find a container for the rose there was an empty jar waiting for me. i hope you can read the label.

there is a lot to share but time to post right now is impacted by my 12 hour studio days as i attempt to finish the first stage of a ceramic-based installation piece.
thus this is going to be in bits and pieces and not in chronological order.

yesterday i worked it the studio alone, as on the weekend movses takes his wares to vernissage to earn additional income. the radio is always on YEREVAN FM and the song list includes many repeats of songs such as DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY, STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT,... i changed the station for the day to what was reminiscent to me of arabic tunes. when movses' friend proceeded him into the studio last night (a man who i had not yet met) he said barev (hello), looked at the radio, and asked turkish? then you like it. i shook my head yes and gestured that it was o.k. to change the channel. then movses walked in, listened to what was on he radio and walked over and changed the station.

this suggested to me a need for a cultural exchange program between armenian and turkish artists in a neutral location...

must now run to the studio to be let in before movses is off to vernissage. later,...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

thursday, 27 may 2010

ACSL residents jerry bahm-colombik and roger colombik have arrived (hailing from texas, they first stopped in romania). funded for their acsl residency by artlink their work is art as intervention. susanna organized a meeting for them with her students and they have now formed a team to work together to create art dealing with gentrification and the impact of such actions on life in yerevan.

(jerry also makes a great guacamole). later,...

tuesday morning, 26 may 2010

i am working in clay -- making many multiples for an installation. clay is very process oriented and on a schedule outside of my own, e.g. once a piece is made it must dry slowly in order to be fired. and the klin must then be available for me to fire my work. i arrive at the studio when it opens at 10am and am there until 10:30pm. this does not allow time right now to explore my neighborhood, the center of the city or sites outside of yerevan. when the initial work is done the next steps in my process will give me greater flexibility with time.

sunday i was to meet movses to let me into the studio at 9:30 as he was coming by just to collect his own work to sell at vernesage market. there was a small glitch. i was locked in. it seems that once the evening security guard leaves sunday mornings the door is locked until his return sunday night. i knew about the need to call (susanna to call the hostel manager as there is a language barrier) to get in before 8pm but did not realize that i woudl not be able to get out without making arrangements beforehand. thus, taking a page from asheer's bag of anecdotes i had not choice but to jump out of the window if i was going to make it to the studio in time to be let in so that i could spend the day at work. attached is an image of a door and windows. my escape was made through the 2nd window to the right (your right) of the door. the one with the ledge. nifty, huh?

but, i made it to meet movses at the studio on time.

must run. more anon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

oops! 5/22

i was not finished nor had i edited my post when i obviously touched some button inadvertently and the screen disappeared and the posting was up. sorry. i will finish quickly. after a lot of walking around trying to get oriented (those of you who know me understand the challenge that poses as i am directionally challenged) we had a delicious meal at caucasus. favored by artists, among others, the food is armenian and georgian (reminiscent of middle eastern cuisine) and was delicious and inexpensive in comparison to american (*nyc) restaurants. the waitress, who was sweet but not great at her job, obliged us by taking the image above as is the photo of asheer scoping out the art college for a potential location for his sculpture.

when we left the restaurant it started to pour after two days of sunshine. susanna put me into a nyc subway-like packed mini bus and told the driver where to let me off. i hoped for the best and the driver did advise me of my stop. i went food shopping in the very up-to-the-minute "food market" yes, there is a huge sign reading FOOD MARKET (the next day i returned with dictionary in hand) where
earlier in the day i had been to a local deli-like place around the corner from the hostel. then i headed home.

yesterday i spent the day working in the ceramic studio. everyone was lovely and sign language worked but as the studio filled up with adult students throughout the day as well as some high school kids i was sorry that i was not able to share in the conversation. the music however, a radio not CDs, was totally familiar all day: from aretha franklin, to charles aznavour, to american and brazilian music from the 1950s through the 90s.

my work progressed slowly but i look forward to getting into a faster, if not frantic, rhythm tomorrow (today movses was unavailable to open the studio up so i am catching up on a lot and soon hope to head out to explore the business center of this area which is a bit of a walk but appeared to be open stalls when i rode past in the mini-van.)

so for now and probably a while, hello and goodbye from yerevan. scd

yerevan, 22 may 2010

it is saturday afternoon, 5/22, in yerevan (local time is 9 hours ahead of EST). i left nyc jfk last tuesday evening, breakfasted in cdg, paris, stepped off of my 2nd flight in yerevan wednesday night.

susanna gyulamiryan, the incredible, high-energy organizer of the ACSL residency program, was there to greet me. thanks to months of e-mail correspondence we felt as if we knew each other and there was an immediate connection.

we traveled by taxi to the Mkhitar Sebastaci Educational Complex where i am living in the hostel (used by teachers taking courses here throughout the year) as is asheer akram, a kansas city, mo. artist, and also a recipient of a liaep grant, a project of the kansas city artists coalition. the hostel is in south-west yerevan. the area was nick-named bangladesh when it was being built in a formerly uninhabited area of the city because it was considered far from the town center. there were also four kindergarten directors staying here this past week who introduced me to delicious local pastries the evening of my arrival.

asheer and i each have a private room that generally houses up to 4 with 2 bunk beds, closet, table, chair and small book case. the common space includes a large screen t.v. (with local programming), sofa, dining table, a small kitchen and a bathroom area with the usual plus a brand new front-loading washing machine. my first shower was a bit nippy but on wed. asheer showed me the trick of adjusting the water heater and the hot water now flows.

due to my work schedule and desire for flexibility i am preparing my own food. but thursday, my first morning here, i went down to eat breakfast in the primary school co-located in this building. i was greeted by at least a hundred primary school children and their teachers beginning their day singing folk tunes and dancing circle dances. it was wonderful, and the cheese and bread and sinful cheese pastry delicious although the nescafe (which i now realize is the caffeinated norm) did not measure up.

time and timing here are a bit more relaxed than in the states but best to realize that on day one. the afternoon began with susanna, asheer and i walking taking the 5 minute walk to the secondary school complex across the main thoroughfare to the ceramic workshop (with a first stop in asheer's basement welding space) where ceramic master movses avetisyyan offered me a table for my work and tour, including my introduction to gunchar, a huge, old wonderful pooch who makes the workshop his home. movses and i communicate with the help of an armenian/english dictionary but his hospitality is clear. the whole complex is under renovation -- or was, lack of available financing seems to stopped everything in mid-air -- still the set-up is amazing for a high school although just as smoking seems to be a national trait, work in the clay studio gives no heed to dust masks (i brought my own) or other health considerations. movses, who made two of the 3 electric kilns (no gas) i think through cannibalization, is an artist who also sells his work on the weekends at the large vernesage outdoor market.

we then walked over to the fine arts college dept of art, directed by artist grigor khatchatryan. asheer was scoping out (see image) possible locations for the large steel sculpture he is making and we then returned to grigor's office for more nescafe and an overview of his art work. grigor introduced contemporary art in armenia through his work in the late 1980s (think marina abramovic with a sense of irony and humor). (a link to an introduction to contemporary art in armenia) contemporary art and theory. susanna taught the first courses here, at the open university, on feminist art and gender theory (she still teaches this curriculum) but traditional work and approaches still appear to be the norm.

asheer returned to work and susanna and i hopped a mini-bus (shared van) into the town center. she helped me conduct a bit of banking business and we walked over to a possible location for my exhibit, the naregatsi art institute. a violin performance was being recorded by t.v. in the entrance lobby thus we will return next week. the space appeared to be lovely, and located close to republic square this organization serves armenian culture past, present and future.

Monday, May 10, 2010

8 days TO DO....

i'm in nyc. it's may 10th and i leave for armenia on the 18th, whether or not all items on my TO DO list are indeed done.

i have not yet begun packing but (see photo) have brought home some tools from my studio to take along with me to armenia.

i am very excited (to say the least). susanna gyulamiryan of art and cultural studies laboratory (acsl photos and acsl information) and janet simpson of kcac
have been terrific to work with from afar. and professor michael stone (armeniologist, the hebrew university of jerusalem, and poet) has been incredibly generous to me, an artist who simply happened across his work on line.

i am very fortunate to have this opportunity and i look forward to sharing some of the experience with you in the coming weeks. stay tuned...