Portland Press Herald (Maine)
April 26, 2006 Wednesday
York Edition

Show at Kittery art gallery honors victims of genocides;
The four featured artists are survivors or descendants of the Jewish
Holocaust and Armenian Genocide.

by DEBORAH SAYER News Assistant

They were two distinct people groups who experienced similar,
unimaginable atrocities: the near annihilation of their kin.
Survivors and descendents of the Armenian Genocide (1915-23) and the
Jewish Holocaust (1933-45) have come together to pay tribute to the
memory of their lost loved ones with a group exhibit, "Art of

The exhibit, part purging and part healing, is on display through May
20 at Haley Farm Gallery in Kittery. It features the works of
painters Ross Saryan, Sandra Jeknavorian and Samuel Bak and
photographer Hakob Hovhannisyan.

Gallery owner Jackie Abramian said that artworks represented in the
exhibit include oil, watercolor and mixed media paintings, as well as
photographs of the Armenian countryside. All are available for

The gallery offered similar subject matter during last year's
exhibits, though this display features the works of a younger
generation of artists, who are descendants of genocide survivors.
Bak, 73, is a Holocaust survivor.

Painter Ross Saryan, 23, of Armenia is the great-grandson of the late
Armenian national artist Martiros Saryan, who set the standard for
Armenian art and culture in his day. A museum in that country has
been built as a tribute to his legacy.

The younger Saryan has established himself as a painter of oil and
watercolor works that link the past while providing a glimpse of the
future of Armenian contemporary art. His paintings feature prominent
Armenian symbols and designs in geometric abstraction.

"He has his own style, using vibrant colors that his
great-grandfather used," said Abramian. "He dabbles in different
styles and formats."

Bak has an extensive body of work. For the past six decades he's used
mixed medium to depict scenes of destruction and brokenness based on
his childhood experiences in the Holocaust.

Examples of his work include paintings of a broken tea service on a
table; images Abramian said serve to capture the reality that normal
Jewish life was abruptly interrupted with horrifying effect. The
theme behind much of Bak's artwork lies in the Hebrew word "tikkun,"
meaning to have been destroyed or left incomplete. The group of
paintings are from Pucker Gallery of Boston.

Abramian said that this group of artists "work with their heart, mind
and hands to capture something others can not, citing Bak as an

"(The are) is so much part of his life," said Abramian. "He works
daily and exhibits works worldwide. It's his mission to let people
know what happened."

GRAPHIC: Photo courtesy Haley Farm Gallery
Haley Farm Gallery owners Jackie Abramian, far left, and Harout
DerSimonian, far right, pose with artist Samuel Bak, second from
right, and his wife, Josee Bak. Examples of Bak's work are displayed
in the background. Bak, 73, is a Holocaust survivor whose work
depicts scenes from childhood memories of brokenness.