CITY'S ENERGY INSPIRES SCULPTOR
Calgary Herald, Canada
July 12 2013
By Jacqueline Louie, For the Calgary Herald July 12, 2013 7:25 PM
Calgary sculptor Vahe Tokmajyan believes that art can comfort,
inspire and enlighten.
"True art should be able to move people emotionally - they should feel
some sort of connection to the art piece. It is similar to music -
the tune will cheer you up, that is what a great art piece should do,"
says Tokmajyan, 46, who grew up in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia,
in a family of well-known sculptors.
"When communities or cities will be decorated with really good art,
our souls will be enriched as well," he adds.
After obtaining a master's degree from the State Institute of Arts
and Theatre in Yerevan, specializing in drawing and sculpture,
Tokmajyan (whose family name is pronounced tok-ma-jian) went on to
He immigrated to Canada in 2005, after participating in an
international sculpture symposium in Vernon, B.C., in 2002, where a
sculpture of his was installed in front of Vernon City Hall.
"I was inspired by Canada, its nature and people. I wanted to come
here as a permanent resident and continue my artistic career here,"
says Tokmajyan, who is a full-time sculptor with pieces ranging from
monumental outdoor sculptures to small gallery-size works.
His art is exhibited in Canada and around the world, including
Argentina, China, Armenia, Italy, Greece and France. He is also
an instructor of clay sculpture, stone sculpture and drawing with
University of Calgary Continuing Education.
Tokmajyan enjoys living in Calgary because the city radiates artistic
energy. The city has a variety of green open spaces where, "I would
like to see art pieces installed. I just love nature. I love the
space. I love the climate.
"In Calgary, when you have snow in the morning and plus 20 in the
evening, it's very artistic."
In 2007, Tokmajyan received a City of Calgary Immigrant of Distinction
Award (Art and Culture). Currently, he is working on a series of
sculptural pieces for display in a local gallery.
Tokmajyan and his wife Lusine Harutyunyan have three children, aged
13, 17, and 18. The family lives in a bi-level home.
Question: Which room in your home is your favourite and why?
Answer: The living room, which has a small separation with the
kitchen. It's the space where we spend most of our time together as a
family. It looks out on a playground/soccer field. We have a 24-hour
view of the Calgary nature.
Question: What activities do you - and other family members - do in
Answer: We watch TV together here, we eat here and drink coffee (I
have a variety of espresso machines). We also have our discussions
here when the kids come with new ideas from school. We talk about
art and discuss recent books.
Question: What is your favourite piece of furniture in this room?
Answer: A Franklin wood burning stove. For us, it has a surrealistic
meaning - we jokingly refer to it as 'the art gallery.' The wood that
we burn during the winter is like art pieces that we put in the stove.
When we burn it, it's like being exposed to the public. The fire is
the critics, the discussions, and the arguments that appear around
the art pieces, which is the wood. During the summertime, when we
don't use it as a stove, I put my sculptures on top of it.
Question: What is your favourite piece of art in this room?
Answer: I like to collect art pieces from around the world. Anytime I
travel, I bring back a new piece. For example, when I was in Argentina
in 2010 for an international sculpture symposium (I was representing
Canada and received a public choice award), I bought a small statue
of the Virgin Mary. . .
I have bought a variety of statues - Greek classical sculpture,
and some statues from Africa. I love African art, and also Malaysian
masks. Also, I have reproductions of famous pictures by Picasso and
Salvador Dali, and some small pictures of Paris.
I also have a picture of my statue that is on display in the Kaasa
Gallery in the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton. It's a mixed-media
piece that I created - it represents a doll inspired by a famous
character in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann opera.
And a recent abstract piece is a marble statue I made - the idea
came from a saying by [Blaise] Pascal, who said, "The heart has its
reasons that reason does not know."
Question: Is there anything you would change about the room if
Answer: Yes, I would change the wall that partially separates the
kitchen from the living room. I would like to open it up, so the
light will come through the whole kitchen.
Question: Do you think of it as exclusively your room only, or one
shared with others?
Answer: This is our family room.
Question: How long have you lived in your house?
Answer: For four years. We bought it in 2009.
Question: What community is your house in? What do you like about
Answer: Braeside. It's a very nice, quiet community with nice people
who are interested in art.
Question: Have you seen your street and/or community change since
you've moved there?
Answer: I always work outside in front of my garage, and I can see
people who drive or walk by. They will stop and will talk about the
sculpture - we will have these nice discussions. I hope I have changed
a little bit the image of the community.
Question: What do you like most about living in Calgary?
Answer: It's a young, energetic and vibrant city. I like the sunshine
in Calgary, and for artists I think it's a good place. The art is a
little bit experimental.
It's a place full of new opportunities and with all these new green
areas we see space for new sculptures, to create a new, more artistic
image of Calgary.
CITY'S ENERGY INSPIRES SCULPTOR
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