- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 November 7 , 2003 

The Art of Noise?: Honored painter kicked out of studio

Two months after the Union of Painters honored his 80th birthday and nearly as many years as a respected artist, painter Tigran Tokmajyan has been banned by a local government from using his Komitas Avenue studio.

Tokmajyan, by State authority an "Honored Painter of Armenia", has been ordered to "cease work on wood, to use etching machine and make other suchlike illegal things in the apartment 40 located in Komitas Avenue 19" according to a document signed by Arabkir Community head Levon Harutyunyan.

As of October 6, his studio has been off limits.

The studio is used by Tokmajyan and his daughter, Arpi, also a painter. Neither does woodcrafts, but complaints by a neighbor convinced Harutyunyan otherwise, even though an inspector found no evidence of woodworking equipment in the studio.

Slanderous letters from Julia Harutyunyan (no relation to the district head), a neighbor in the building who is an attorney, claim that day and night her "uneducated neighbors disrupt calm regularly making noise, using devices for woodwork and turning their apartment into joinery".

Harutyunyan began filing complaints with community authorities soon after the Tokmajyans opened their studio four years ago.

Several times, inspectors followed up on the complaints with visits to the studio, but none reported any woodworking machinery, only brushes, easels, and a hand-turned (non-electric) etching machine.

Arpi Tokmajyan says that if there is noise from the studio it is from making the mold on which to stretch canvasses or from occasionally putting nails for hanging paintings.

"In every house people hammer nails into walls but if someone loudly talks or makes noise in the doorway then they say that we did it," she says.

Honored Painter of Armenia is in trouble due to "creativity" of the local officials.

Haykaz Karapetyan, one of the district employees sent to inspect the studio, reported that he sat in Julia Harutyunyan's apartment and that he heard disturbing noise from the Tokmajyan studio. The same inspector said he found "tools" in the studio, which he itemized as "brushes and easel".

Further, the community employed lawyer Karapetyan says that the "Honored Painter" is "just a colorer, a house painter, who paints walls. Painters do the same."

A district associate of Levon Harutyunyan said Tokmajyan would be allowed to use the studio if he promises not to make noise.

Arpi Tokmajyan says there was no noise to begin with, and she suspects that in shutting down the studio, district officials are trying to gain good graces with Julia Harutyunyan, whose son-in-law holds a position in the Armenian Court of Appeal (from whom officials might one day need favors).

"One has the impression that in our own apartment we don't paint but commit crimes or we opened a brothel here, and the district's Head Office writes reports concerning our activities," says Arpi Tokmajyan.

Meanwhile, it is known that in the same district, Levon Harutyunyan has been renovating an apartment for six months. Neighbors complain among themselves about the constant noise, and wonder aloud why the Tokmajyan's studio was shut down.

The vice-head of Arabkir Community was asked to comment on the apparent discrepancy in noise enforcement.

The District Head "is allowed to do everything," said vice-head Eduard Musheghyan. "If you can afford to do a renovation, you can do it."

The Tokmajyans have appealed to the Union of Painters, the Ministry of Culture and have hired a lawyer to help solve the situation.

According to Agnes
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The blessing of the territory for a new church in Masis took place this week. It will be the first dominical temple in this town (for years it has been populated by Azerbaijanis) and the second biggest after the St. Grigor Lusavorich in Yerevan. The construction is estimated at $1 million and is sponsored by "Vardanyan Family" foundation.



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