place for painters . . .
Last week the vernisage in Saryan Park was filled
with not only paintings but also with unhappy
painters. The park, across from the Opera House,
is usually empty during winter months, but became
active due to Mayrakaghak (Capital) Union of Artists
non governmental organization which organized
a demonstration for artists' protection.
Many gathered. But it turned that only a few
"They say they want to take vernisage from
artists, but it's not clear yet whether they're
taking it from the artists or from Mayrakaghak
ngo," said artist Minas Martirosyan.
"They" in this case refers to the Kentron
(Center) community authorities, in whose part
of Yerevan the popular park is located.
In 2000, Saryan Park was given (for 25 years)
to the ngo for free use as a place where painters
can exhibit and sell their work. (The "vernisage"
-- a French word having to do with painting exhibitions
- has in fact been active since 1992). The head
of Mayrakaghak, however, says the agreement has
been being violated from the beginning.
"There already are cafes on three sides
and two kiosks near the street, the operation
time of which has expired, that are littering
and damaging the architectural view," says
the head of Mayrakaghak Narine Vardanyan.
According to leaders of the ngo, their letters
and complaints remain unanswered.
Vardanyan charges that the Centron authorities
want to close down the vernisage.
The conflict with Kentron started when the ngo
asked permission from the municipality to start
constructions of a gallery-storehouse and a toilet.
Permission was not granted.
"Having a storehouse is a really urgent
matter, since the members of the ngo are from
different regions and it's not easy to bring tens
of paintings from Dilijan or Gyumri every time,"
says the executive director of Mayrakaghak, Artyom
Mayrakaghak NGO has applied to court accusing
Kentron of creating obstacles to their construction
plans. A lawsuit filed in the Court of First Instance
was settled in favor of the painters. Kentron
appealed, but a higher court did not overturn
According to community head Gagik Beglaryan,
there were no intentions to close the vernisage.
In fact, he says he is on the side of the painters
and wants to see them display their work for free.
As it is now, he says, each painter must pay 1,000
drams (about $1.80) per month to the ngo. Beglaryan
argues that there should be no charge for using
the property since it was donated by the community.
Community authorities, however, are opposed to
the artists building in the park.