Louise Manoogian Simone–President of AGBU–has generously contributed the $50,000 needed for the start of the "Caravan" project. Four years in the planning–"Caravan" will essentially be a mobile art exhibition. Unlike most traveling exhibitions–which are packed up and shipped from museum to museum–"Caravan" will consist of seven 24-foot flatbed trucks with fourteen billboard paintings based on Armenian illuminated man’scripts mounted to the sides. The trucks will then roll back to back along California’s interstate freeways and major metropolitan arteries starting from Los Angeles then driving up to Fresno–San Francisco–Sacramento–down to San Diego and then back to LA for a minimum of two weeks in spring 2002–bringing original contemporary paintings–to millions of people.
"This is the best way of exhibiting the rich legacy of Armenian culture–of helping to make it part and parcel of modern artistic discourse," explains artist Zadik Zadikian. "Imagine these massive trucks–with one painting on each side–dashing along the highways and byways of California–a state that prides itself on its multicultural ethos–a moving exhibition that not only thrusts Armenian art into the main stream culture–but burns the boundaries between the worlds of fine art and the general population."
Six of the "Caravan" trucks will be mounted with 12 paintings created by Zadikian. California artist Charles Garabedian will create the paintings on the seventh flatbed truck. At the end of the "Caravan" tour–the artwork will be donated to Armenia.
Simone’s sponsorship of the project came about back in March 2001–when she visited Zadikian’s Pasadena studio during her one-day stay in Los Angeles for the Manoogian Demirdjian School’s 25th anniversary. The brief but informative meeting inspired Simone–who quickly compared the project to a movie production or a political campaign. "This show is not a regular gallery show–it is a major production that needs the right attention from an additional number of sponsors to become a reality," she stated. "Caravan" has a budget of $200,000. Funding from Simone will be allocated to the initial production phase of the project. Additional funding is needed for the documentary film (which will be aired on various public television stations)–public relations–creation of catalogs and other informational publications–trucks–drivers–and execution of the actual tour.
Simone’s main concern was building effective public awareness. "Viewers of the trucks must grasp what the paintings are all about right then and there–through the use of slogans–or one liners," she suggested. Zadikian–and his son Aram who is also actively involved with the project–agreed with Simone that for these paintings to be understood by the masses–working with public relations and advertising firms is needed. Zadikian’s studio walls are covered by many large paintings that are similar to the ones that will be painted for Caravan. Simone was particularly impressed by their fusion of both ancient and modern qualities.
Armenian miniatures are unusual in that they are both visually beautiful and highly expressive. Through their simplicity and stylization–using few lines and colors–they are able to capture the complex inner emotional state of the Armenian culture. Armenia’s enemies stole most of these sacred paintings–crushing and burning many–only to later sell them back to the Armenia’s who would pay any amount to get them back. These works of art have survived–and yet the world has almost no knowledge of them.
Simone liked the fact that young American-Armenia’s–who have quickly assimilated into American culture–are taking an interest in an art event that is heavily driven by Armenian culture. She concluded her meeting with encouraging words for the artist and his son–"I have no doubt whatsoever about your artistic abilities–Zadik–and I believe in this project as a truly fresh approach to reaching the mass audience. I only urge you to find the top PR people to help you secure the success of this project."
For more information on the "Caravan" project–you can visit the website at: www.amzart.com