Combined Artistry and Dentistry
TROY, Mich. — The art world and the Armenian community suffered a great loss with the sudden death of internationally acclaimed art historian, musician and dentist Dr. Garabed Belian on Monday, December 14.
Belian (changed from Behesnilian), a survivor, a self-made man and a versatile individual, was born in Jerusalem to parents who were exiled from Cilicia to the Holy Land, following the Armenian Genocide. His father, Sarkis Behesnilian of Marash, and mother, Haigouhi Markarian of Adana, had settled in Jerusalem and started a jewelry business. Sarkis Behesnilian also supported and encouraged Armenian pottery makers to continue the artistic tradition of Kutahya ceramic tiles, which has survived to this day.
The Behesnilians had four daughters, Mary, Berjouhi, Vicky and Artemis and one son, Garabed, all of whom were endowed with musical and artistic talents.
Early on, Garabed’s life took a unique path developing into different professional and artistic dimensions.
Immediately following the untimely loss of their father, the Behesnilian family experienced a second exile when war broke out in Palestine in 1948. They lost their business, home and property and moved to Jordan, hoping things would settle in a few weeks so that they could return to Jerusalem. After waiting for one year, they lost all hope and moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where Garabed entered the dental school of St. Joseph French University, earning his tuition by playing violin in a local music group. Upon graduation, he moved back to Amman where he began his dental practice. In three years, he built his reputation as a prominent dentist, treating royalty, nobility and the general public.
Turmoil and uncertain prospects in the Middle East forced him to abandon his successful practice in Jordan and move to Chicago, Ill., where his older sister, Mary, and her husband, Hovig Etian, were living.