"The Park" by Simon Samsonian

TCA Greater New York Celebrates Art of Simon Samsonian

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ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. — On October 27 and 28, the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of Greater New York hosted an art exhibition featuring the works of Simon Samsonian an Armenian cubist-impressionist painter.

The opening reception took place on October 27 and the exhibition opened to the public on October.

The committee organized a reception and program for this acclaimed artist. A selection of works curated by Samsonian’s grandson, Alan Semerdjian, was shown at the reception, set up to resemble a gallery at the Tekeyan Center.

More than 100 guests attended the two-day event, among them Mher Margaryan, the ambassador for Armenia at the United Nations, second secretary Zoya Stepanyan, Simon Samsonian’s daughter Hilda Semerdjian, Armenian philanthropists Sarkis and Ruth Bedevian, and longtime Tekeyan benefactor Artemis Nazarian and her daughter, Seta.

Hilda Hartounian, chair of TCA of Greater New York, opened the program and invited Margaryan to make brief remarks.

The ambassador praised the Tekeyan Chapter for being the a cultural leader in the community and cultivating strong ties with the UN Mission for many years.

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The program continued with a reading by poet George Wallace, the first poet laureate of Suffolk County, NY, and a friend of the Samsonian family. Wallace read a poem by Vahan Tekeyan to commemorate the 140th anniversary of Tekeyan’s birth.

Hartounian also invited Simon Samsonian’s brother-in-law, Nubar Kupelian, to share a few words about the artist in Armenian. Kupelian has been the Armenian language Secretary for the previous Primate Khajag Barsamian and his predecessor for the past 48 years.

He spoke about Samsonian’s orphaned childhood, then his life in Egypt when he became an accomplished painter.

Samsonian was separated from his parents in the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and was never able to see them again. As a young boy in the orphanages of Greece and Egypt, his talents in painting and sculpting didn’t go unnoticed. He was given a scholarship to attend the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art in Alexandria, Egypt. He excelled as a student there and later became a teacher at the school. His works are seen and admired around the world in museums, galleries, and private collections.

The guests enjoyed a lavish reception and  mingled among the beautiful artwork. The program attracted guests from several generations, including budding painter Nanar Bouldukian, 5, who said she loved Samsonian’s painting titled “Compositions.”

Samsonian’s works are on display in various museum collections, including the National Art Gallery in Yerevan, Armenia, the Museum of Modern Art, Cairo, Egypt, the Musée Arménien de France, the collection of the Mekhitarist Fathers’ Monastic Order, Vienna, Austria and the Hecksher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY.

Hagop Vartivarian concluded the program by speaking about the connection between the Tekeyan Cultural Association and Simon Samsonian. He mentioned how Samsonian met Vahan Tekeyan just prior to coming to the United States, and conversed about how much he read and admired his poetry. The poet Tekeyan encouraged Samsonian to meet with the Tekeyan circle in New York. There, Samsonian campaigned for and started a new committee — whose chair he became — featuring newcomers from the Diaspora as members. Since then, Vartivarian stated, “Tekeyan strives to invite new members to the organization to add diversity, thus creating new ideas, concepts, and projects to promote our Armenian heritage.”

Samsonian died in 2003 at the age of 81.

One of the program’s highlights was the impressive performance of 11-year-old cellist Arno Hajjar, son of Dr. Roger Hajjar and Teni Apelian. The guests were blown away by the young perfomer’s rendition of Robert Schumann’s The Two Grenadiers. He is a student of cellist Ani Kalayjian, who is the daughter of Barkev Kalayjian, treasurer of the TCA chapter. Hajjar has previously joined Ani Kalayjian and the Elizabeth Morrow Orchestra Ensemble in opening for Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman.

Alan Semerdjian thanked the Tekeyan Greater NY committee and Hartounian for organizing this event. On behalf of the family, he donated a Samsonian painting to the Tekeyan Center.

“A lovely cultural gathering centered around the prolific artistic work of Simon Samsonian, an Egyptian-born painter of Armenian heritage, said Linda Tarzian, a TCA supporter.

In 2019, TCA Greater New York will celebrate its 50th Golden Anniversary. The committee has a clear-cut mission to continue to promote the Armenian heritage, language, and identity through cultural and educational programs including lectures, concerts, book presentations, and art exhibits.

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