SCHRUNS, Austria — Thirty years ago, Gyumri was almost totally obliterated by an earthquake that devastated nearby Spitak and other cities of the Shirak region. Slowly the city, known as the cultural capital of Armenia, has been rebuilt and its artistic community again flourishes. Not only are the new music schools filled with eager students, but painters and sculptors are continuing to generate works of beauty.
Thanks to the efforts of Alexan Ter-Minasyan, eight artists from Gyumri have been able to present their work in a highly-successful exhibition in Schruns, a city in Montafon Valley, on the westernmost part of Austria. The exhibition, which ran from October 5 to 28, was organized as a joint effort by the MAP Kellergallerie, Caritas and the Schruns Savings Bank, together with Gallery 25 of Gyumri, an artists’ group which organizes activities in Armenia as well as exchange programs abroad. In 2017, Gallery 25 cooperated on a show in Bursa, Turkey.
Ter-Minasyan, the founder of Gallery 25, has been a protagonist of the process of rebuilding Gyumri, both physically and culturally. He worked with the Red Cross to set up the “Berlin” polyclinic there, and established the Berlin Art Hotel, which financially supported it. He has supported local efforts to provide art instruction for pupils, for example in the small village of Gusanagyugh. (http://www.m-w-stiftung.org/English/News/Suns-of-Gusana/Suns-of-Gusana.html) In January of this year, Ter-Minasyan was named Honorary Consul of Germany, largely in recognition of his years-long efforts to promote personal and cultural exchange between the two countries and peoples. (https://mirrorspectator.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/February-3-2018.pdf)
The project in Austria, titled “Armenia as a Guest in Montafon,” opened the exhibition, “Gyumri and Its Artists,” with a vernissage attended by five of the artists and Ter-Minasyan. Schruns Mayor Jürgen Kuster welcomed them with an official reception. The earthquake is a theme of the artworks, and is also documented in images by photographer Yuri Pavlov on display. The program included lectures, eye-witness accounts of the catastrophe, and conversations with the visiting artists. Sculptor Karen Barseghyan, who had been in Schruns for several weeks as artist-in-residence, invited guests to visit his studio, where he has been holding workshops for youngsters and adults.