Guests view the private exhibition of the collaborative art of Warhol and Basquiat

‘Cheerful Giving:’ AMAA NY/NJ Orphan & Child Care Fundraiser for Displaced Families of Artsakh


By Gilda Buchakjian Kupelian

PARAMUS, N.J. — In the spirit of charity, a fundraiser was organized by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) NY/NJ Orphan & Child Care Committee to raise critical funds for the displaced families of Artsakh. The AMAA continues to advance its mission to support these families to restore their normal lives and meet their long-term needs. A private, curated, museum tour of the exhibited artwork of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat on December 13, 2023, at the Brant Foundation in New York City, added gladness to the attending “cheerful givers.”

Art enthusiasts, old and reconnecting friends, and new acquaintances many traveling by a chartered bus from the Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus, NJ, gathered at the Brant Foundation, to view the unprecedented, private exhibition of the collaborative art of Warhol and Basquiat led by Contemporary Art Advisor Aileen Agopian, and The Brant Foundation’s Docent, Mario Fasani. Aileen Agopian’s authoritative input about Warhol and Basquiat, their place and impact on contemporary art, informed those present and enhanced their appreciation of the two icons.

Mario Fasani, spoke in detail about Andy Warhol’s emphasis on consumerism, his celebration of pop culture, and elevating everyday items like lemons, apples, soda bottles, and soup cans. Warhol painted mundane items to depersonalize himself from his art, Fasani noted. Fasani also spoke about Haitian American, Brooklyn-born twenty-something artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s expressionism and highlighted his extraordinary collaboration with Andy Warhol expressing art creatively on the same canvas at times, and ‘reforestation of each other’s art’ at other times, as shown in this special exhibit. The artists used mediums such as silk screen ink, acrylic, synthetic polymer paint, watercolor, and oil stick on linen, canvas, wood panels, and even on punching bags.

After being treated to an exceptional experience, the guests had the opportunity to pose questions and be privy to Fasani’s and Agopian’s expert elucidation.

AMAA NY/NJ Orphan & Child Care Committee Chairs Vicki Hovanessian and Seta Nalbandian

According to the Brant Foundation, the “Basquiat x Warhol, is an exhibition of works from the artists’ influential collaboration in the early eighties. Curated by Dr. Dieter Buchhart and Peter M. Brant in collaboration with Dr. Anna Karina Hofbauer, this is the first time this iconic collaboration has been the subject of a major New York exhibition in over twenty-five years.” Peter Brant is one of the most important collectors in New York who started collecting contemporary art at 19, focusing on young emerging artists and supporting them, upon the recommendation of eminent art dealer since the 1960s, Leo Castelli.

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Those in attendance included members from the NY/NJ Evangelical community as well as the NY/ NJ Armenian Relief Society (ARS), The Tekeyan Cultural Association, the ADL, the daughters of Vartan, The Diocese, the Prelacy, and guests from California, Colorado, and Chicago.

After the tour, the attendees gathered at the Yara Lebanese restaurant in New York City in a convivial atmosphere of fellowship. The festive dinner of Middle Eastern delicacies was preceded by a thoughtful prayer filled with expressions of gratitude by Jennifer Telfeyan-LaRoe.

True to her magnanimous nature, Vicki Hovanessian spoke of the impetus for the event and had a kind word to say about each guest. The attendees echoed co-chair Seta Nalbandian’s remarks about chairlady Vicki’s phenomenal contributions and myriad accomplishments amid further testimonials and appreciative applause.

An impromptu birthday celebration for committee member Dr. Celeste Telfeyan Helvacian was a much-appreciated gesture before everyone departed the venue with hearts filled with the spirit of giving and a sense of benevolence.


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