Mery Sahakyan performing a play by Arus Mkrtchyan (Karine Armen photo)

Machanents 9th International Art Symposium Exhibition Held in Glendale


By Karine Armen

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

GLENDALE — The Machanents 9th International Art Symposium Exhibition was held at the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat on Sunday, April 7.

Grigor Machanents Babakhanyan lives in Echmiadzin and is the founder of Cross of Armenian Unity NGO. CAU started in 1987 to have support and activities for orphans. However, it was officially founded in 1991 to provide educational and cultural programs for the youth.

The 10th International Art Symposium will take place in Echmiadzin from August 1 to 7.

The International Art Symposium started in 2014, and each year, it has a different theme. This year, the theme was “The Eight Note.” The goal of the symposium is to bring Armenian and international artists together to share artistic experiences and promote intercultural dialogue. The participants can stay at Machanents Complex, which is a reasonably priced hotel.

A group of participating artists (Karine Armen photo)

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Cross (Khatch) in the name is short for khachmeroug, the crossroad between Armenia and the diaspora. Artists from many countries participate in the annual art symposium. They create artistic pieces during the symposium, and they sell them later during a group exhibition to support the projects of the complex.

The Machanents Complex includes a preschool, art therapy center and classrooms for learning chess, cooking, painting, pottery, dance, music, and computer skills. CAU focuses on children with physical or social challenges such as autism and Down syndrome. Every year, around 700 children study at the center. The purpose is to create jobs so Armenians do not leave the country and have good-paying jobs.

Narine Chilingaryan has participated in the symposium since 2022. She is a host on Horizon Armenian TV Dimankar, an actress and artist. “I love connecting with different artists for a good cause,” she commented enthusiastically. “We produce art for a week and donate it to the center to support their programs.”

Ivet Navasardyan is an established artist who currently lives in Glendale and has an art studio for children. She participated in the art symposium, which was held in an oceanfront park near Laguna Beach in California. Ivet was ten when she attended the art school at Machanents Complex. “The children’s choir performed at senior centers; we were happy and proud.” She added that she was happy to connect with Babakhanyan after several years.

Left to right: Grigor Machanents Babakhanyan, Ararat Homentment Executive Director Serge Grakasian, and board member Dr. Saro Khemichian (Karine Armen photo)

The symposium’s exhibition included a short play performed by Mery Sahakyan. A few years ago, she was a student at the theatre at the Machanents Theatre, which was established in 1989. Many orphans participated as actors. The theatre trains children in acting classes and theatrical skills. Orphans and children with disabilities attend for free. Mery was thankful to Grigor for providing the opportunity to perform in Glendale.

Armineh Ghazaryan, who moved to Yerevan from Tehran, has been a long-time supporter of Machanents Complex. She commented, “Grigor Babakhanyan is a trustworthy and proactive man who helps children with physical and emotional challenges who need support and encouragement.”

During an interview on Barev TV with Nune Avetisian, Machanents Babakhanyan said, “We need to create positive life conditions so Armenians stay and diasporans move back to Armenia.”

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