I was born a second generation Armenian in Fresno, the ancestral home to Armenians. Both sets of grandparents were immigrants who escaped the genocide. One family settled in Fowler CA to farm while the other settled in Oakland, CA entering the grocery business.
The Armenian Apostolic Church was instrumental in solidifying this generation of survivors. Not only was the church a place to worship but also served as a way to keep this culture alive and thriving. The church was often the center of everything. Armenians traveled afar to come together for weddings, picnics, baptisms using the occasion to show off their offspring scout potential husbands for their daughters, gossip, share recipes and last but not least discuss family genealogy.
I love the mainstay traditions; men playing pinochle, tending to the shish kebab on the BBQ while the women arranged platters of pilaf, yalanchi and other delicacies all the while chitchatting about the latest doings in the community. As a child I always found myself at family gatherings observing and exploring the delightful details of life in what was one big noisy group of Armenians. A few paintings incorporate everyday familiar objects such as lace doilies, grapes, roses and letters written in Armenian and church icons. Others are direct portraits of family members.