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One of Hagop’s “Aristocrats” paintings is a woman wearing a draping headscarf and an embroidered blouse. Her features are pretty and delicate, with small petal lips and thin brows. But this is not just a depiction of a Middle Eastern woman…
Born in Damascus, Syria in 1977, Hagop immigrated to the United States with his sister when he was just twelve years old. As a Syrian-Armenian, he is motivated to preserve his culture and share it in a way that challenges stereotypes. While Hagop’s works are eye-catching – even startling – in their surrealism upon first glance, they are very much grounded in reality.
Globalization and multiculturalism is not just foreign policy or trendy fusion restaurants; for a growing number of people, it is in their DNA. Reconciling two cultures can be nearly effortless, but for most it takes years of introspection and struggle to find a balance that works. All mixed relationships and individuals are the sum of its parts, and this collective mixed experience of accepting two cultures, learning to connect these puzzle pieces, and creating a cohesive identity is what binds these individuals together.
As I walked past “shelf talkers,” which are book recommendation cards handwritten by employees, and “Edgar Allan Poe-ka dot” socks, I re-immersed myself in this familiar, homey culture. The store, decorated in warm browns and deep reds, seemed to draw everyone from senior citizens to parents with their kids in tow to dating teens.
Despite the rise of e-commerce, Allison Hill, president and chief executive officer of Vroman’s, doesn’t think that the store’s role in the community has changed over its 122 years of existence. Wearing a brown bob and an azure blouse that matched her eyes, she animatedly told me about the history of Vroman’s.
“I just want people to be happy when they see my paintings” says artist Erin Hanson. In her studio, golden frames surround large panels of dizzying flower fields, jagged red cliffs, rivers trickling over rocky beds, and dense mountain forests. Erin’s art draws inspiration from the great outdoors. Whether she is visiting a new city for a show or touring a national park, she is constantly in search of scenes to paint.
Many of her works are inspired by her experiences rock-climbing and backpacking—she still takes week-long trips once or twice a year for the sheer enjoyment as well as to find more material for her paintings.
Erin has developed a personal style, called “open impressionism” making oil paint her primary medium because she likes the texture and its resemblance to the great Vincent van Gogh.