Restart Gyumri

Civil Initiative Centre NGO

The story of the grown-up school, the people of Merkurov. Gayane Papikyan

As a child, around 1996 and 1997, when I was walking with my parents in Gorki Park in Gyumri, I always noticed children older than me with pictures and papers, who were painting outdoors. I approached, examined and admired their pictures with interest. I was told they were from painting school and doing sketches. True, I painted a lot on my own, but deep down I always dreamed of being one of them. I was not lucky enough to become a student from Mercury, but years later I had the great honor of sharing my knowledge with the people of Mercury. Always entering the school threshold, I realize that I have become part of a structure with a hundred-year history. And every time I talk about art, culture, artists in Gyumri, it is impossible not to mention Gyumri Art School. There are few people in the city who have not heard or contacted the school at least once, be it in the field of art or not. Almost all the past artistic events, the memories of the artists are connected with that school.

It has been a century since The Merkurov Art School became the cornerstone of Leninakan and Gyumri modern painting / art. The school has developed a special style of thinking in the city. Founded in 1921 as a painting studio. In 1936 it became a four-year school. One of the founders of the studio was the 20th century Armenian painter, graphic artist Gorg Brutyan. What is interesting is that the school has gone through its historical path for a hundred years and “saw” the three historical layers of the city. It was founded in Alexandropol, established in Leninakan, and continues to develop in Gyumri.

It should be noted that it was the only state art school in the region. “The art school had a great behavior, because it was the only one, and it was difficult to pass the exam, the school was paid,” says artist Gagik Manukyan.

Initially, the school was located in St. On the first floor of a house near Nshan Church, then moved to the school called “Daltoplan”. In the 1940s, it occupied part of the former gymnasium building. In addition to Armenians, Russian painters taught in this school for the first years and later. For example, Yulia Verzhbitskaya, whose name is closely associated with the Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan sisters. Mariam and Yeranuhi’s painting talent appeared from school age. As soon as a painting studio opens in Alexandropol, the sisters are immediately hired to teach there. Painting teachers, including Verzhbitskaya, were the first to notice the sisters’ talent.

Later he moved to the territory of the Pedagogical Institute. “Classrooms in the institute building had corridors with doors, when there was an exhibition the doors opened and there was a big hall where there was a screen, every week films about artists were shown, about Surikov, Vasnetsov, Repin, slides were shown or movies were taken in October. It was a tradition and a teaching method. I remember our art teacher, the Russian artist Mol, was a very interesting, strict woman. He did not teach me a lesson, but I remember it very well. “The director of Gyumri Aesthetic Center Susanna Mkrtchyan tells with love.

For some time it was located in a profitable house belonging to the famous rich Dranpyans in Gyumri, which was partially destroyed after the earthquake. Despite the tragedy, not only did the artists from Gyumri not leave the city, but they also continued to teach art to their children. The school was not idle during those difficult years. Even in half-ruined buildings, the children enjoyed painting. “The building was old, in a state of disrepair, but it did not prevent us from visiting with love. Sticking to the walls, we were a little afraid to go to school. The school had a heating problem, but that did not stop either, as the teachers were warm, the environment provided, and the students aspired. In winter, if you did not have time to finish the painting quickly, the brush would be frozen in the water bowl. “Despite all this, it was the years with the sweetest memories,” recalls former graduate, young artist Gohar Safaryan.

Since 1989, the class has been held in a temporary cabin in the park. According to Gagik Manukyan, after the earthquake, the director was Samvel Lachikyan, who organized a dormitory school in the park.

“I have had many gifted students. Many were admitted to Yerevan, and without training with a tutor, were immediately admitted to the institute. I remember there was a child who did not even have paints and brushes. He had sharpened the tail of the brush, and with the sharp tail alone he was making such sketches with a sword that, to his astonishment, one could present an exhibition as a graphic work. “During the earthquake, there was no water. We brought snow, melted it, made water so that we could paint.” Artist Aghunik Berdikyan adds.

Having more than a dozen leaders, all of whom have their contribution and contribution, but Shant Sargsyan, who has been the head of the school for thirty years (1945-1977), has his commendable contribution to the success of the school. Together with the enthusiasts united around him, he made the school one of the leading and well-known educational institutions in Armenia, the fame of which has long gone beyond the borders of the republic.
In 1977-1987, Sergey Mirzoyan was appointed director of the painting school. The subjects taught at the school were drawing, painting, sculpture, decorative applied art, tapestry, and composition. Angela Manvelyan became the founder of the tapestry class at school. “After Terlemezyan, I returned to Gyumri / Leninakan and worked first in a public school, then in a school in Artik. Since there were good quality threads there, I made tapestries interesting. An exhibition was organized in Gyumri and I brought my tapestries to the exhibition. It was then that Mirzoyan saw my work and invited me to work in a painting school. ”
Studied in Mirzoyan’s class, then taught at school by artist Gagik Manukyan. “There was no sculpture class for many years. When we were deputy director, we started a sculpture class. We were working in the garden hut school, we had just shaken off the earthquake disaster. There was a very good atmosphere at school, we went to sketches, although we did not have time to draw. We organized an exhibition-sale in the USA to support children living in cottages. Then Hovhannes Gasparyan (Gibon) became the director.

Apart from being an interesting artist, Gasparyan has always stood out with his humor. It is typically seen in Aram Baghdasaryan’s memoirs.

Of course, the artist is known primarily for his paintings, but humor also helped to get to know his inner world better. During the years when Gyumri was immersed in darkness, Gibo laughed…

-What about me? The gang is next to our house. There is always a photo there and there…

Currently, the school is located in the building of the former library after H. Tumanyan, located at 78 Jivani Street. The current director, young artist Jacqueline Sargsyan, has been working for some time to improve the building conditions, to expand both the space and the educational conditions. Modern trends are already paralleled with the traditional. “When I enter the painting world, it is a different world, every corner is artistic, every kettle is hanging from the ceiling, the spoons are attached to the door, every corner is artistic. I had teachers there who are no different from a friend, we feel free at home. ” Volodia Kocharyan from the current Merkurov is sincere

P.S. You can talk about the school in pages, there are many stories, many memories, but it is impossible to mention all of them individually, I apologize to all those whose names were not mentioned or were not presented in more detail.

The phenomenon of Gyumri yards or from Alekpol Hayats to Lennakan yards.

When traveling to any city, be it more or less familiar or unfamiliar, the first: mandatory precondition is to walk to master that city. The charm of any city, except for the main buildings and architectural symbols, are the small, narrow, crooked and straight streets. However, the key to getting into the textures and touching another environment is to discover the “hidden” parts of the city, the yards.

Recently, there has been a lot of tourist interest in Gyumri. Tourists come to Gyumri, walk around different parts of the city, streets, historical and cultural places. But without the cozy, colorful yards of Gyumri, it is impossible to imagine the face of the city.

In addition to being of historical and architectural value, yards are important parts of houses or buildings. After all, this is where clever gatherings, pavilion conversations, arguments and women’s gossip, the fine art of bathing, children’s games, learning yard culture take place. Every house or building in Gyumri has its own story, each story has its own yard / hayat.

Let’s mentally walk the streets of Gyumri, enter the yards and discover the attractiveness.

Initially, if we go back to the historical development of residential architecture in Gyumri, the yard was one of the main parts of the house, around which the other parts of the house were located. Since the time of Kumayri, the closed yard has been the central place in underground or semi-underground rural houses. Most of the yards had steps, platforms, passages, stairs.

In the Alekpo region, when the settlement received the status of a city, the rich organized their houses more luxuriously than each other. Already, one- and one-and-a-half-storey above-ground urban houses were concentrated around the yards. In this case, the yards were already better. Most of the yards had stone steps, platforms, pools, springs, and often wells. The interior of the yard is very interesting, with a built-in tonrat. As early as the middle of the 19th century, profitable houses became more relevant. The first floor of the two-story house served as a shop or other source of income, and the second floor was the residential area. The main entrance opened onto the main street, and the rooms were connected to the inner courtyard. In this case, the yard was also used for economic purposes.

The yard of the Geghamovs’ private house is one of the interesting and colorful yards of the Alekpo region. Currently, the Villa Kars Hotel, owned by the Italian Consul, is located there. It once belonged to the Geghamov brothers. The design of the building belonged to an Italian architect invited from Tbilissi (Georgia). All three brothers lived there after the house was built. Only one of them was married but had no children. His wife, Amalia Dmitri, was a literate aristocrat. After the death of her three brothers, Amalia Dmitri lived alone at home. Years later he sells the house, but on the condition that he will continue to live in that house. Now, Montaldo has organized the yard with decorative pebbles, a well, wooden benches, a fountain, getting a colorful and beautiful environment. It is of great interest to tourists.

The peculiarity of the Alekpol courtyards is the wooden construction of the inner balconies and doors, the ornate motifs of decorative wood carving.

An example of such yards is the yard of the Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan Sisters Gallery. The gallery building is located on the current Abovyan Street in Gyumri. The building was built in 1880 by wealthy merchants, the famous Gyumri family Keshishovs as their apartment. The gallery building is a vivid example of 19th-century Alexandropol urban architecture, incorporating elements of the traditional European Armenian architecture of the time, creating a unique feature of the city with its typical tuff structure, with a luxurious inner courtyard and wooden balcony.

One of such cozy yards is the yard of the former Sahakanushyan Girls’ School, which is located next to Surb Nshan Church. In 1882, at the expense of the funds raised by the inhabitants of the city, with the significant support of the rich, national benefactor Karapet Yuzbashyan, the Sahakanushyan girls’ school was opened. The Yuzbashyans’ house stands out with its attractive wooden yard. It was built by the wealthy Yuzbashyan family in the 1880s at the intersection of Tumanyan and Jivan streets, which served as a profitable house.

The Museum of Folk Architecture and Urban Life in Gyumri, also known as the Dzitoghtsyan House, is already captivating from afar with its beautiful wooden balcony. The building has two inner and outer yards, the latter is fenced with wrought metal ornaments. The arched gate gives a special charm to the building.

Recently, the huge courtyard of the former France Hotel has become a real discovery for many residents of the city, and now the garden garden of Chechil Gyumri Garden House by Chechil restaurant has become a favorite place for tourists. The former France Hotel was built in the 1880s by wealthy Rafaelyants. Once a luxury hotel, it hosted the city’s most distinguished guests. Served as a KGB office. It is also interesting – the wide gate leading to the yard, typical of the Aleppo style, the gates made by the hand of Gyumri blacksmiths.

One of the most interesting yards is the yard of the first municipality of Alekpol or the “Dowry Building”. 1897 When the mayor of Alexandropol, Gegham Ter-Petrosyants, married Nikoghayos Drampyan’s daughter, Javahir Khanum, the latter’s father gave him this building as a dowry. The newly elected mayor not only lives in this house, but also turns it into a town hall. Several residents live here now, and the building is in a deplorable condition.

During the Soviet era, these yards were already one of the most relevant places in apartment buildings. Each yard had a pavilion (besetka with bench and table). The courtyard was considered the only gathering place for adults, conversations and discussions. And yard games, entertainment are an environment for development and establishment for children. Pulpula / fountain was considered an inseparable part of Gyumri buildings, multi-room private houses / private houses / yards.

One of the unique and little-known but very characteristic yards of art is the yard of the building on Abovyan Street during the October Cinema. The yellow yard, which is flooded with narrow stairs, crooked tiles, and everyday colors, is connected with the name of the famous photographer Karakhan.

Karakhan photo studio was opened in 1939. Abovyan street, next to “October” cinema. It used to house the “White” Hamo grocery store. This photo studio was better known among the people of Gyumri as “Karakhani Photo”. The director of the photo studio was Gurgen Karakhan, a well-known entertainer and joker in the city.

As far as we know, Gyumri is also famous for the films shot here during the Soviet years, and the films, in their turn, in the yards, where many, many episodes took place.
The Yard of Movies has become a favorite place for tourists. From Gorky 22, now on Shiraz Street, one can find famous episodes from the films “Tango of Our Childhood”, “Happy Bus”, / an excerpt / “A Piece of Heaven”, “Dawn of a Sad Street”.

The building was built in the late 19th century and belonged to a high-ranking officer of the Russian garrison, Colonel Vekilyan. The colonel rented some of the rooms, mainly to Russian figures hosted in Gyumri in 1840-50. After our research and conversation with the residents, it became clear that 10 residents lived in the yard, but now there are many less, some residents have left the country, others have moved. However, the general condition of the building is visible without words, the dilapidated condition of the balcony, cracks and crevices in the walls.

However, the yards of Gyumri remain so attractive and some so hidden.

The article was written by Gayane Papikyan, a participant in the second round of the “Article Contest” organized by the “Restart Gyumri” Initiative Center NGO

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