Baba’s Colors

I started drawing and painting as a child. Every time I had a “time out” (and trust me there were many), my mom would open the door in my pink gingham-draped bedroom after, only to find about 20 sheets of big paper full of hand-drawn, intricate scenes, such as (and yes, I remember) a ballroom or a cruise ship with tons of little people and various activities happening on them. It’s funny what you remember of your childhood and what fades with time. 

I always loved to color, paint and draw. Every time a crayon or paintbrush was in hand, I felt a surge of excitement, as if I were armed with a tool that could dismiss my angst over my “timeouts”  and would amplify a type of freedom. If you are an artist of some sort, you get it. It is a powerful feeling. 

Often called “Baron Manoug,” my dad was an Armenian immigrant born in Greece. He grew up with cultural arts—drawing, music, dance—in the Old Country Iraq. Growing up, my way to his heart was through visual art. I clearly recall “baba” lighting up like a firefly when I brought a painted piece from school or made a clay ashtray. He didn’t care. Maybe he saw a piece of himself in me. We connected through art. Everybody has their thing with a parent. Some through sports, some through theater… us through art. He was also a hobby artist and very, very handy. He could fix anything because he had to back in Greece where his family found refuge. They were dirt poor so he, like countless others at the level, had to be innovative. He could find five uses for even a pencil. Stories of him making things out of wood carved out and selling them as a boy on the streets for food often fill my head when I hear of First World issues.

I miss my father as he has been gone for almost 15 years, as of October 2018. He taught me how to love and appreciate the beauty of art in everything—branches of a tree in fall, an Armenian artist or two and even my little cartoons in the local paper. This little piece of him is the greatest inheritance a daughter could ever want. 

Ardem Hardy

Ardem Hardy

Ardem Hardy, known as Auntie Ardem, has been active in the Chicago Armenian community her entire life, holding positions at Taniel Varoujan Armenian School, ARS, AYF, CJC, The Armenian Weekly, Camp Haiastan and two Olympics Steering Committees. Despite two degrees in Marketing, her love is always art. She volunteers her time teaching drawing, crafting, canvas painting and face painting. She also creates murals in both Chicago and Armenia, where she works as an art teacher every few years at an orphan camp with her own children. Her husband Jim, from the Racine Armenian community, cannot draw a stick figure; their children Aren, Tavit and Natalie, are active in the Armenian community but would rather get a root canal than draw a rainbow.
Ardem Hardy

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