Cheerful giving: AMAA NY/NJ orphan and child care fundraiser for displaced families of Artsakh

By Gilda Buchakjian Kupelian 

PARAMUS, N.J.—As we celebrated the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and in the spirit of charity, a fundraiser was organized by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) NY/NJ Orphan and Child Care Committee to raise critical funds for the displaced families of Artsakh. The AMAA continues to advance its mission to support these families to restore their normal lives and meet their long-term needs. A private, curated museum tour of the exhibited artwork of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat on December 13, 2023, at the Brant Foundation in New York City, added a touch of cheer to the attending generous givers.

Art enthusiasts, old and reconnecting friends and new acquaintances, many traveling by a chartered bus from the Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus, New Jersey, gathered at the Brant Foundation to view the unprecedented, private exhibition of the collaborative art of Warhol and Basquiat, led by Contemporary Art Advisor Aileen Agopian and The Brant Foundation’s Docent Mario Fasani. Agopian’s authoritative input about Warhol and Basquiat and their impact on contemporary art informed guests and enhanced their appreciation of the two icons.

AMAA fundraiser at the Brant Foundation in New York City

Fasani spoke in detail about Warhol’s emphasis on consumerism, his celebration of pop culture and his elevation of everyday items like lemons, apples, soda bottles and soup cans. He noted that Warhol painted mundane items to depersonalize himself from his art. Fasani also spoke about Haitian American, Brooklyn-born artist Basquiat’s expressionism and highlighted his extraordinary collaboration with Warhol, their use of the same canvas at times and ‘reforestation of each other’s art,’ as shown in this special exhibit. The artists used mediums such as silk screen ink, acrylic, synthetic polymer paint, watercolor and oil stick on linen, canvas, wood panels and even on punching bags.

After being treated to an exceptional experience, guests had the opportunity to pose questions and be privy to Fasani and Agopian’s expert elucidation. According to the Brant Foundation, the “Basquiat x Warhol, is an exhibition of works from the artists’ influential collaboration in the early eighties. Curated by Dr. Dieter Buchhart and Peter M. Brant in collaboration with Dr. Anna Karina Hofbauer, this is the first time this iconic collaboration has been the subject of a major New York exhibition in over twenty-five years.” Peter Brant is one of the most important collectors in New York. He started collecting contemporary art at 19, focusing on young emerging artists upon the recommendation of eminent art dealer since the 1960s Leo Castelli.

AMAA fundraiser at the Brant Foundation in New York City

Those in attendance included members from the NY/NJ evangelical community as well as the NY/ NJ Armenian Relief Society (ARS), the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the ADL, the Daughters of Vartan, the Diocese, the Prelacy and guests from California, Colorado and Chicago. After the tour, the attendees gathered at the Yara Lebanese restaurant in New York City in a convivial atmosphere of fellowship. The festive dinner of Middle Eastern delicacies was preceded by a thoughtful prayer filled with expressions of gratitude by Jennifer Telfeyan-LaRoe.

True to her magnanimous nature, Vicki Hovanessian spoke of the impetus for the event and had a kind word to say about each guest. The attendees echoed co-chair Seta Nalbandian’s remarks about chairlady Hovanessian’s phenomenal contributions and myriad accomplishments amid further testimonials and appreciative applause. An impromptu birthday celebration for committee member Dr. Celeste Telfeyan Helvacian was a much-appreciated gesture before everyone departed the venue with hearts filled with the spirit of giving and a sense of benevolence.

Armenian Missionary Association of America
The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) was founded in 1918, in Worcester, MA, and incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in 1920 in the State of New York. We are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Our purpose is to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people everywhere, both at home and overseas. To fulfill this worldwide mission, we maintain a range of educational, evangelistic, relief, social service, church and child care ministries in 24 countries around the world.

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