Theater & Arts

Cultural events celebrate Armenian spirit, remember genocide

With April 24 fast approaching, there is a flurry of cultural commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Some have direct allusions to the genocide itself while others celebrate the Armenian spirit. Here are some highlights:


• “The Armenian Genocide: A Centennial Exhibition, 1915-2015” at Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library, includes a wide array of compelling and dramatic images. The exhibition features the newly released “Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide,” which features photographs of the Armenian genocide assembled as an instructional guide for human rights education.

The photographs were collected from numerous repositories, sources and individuals, including the U.S. National Archives, Library of Congress, Near East Foundation, Oberlin College Archives, University of Minnesota Library and the Fresno State Armenian Studies Program, which is presenting the exhibition.

Another part of the exhibition is “The First Refuge and the Last Defense: The Armenian Church, Etchmiadzin, and the Armenian Genocide,” which details the importance of the church during a horrific time.

The exhibition opens 6-8 p.m. Friday, April 10, in the Leon S. Peters Second Floor Ellipse Gallery with a reception co-hosted with the Friends of the Madden Library. The reception and the exhibition are free and open to the public, but reservations are needed (go to and enter code AGR).

The show runs through May 29.

• At the

Jewel fm Gallery

, a searing painting titled “Massacre” by Arshag Amirkhanian is featured in an exhibition with works by noted local artist

Nancy Youdelman

, his grand-niece. It depicts Turkish soldiers killing Armenians with Mt. Ararat as a backdrop. Amirkhanian was an untrained artist who began painting in early 1960s after he retired from a long career as a house painter. The painting’s graphic, primitive style adds to the emotional pull of the piece.


• Many of Fresno’s art galleries and cooperatives are marking the 100th commemoration this month by featuring Armenian artists. One of the best works is found at

Gallery 25

: a multi-media installation by

Lorraine Peters

(who has a separate show of intriguing paintings) and

Carol Tikijian

. Their “An Armenian Experience,” consisting of three richly dressed mannequin forms representing the past, present and future “Armenian woman,” is laden with symbolism, such as a raven perched near the headless form of the “past” woman. It’s a powerful piece.

• I could find some direct references to the genocide in

Ronald Dzerigian’s

“Allegorical Portraiture: New Paintings” at

1821 Gallery & Studios,

but mostly the show is a musing on the general human condition in terms of family, loss, love, judgment, evaluation, intimacy, aloneness and history. Immersive and disturbing, the show has a lot of impact.


• There have already been a number of musical events commemorating the 100th anniversary events. The big one still to come is the

Fresno Philharmonic’s

“Witness & Rebirth: An Armenian Journey” featuring soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian. The program includes Kradjian’s “Cantata for Living Martyrs.” The performance is 7:30 p.m. April 25 at the Saroyan Theatre.


• A Requiem service will be held 5 p.m. April 23 at Ararat Cemetery, 1925 W. Belmont Ave.

• The Armenian Genocide Centennial — Fresno Committee will unveil a monument dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Genocide in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony April 23 at Fresno State near the Satellite Student Union.

• A flag-raising ceremony at Fresno City Hall will be held 9 a.m. April 24.

• A traditional community commemoration will be held 7:30 p.m. April 24 at St. Paul Armenian Apostolic Church, 3767 N. 1st St.

More online: For a complete listing of events, go to