BY ANGELA WRAHTZ
People living in the Portland area sometimes take for granted the rich artistic and cultural environment they live in. Sometimes they don’t realize how accomplished the artists are who call themselves neighbors. Consider Amalya Nane’ Tumanian who lives in Tualatin, a fantastic artist whose interesting life has come full circle. Literally.
To describe Nane’ as a powerhouse of academic and fine art skills is an understatement. She paints large expressive paintings which grace the walls of homes and galleries around the world. Nané also has a long list of solo and group exhibitions in the USA and abroad. She is represented in several European art houses, with three of those galleries in France including Paris. Specifically, she is represented by Gallerie Gavart, Paris, France; Carre d’artistes, Aix-in-Provence, France; and The Athens Galley, Athens, Greece. Notable shows she has participated in–and in a number of cases has won top awards–include SeeMe, SCOPE Miami, USA; IDSVA Juried Group Show, AW Asia, NY, NY; and Taipei Revolution, International Art Fair, 2014, Taipei, Taiwan.
Beginning in March and through April 2017, a sampling of Nane’s medium-sized works combining the abstract and the figurative will be on display in the Living Room Gallery in the Tualatin Public Library. With the helpful accommodation of the Library staff, a couple of larger works will light up the walls in other spaces in the library including behind the main information desk, in the study room off of the gallery space, and on a wall adjacent to the Children’s Room. What a treat for our community to enjoy these works. Perhaps you will find a work you will fall in love with, and you won’t have to travel to Paris to enjoy it or even purchase it.
Traveling to Paris to meet the artist is also optional since a special one-hour “Meet & Greet the Artist” is planned for Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 2 pm—3 pm in the Living Room Gallery (the space where the big fireplace and the artwork are) in the Tualatin Public Library. You are invited to meet the artist and talk to her about her art, perhaps how and why she sees her subjects the way she does, or whatever comes to mind from viewing the art. People of all ages are welcome.
Because you may be curious, I will share the reason she signs her paintings with the name Nane’—obviously there is a story here. Nane’ is a middle name Amalya legally adopted after a near death experience at the age of twenty-three. Nane’ was adopted in honor of the Armenian dual goddess of motherhood and art. At the time she survived her experience, Amalya was already on her path as mother and artist, so the name seemed to fit her chosen destiny. And it’s easier to sign a painting with a short name. Just ask Vincent.
Nane’s subject matter is diverse. She says, “I try to stay consistent with the topics that interest me the most – contemporary urban life and nature.” She adds, “In my recent works, I incorporate geometric elements with an organic representational or abstract forms. It is my interpretation of the contemporary life where technology has become an undivided part of the living environment and of nature.” Her preferred media are oils, acrylic, and mixed media for their convenience. If you google her whole name, multiple gallery listings will appear allowing you to view a great variety of her work.
Nane’s show in Tualatin will feature paintings from her “Dancers Series” which are figurative abstracts. Her main mode of communication is through abstraction since her priority is to capture the spiritual essence of a scene. To say it her way: “I am more concerned with the emotional impact of my artworks rather than with the portraying a specific subject matter– I express my observations as ideas through the contrast and harmony in lines, colors, and shapes, much like they would be expressed in the poetry or music.”
When she paints places, it is because she has “been there” and it is important to her. The small details are not as important as the play of light and the emotional context. When she guided me through her studio for a look at her works, it was with delight she said, “This was that little park on Second Street in San Francisco,” and “This was by the Academy of Art University in San Francisco early one morning.” Looking at these paintings, I could tell how she felt about “being there” when the crowd flooded the street and sunlight flooded the crowd. Creating from memory and imagination, Nane’ shows you through her artwork the world as she sees it, and the paintings present a powerful affirmation of beauty and goodness.
Born in Yerevan, capital of Armenian Republic, Amalya Nané Tumanian, and prior to emigrating with her family to the United States, Nane’ was already a well-established fine artist, art Instructor at the Yerevan State College of Arts, and an elected member of the Soviet Art Union. Some of her artworks were purchased by the Russian and Armenian governments and placed in the museums and public places in Armenia and Moscow and/or toured in group exhibitions that traveled through Hungary, Spain and Germany.
Life is full of disruptions, however, and Nane’ left Armenia in 1998, having been fortunate to “get out” prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the devastation in Armenia. Rampant starvation and other deprivations led to many thousands of tragic deaths shortly after she left. She came to the United States via the USSR which confiscated almost all of her personal belongings of any worth along the way.
Like many immigrants to the US, she came to America and had to start over. Not speaking a word of English, she learned quickly, ultimately adding English to her repertoire of four languages. Working hard to build a new life for herself and her family, she did many things including ultimately earning an MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Today, she is in the final stages of completing her doctoral program from which she will earn a Ph.D. from the IDSVA, the Institute of Doctoral Studies in Visual Arts, Portland, Maine, a unique and prestigious program which goes to the philosophical and substantive heart of Aesthetics.
The specialized degree program Nane’ is completing produces graphic and fine artists and art professors, art historians and curators at museums and auction houses. Nane’ will accomplish her professional goals when she is again a professor of art who also sells her art into collections around the world. With her artwork getting international exposure and recognition (and already selling), all that is left is to find her place in the academy, which unfortunately for Tualatin may mean she won’t be our neighbor for much longer.
Nane’s circle is nearly complete. She is almost back to where she started, teaching and painting, a place she has always wanted to be. I encourage you to indulge the wonderful opportunity to meet her and enjoy her art as we launch into Spring.
If you are interested in learning more about the Living Room Gallery program at the Tualatin Public Library, contact Coordinator & Gallerist Angela Wrahtz at angela.wrahtz@ comcast.net. This program is sponsored in part by the Tualatin Arts Advisory Committee.
Angela Wrahtz lives and works in Tualatin. She is a writer, award winning artist, President of WOW! Wild over Watercolor ~ Guild of Artists, school volunteer, and a mother of two. You can view her art at www.watercolorsbyangela.com.