Requiem for the Forgotten: the Armenian Genocide

Reviewed by Kathy Leonardo

Dia de los Muertos, is a celebrated ritual for those who have passed on in the Mexican culture. Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park brings to life two views of death concurrently in one gallery. Director and curator, Kathy Gallegos, invited Sophia Gasparian, a politically charged artist, to curate a portion of the exhibition about the Armenian Genocide. This tragic time in history, which occurred in 1915, is still honored and remembered by modern-day Armenians.
Upon entering Avenue 50 Studio, one is immersed in celebratory imagery as part of the Dia de los Muertos: Celebration of Life exhibit. Throughout this glorified ritual, flowers, shrines and mementos of lives savored create a sense of pride and deep acknowledgement. Veering to the left of the main gallery, you are steered into another world. At first look, you see a childlike theme, confronted with the harsh reality of genocide. As the images collide, you are transfixed on the horror, as seen through a vulnerability and tragic ambiguity of a child.

Requiem for the Forgotten: the Armenian Genocide is a haunting exhibition, curated by artist, Sophia Gasparian and featuring works by herself, Kaloust Guedel, Arpine Shakhbandaryan, and Zareh. Gasparian collaborates with such contemporaries as Lydia Emily, Terri Berman, Daisuke Okamoto, Douglas Alvarez, Farzad Kohan, and LeNic to further demonstrate how the lines of oppression are blurred. The blunt subject matter of this exhibit includes many forms of racism and fear based ignorance used to squelch the oppressed. These images co-exist in this exhibition as a sort of shared tragic solstice.

Pomegranates (a symbol of the Armenian culture) take the form of skulls when bleached and piled on top of one another. This visual proves to provoke further symbolism of a shattered culture by supporting the heavy weight of a wrought iron cross in the corner. Directly above, are the collaborative efforts of the artists. Though the themes vary, these images identify a longing that unites each of us. An insurmountable triumph of love prevails through the eyes of the innocent with tributes to late rapper Easy E, as well as John Lennon. Voicing the echoes of a people tossed aside, Requiem for the Forgotten forces the viewer to reflect on the dimension of the theme of equality and the government’s view or lack of acknowledgement of these horrific events.

Sophia Gasparian is the voice of her generation. Though she has curated before, Sophia is first and foremost a painter. Gasparian is known for her sociopolitical work. As an artist, she thrives on blatant political subjects. She runs full steam ahead into the relentless despair, never avoiding the harsh provocative residue. Sophia stands strong in her own vulnerability.

Gasparian draws strength and inspiration from her great-grandmother’s story. At six years old, she was hidden by neighbors after her family was killed. Sophia offers the viewer a direct eradication of her soul. She provides a glimpse of the innocent, inflamed by the stories passed down from her family.

Sophia Gasparian was born in Armenia and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She has been creating art since she was twelve years old. Sophia uses nontraditional media, such as stencils, stickers, and spray paint, in her work.

Stop by Avenue 50 Studio before November 4th for the chance to take in Requiem for the Forgotten: the Armenian Genocide in conjunction with Dia de los Muertos: Celebration of Life. Both exhibits stand on their own, reflecting each other’s loss, yet whirling in a constant contradiction. Avenue 50 Studio is located at 131 N. Avenue 50, Highland Park in Los Angeles. 323-258-1435. For more information about Sophia Gasparian, see her website at


These two paintings by Sona MIrzaei are companion pieces: The Journey and Passions Prevail - 40.2x50.2 each. They are currently piced at $2000 each, both are framed and matted. Passions Prevail was nominated and listed as a shortlist winner in the London International Creative Competition. Please contact me, Kathy Leonardo for more info at

A free spirit who was raised in Los Angeles Sona Mirzaei left a career in finance in 2008 after choosing to embrace her calling as a professional artist. As she notes, painting has been part of her life since she was five years old so it was little surprise to her family and friends when she made the bold decision to make creating art her full time career. Her first notable success as an artist was to be chosen as a finalist for the 2009 London International Creative Competition where she attracted the attention of event organizers and secured official representation. Although LA is one of the most competitive of markets, Sona's persistence and determination to explore her craft and use her work in support of charitable causes, while making her art accessible to others, has gained her the respect of her fellow peers and art lovers.

Sona has also been busy producing her ongoing I am My Art series, a unique conceptual self-portrait project that is intended to present moments where she is literally at one with her work while taking on the persona associated with each piece. She is thrilled to begin work on I am My Art Part III and will debut it later this year. This form of art really test her creativity and Sona always loves a challenge and this is what makes art exciting for her especially this particular series.

Sona Mirzaei is a true visionary and her passion for art transcends the competitive nature of the international art scene. Sona sincerely desires to help others appreciate the beauty and potential of their own surroundings by adding unique artwork that complements their individual personality. Her work is timeless and reflects a hybrid of depth, emotion, and aesthetic appeal that always leaves one wanting to see more of what Sona has to offer. 

See recent article in Campus Circle . For more info about Sona Mirzaei see her website,


Jules Muck recently moved to Venice where she has been making a name for herself. Her style is highly recognizable and her work is become consistently sought after. She started showing her work at the Venice Art Crawl. Jules is the artist who painted the old gas pumps (across from the Erwin) at the Venice Art Crawl, Gas Station Event. See photo and my Examiner article about it. 

Jules Muck started as a graffiti artist in the subways of New York City. Street art has become the new rage. Look what happened to Shepard Fairey? Don’t miss out on an up and coming artist. Remember, Art is an investment and it’s doing a heck of a lot better than the stock market is these days.

For instance,
this piece, entitled LA, is 30x40 spray paint and oil paint on canvas, the asking price is $595.00. Feel free to contact me, Kathy Leonardo to discuss. This may be negotiable, if you know of anyone interested, please email me at


Another fabulous piece of art for sale is Venice Lights, which was painted by Dianne Neuman. Not only is Dianne Neuman an internationally acclaimed artist, she also owned and curated a gallery in Venice called VOCA Art Gallery. She helped so many artists and offered them a place to show. Dianne was incredibly inspired by Sponto, a local Venice Hero. By the time Dianne became a part of the Venice community, Sponto had already passed away. There was a gaping hole left from our loss of Sponto and the artistic haven he provided for many local Venice artists and performers. Dianne told me, that she was really inspired by the stories she had heard about Sponto. She also revealed to me that when she was painting Venice Lights, it was as if Sponto was leading her while she painted this work of art. The painting, Venice Lights never did get sold and has been stored and shown in local Venice establishments such as Figtree's Cafe. Venice Lights is soon leaving Venice. She is 5 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet. Dianne's asking price is $5000.00.

As Dianne has always said ..." I would love to sell her to a Venice person. That's where she belongs." Dianne also owns and operates a gallery in Mexico and spends most of her time there as well as in Northern CA, continuing to paint and teach classes. Feel free to contact me, Kathy Leonardo to discuss. This is negotiable, if you know of anyone interested, please email me at