Artist in Diaspora
Vahe Berberian Paints, Writes and Lives with Humor
Armenian International Magazine (AIM)
by Hrair Sarkis Sarkissian
“Are you a vampire?” asks a young girl coming out of the coffee shop and stopping at Vahe Berberian’s table. Yes, Vahe Berberian has a table at Starbucks Coffee in Sherman Oaks, California, and this is just one of the many strange questions he is asked there. At 4PM of any given Los Angeles afternoon one can find Vahe in this corner which has become his ‘office’ for the last six years. Anyone who knows Vahe knows that they can stop by and spend some time with him, people watching, talking, laughing, solving the daily crossword puzzle, and maybe having an occasional cup of coffee.
“It’s not the coffee,” says Vahe, “it’s just that it is walking distance from my home and it has become a place where I know pretty much everyone, people come here looking for me. And the ones I don’t know, I eventually meet.” After being there a few minutes, one can see what Vahe means. It is rare that anyone who walks by or walks into the coffee shop does not know him. From a warm smile and a wave, to a big hug and kisses, Vahe continues to touch people’s hearts and put smiles on their faces, while engaging them in sincere conversations.
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The art of life and the life of art
Vahe Berberian’s milagros come in words, images, and emotions
Saturday, March 31, 2007
by Paul Chaderjian
Before we enter his second-floor studio, painter, performer, writer Vahe Berberian insists on serving oranges and mandarins from the trees that line the apartment building’s driveway. Vahe has been nurturing these trees for more than a decade, and you can tell he’s proud of them. He likes green things, he says.
Three of the units in the white apartment building – a few miles north of the San Fernando Valley’s arterial Ventura Boulevard, in the flats of the Valley – are where Vahe paints, lives, and stores his works of art.
Six months out of the year, however, here’s not here. The tall and thin 51-year-old, with salt-and-pepper braids, spends a lot of his time taking his performance art and his monologues to Armenian communities as far away as the homeland and Australia.
On this Tuesday afternoon, Vahe is in the Southland and plucking oranges off his tree with a long-handled fruit picker’s pole. He retrieves about a dozen oranges and mandarins, placing them in a plastic grocery bag. Once he is settled in his sunny and airy upstairs studio, peeling an orange, we begin our interview.
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