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Expressing The Inexpressible

For many, art is a wonderful language that transcends social and political boundaries and cuts right to the very core of what makes us human — the ability to find a very personal way to express the inexpressible.

Serge Alahverdian, a prominent local artist who recently moved from Bethpage to Babylon, is the current treasurer of the Independent Art Society, a club of like-minded individuals for whom art is the governing passion of their souls.

“I’ve been doing art all of my life,” he said. “I still have my drawings from when I was seven years old...I kept everything. I do art continuously, every single moment that I have...but unfortunately, you can’t make a living out of it, and I had a mortgage and two kids and five grandkids, so I needed to do what I needed to do to take care of all of that...but art will always be my first love.”

Independent Art Society President Ruth Siegel, a Jericho resident, said that the group has been in existence since 1951; in fact, even a few of the original members are still around, she noted.

“We’re a group of artists, and we represent a variety of mediums and a variety of styles...some are more traditional, some are more modern,” she said. “But what we all have in common is a love of art in general.”

The group gets together every second Monday of the month at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library; all art mediums are welcome, and the group often has the services of guest artists who give demonstrations and lessons on various art techniques, which inspires the members to improve, adapt, and refine their own personally styles, Alahverdian said.

“It’s a great way to be able to get together with fellow artists,” he said. “We talk about art, see what our progress is and discover new ways of painting...anyone can attend our meetings, and if they want to join, it only costs $20 a year, so it’s very affordable. It’s really a great time to get together with like-minded people, because your parents or friends will always like your artwork, but to get actual constructive criticism is so much better.”

This evening’s art demonstration was being conducted by Alahverdian himself. The topic in question was life sketching, a skill that he said is vital to any aspiring artist working in almost any medium.

“In this group, we’re all artists...but what a lot of us paint, a lot of us don’t get to draw; you need to draw in order to be a better painter because it helps with perspective and shape, so tonight is all about drawing and sketching from a life figure,” he said. “One of our members is going to model, and first we’re going to do a five minute sketch, then a 10 minute sketch, and finally a 20 minute sketch...with each longer time frame, we’ll be expanding on the detail and shape that the artists can capture.”

Karolyne Sapadin of Plainview has been a member of the Independent Art Society since 1983; she said that she has always loved art ever since she was a small child, and her time with the Art Society has only increased that love to an even greater degree.

“This club is very dear to me,” she said. “The people are very warm, and we all have the interest and the love of art, and we learn from one another. It’s so wonderful...we share a common bond of art.”

Westbury resident Madeleine Pizaro is another long-time member of the club, and considers fellow member Sapadin to be one of her very best friends; she said that her experience with this special group of people, and the friendships she has forged with them, has kept her love of art burning bright for many a year.

“I love to paint and draw, and the people here are great,” she said. “Everyone is friendly and it’s the best organization that I’ve ever tried.”

The Independent Art Society gets to show off their hard and heartfelt work when they hold two public shows a year where their artists compete; they’re judged by a high-profile member of the art community, with one contest actually held at the Plainview Library, where their artwork is displayed. In addition, Siegel said that she has some fun plans to expand the scope of the activities offered to members of the club, including outside day trips to art museums as well as meals out; the goal, she said, is to make the Art Society a truly social experience.

“This is a very congenial group of people,” she said. “I’ve found that, with this particular group, there are no cliques; there’s no political playing, no art snobbery. We get along great, every one cooperates, and we have fun, and I want to build up even more comradery, as opposed to a group that just meets once a month.”

For more information on the Independent Art Society, visit the website of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library at www.poblib.org.