Monday, September 28, 2009

Rouzanna Berberian Named Featured Artist in Monrovia!

While Fine Art Trekkin' through the City of Monrovia, California, Ginger and Luke Van Hook came across the artist Rouzanna Berberian in 2005.

It was our first Art Festival that we were selected to participate in and it just so happened to be windy. Art Festivals are held all over the nation, giving communities an opportunity to visit with the artists, bring the family, and enjoy the great outdoors while appreciating the fine arts. The weeks before, Luke and my father had gone to great lengths to build custom aluminum art easels that would hold Luke's large paintings. Unfortunately, we had not counted on the wind. In the early morning as we set up our booth along with about a hundred other artists in Monrovia Library Park, our paintings and set ups blew over as did the ones for the artist next to us. As we struggled to help each other, Rouzanna Berberian looked up and exclaimed..."Oh my God it's Luke and Ginger!" and thus we recognized each other from attending Pasadena City College about five years earlier. Our mutual inspiration and motivating force for the first two years of our art education was also Jim Morphesis as it had been for Rouzanna. It was indeed a pleasant surprise and a pleasure therefore to be showing our work side by side with a classmate we loved and highly respected!

Since then, Luke and I have witnessed as Rouzanna developed her style of painting, graduated from school, raised her lovely children with her husband Ohannes Berberian and began her teaching career, dedicating her time to the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts and the after school program.

It has been about four years since that once windy art festival in Monrovia Library Park and Luke and I have done a lot of fine art trekkin' through all kinds of communities discovering wonderful artists of every medium, so it is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we now learned that the MONROVIA ASSOCIATION OF FINE ARTS has announced Rouzanna Berberian as their featured artist for the October Arts Festival 2009! Lots of changes happened in Monrovia as well. The new library opened and this year's festival will be held in the newly renovated park grounds. At best we will expect a warm October weekend on the 10th and 11th but the quality of the festival is one of the best with or without wind!

I had the honor of interviewing Rouzanna to write up the M.A.F.A. press release and set up her photo. One of the unique qualities Rouzanna has which makes her an emerging artist to watch is the ability to make her students think carefully about the message in their artwork and to not be intimidated by anyone who would try to dissuade their intentions. Rouzanna told me one of her favorite paintings is the painting of a large red bull upon which is text painted at the bottom of her painting stating, 'No Bull!' When I had the opportunity to see her work space in her studio I also saw the original photograph of the bull which had been her inspiration for that image. Rouzanna is not only an elegant woman, a tender mother and a lovely wife, she's a strong artist with a bold yet sensitive inclination. She knows how to balance her home and her artwork, how to give of herself to her community, and how to reserve a little extra time for reflections at the end of the day. I learned from Rouzanna about the Armenian Genocide. She stated to me that she would have had a lot more relatives, had it not been for the Armenian Genocide that took relatives from her Grandmother and her friends. Rouzanna has participated in art shows in Glendale in support of this issue so close to her heart, yet she carries her self proudly as a surviver, not taking any 'bull' from anyone about her art. She is currently working on new artwork that reflects the changing technologies of our time. She's taken apart some circuit boards and begun to experiment with painting the paths the circuits run through.

Personally, I've realized our paths crossed on a similar circuit grid in our community and what an honor it is to have come to know Rouzanna Berberian and her family. Congratulations on an honor well deserved! Featured Artist, 2009!

Rouzanna Berberian 2009

Biography /Personal Learning Theory

I grew up in Yerevan, Armenia, a place rich in culture, art and architecture. After the high school, I got accepted at Karl Marx Polytechnic Institute and studied Radio Engineering. After I finished the first year, my parents immigrated to the United States and I continued my education at Pasadena City College.

I always loved art but never dared to take art classes. I thought art was for people with “special talents“. After an encouragement from my husband, I took a beginning drawing class with an accomplished artist and educator Jim Morphesis at Pasadena City College. It was a turning point in my life. I found something that I was searching for my entire life. I “found” ART. It opened up a completely new world for me filled with dreams and imagination, passion and excitement. For the first time in my life, I knew what I wanted. An engineering career was not even an option.

Jim Morphesis always found something nice to say about every single work that students created. Once he told me “Don’t ever believe anyone who would say you can’t be an artist”. That statement stayed with me and helped me work hard to accomplish my goals. Following year I received “Honors for Superior Achievement in Painting” and the year after that I was the winner of the Julia Cannon Vocational Scholarship at the Pasadena City College’s Visual Arts and Media Studies Division.

I continued my education at California State University and had an opportunity to meet extraordinary Professors such as Dr. Manuel Aguilar, Dr. Daneshvari, Mr. Daniel Douke and Dr. Carol Jeffers. Their passion for art and teaching was contagious. Dr. Carol Jeffers, Professor of Art Education helped me see the art world beyond Western Art. She helped me explore cultures and art forms that I never thought existed. She introduced me to teaching and sparked a fire that will never extinguish.

My first teaching position was at the St. Gregory’s A&M Hovsepian School. The satisfaction of teaching art and inspiring students turned out to be a wonderful experience.

To learn more about teaching, I started attending Point Loma Nazarene University and met wonderful professors and teachers who shared my passion. By listening to their stories, doing relevant research on education helped me develop my own philosophy of education and it deepened my love for teaching.

Currently I teach art at South Pasadena High School and I’m actively involved in the fundraising activities for Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.

"No Bull" Painting by Rouzanna Berberian.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook 9-26-2009.

Rouzanna and Ohannes Berberian brought their daughter to the Brand Library
to see Luke Van Hook's opening reception August 2, 2008, Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Luke Van Hook states that Rouzanna Berberian's earlier exploration of expressionism in figuration has evolved into a synthesis of expressionism and geometric abstraction in her new circuit board inspired paintings

Rouzanna Berberian with the children from the afters-school program.
Focus One Gallery, Monrovia, 2005.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

Rouzanna Berberian's painting was selected to participate in a group show
at Royal Gallery's Xtreme Opposition, April 22, 2006
This group of international artists gathered to let out a solid voice of Xtreme Opposition, against all Genocides and mass murders towards human kind, because of their race nationality or religious and personal beliefs.
Royal Gallery is located at 1418 W. Glenoaks Blvd. Glendale, CA 91201
(818-502-9090) Photo by Ginger Van Hook

Rouzanna Berberian attends the reception for the group show at Focus One Gallery in Monrovia, California. Photographed with M.A.F.A. vice president, Frank Zgnoc
and Cindy Bolander on November 09, 2006.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

A well known icon on Foothill Boulevard is the black and white cow that advertises the Rigo's Mini-mart and drive-through local grocery store. Right across the street, Rouzanna Berberian's husband, Ohannes owns the camera repair shop called DigiTech. Rouzanna and Ohannes work in concert to support each other's dreams. When I went to visit the camera repair shop for a photo of her husband, I noticed he keeps a number of Rouzanna's paintings on the walls of his award winning business.

Ohannes Berberian taking care of the focus in the family...

Ohannes Berberian has also won awards for his camera repair business and he supports his wife's artwork as well. Digitech Camera Repair is located at
447 Foothill Blvd. Monrovia, California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

ANOTHER ARTIST AND EDUCATOR in Monrovia is the esteemed Mildred Lapson, the founder of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts almost 50 years ago. Practically following in her footsteps as she teaches her students to respect and appreciate the arts, Rouzanna Berberian reminds me of Mildred Lapson whom I've also had the privilege of meeting for the first time in 2005.

Focus One Gallery Show and

Monrovia Association of Fine Arts Reception Nov.15, 2005



A teacher of Fine Arts for the California Board of Education for five decades, Mildred Lapson pioneered the Fine Art interest and art programs in Southern California in the early 50’s. In 1963, she initiated the first art gallery in Monrovia, at the Alvord Room of the Monrovia Public Library where famous California artists’ work was exhibited regularly. The following year, she founded the first Monrovia Annual Arts Festival, which still thrives today.

Lapson’s subjects are varied, as her passion and dedication to her art is forceful and communicative. Her extensive research and sensitive drawings attest to her knowledge and skill with the human form, with a keen feeling of ‘simpatico’ to humanity. Her sense of humor is also evident in her satirical work.

Lapson says, “…As with the architecture of all things, including nature’s or artists’ whimsical improvisations, nothing is lasting without firm footing.” Feeling empathy for what she terms as “the precious jewels of life”, she adds, “They create prisms of brilliance on the facets of life and intensify life’s forms, but it also makes me aware of the dimensions of the dark. It is impossible for me to feel one without the other. My approach to painting is with primary and serious respect to the subject. The topic of each painting dictates to my senses what my approach will be and what medium will be used. It is my hope that its essence will communicate to those who will share my feelings. I lean on academic structure for dynamic support regardless of my improvisations.” Although her works and subject matter range broadly, and would technically be classified as Impressionistic, Miss Lapson likes to be identified as a “Contemporary Communicator”.

MILDRED LAPSON is listed in the International Dictionary of Biographies, London, England; Who’s Who of American Art, ‘59ff Library of Congress Card No. 36-27014: Who’s Who of American Women, ‘60ff Library of Congress card No. 58-13264; Who’s Who of the West, ‘67ff Library of Congress card No. 49-48186.

In addition, her works are shown in the Metropolitan Museum, N.Y., the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum, Hartford, CT., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA., the Frye Museum, Seattle, Wash., Plymouth Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA., to name a few among over fifty major museums and galleries across the nation. Lapson’s works are also included in numerous private and corporate collections in the United States and abroad, and are also included in the Permanent Collection and Archives of the Pasadena Museum of History, Pasadena CA.; the Permanent Collection and Archives of the Colchester Historical Society, Colchester, CT., the Permanent Collection and Archives of the Monrovia Historical Museum, Monrovia, CA., the Permanent Collection and Archives of California’s State Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse; the Archives of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Wash., D.C.; the Permanent Collection in Perpetuity of the Ellis Island Museum, at Statue of Liberty Is., N.Y.

Under the auspices of the U.S. Dept. of Justice and Immigration, Lapson’s paintings of immigration subjects toured the United States in all the Presidential Libraries and State museums for three years in celebration of the United States Centennial. On the West Coast, they were shown in Seattle, Washington; Los Angeles, CA; the Museum of Natural History; and a reception in her honor was given at the Ronald Reagan Library.

Bill Beebe, current President of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts
together with the original founding member of M.A.F.A.,
Ms. Mildred Lapson
at the Focus One Reception on December 05, 2006
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

A view of the Monrovia Foothills
as seen from the Monrovia Public Library
September 26, 2009
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

This year's October Art Festival will keep Mark Twain busy in the park as he reads his book and tells his stories to whomever sits beside him on the bench. "Celebrate the Arts...Where Culture Unites", brings together the best of two artistic societies in our community this year:
The Monrovia Association of Fine Arts and the Nuvein Foundation for Literature.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook

PAINT N' PLAY located at 418 Myrtle Avenue acts as the meeting ground for M.A.F.A. member meetings, a local fine art gallery and a place to nurture the arts in children.

Owners Lisa and Rachel enjoy the holiday party at Paint N Play
with their friends and family in December of 2007.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook.

The October Fine Arts Festival in Monrovia is one of the longest running fine art festivals in Southern California. The following photos have been selected from the October Festivals in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Collection and copyright of Photos by Ginger Van Hook


Mohna Manihar, Marketing Consultant (626) 359-4114 or (626) 991-4789

Frank Zgonc, VP and Juried Art Coordinator; Lisa Barrios, Paint N Play 626-802-7873

Bill Beebe, President, MAFA

Monrovia Association of Fine Arts

418 S. Myrtle Ave., Monrovia, CA 91016 626 802-7873

Ginger Van Hook, MAFA Press Liaison,

Monrovia, California—

“MAFA Announces Featured Artist for the October Arts Festival”

In keeping with yearly tradition for the October Arts Festival in Monrovia, the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts announces Rouzanna Berberian as the featured artist!

Rouzanna Berberian grew up in Armenia, a place rich in culture, art and architecture where she studied radio engineering. When her parents immigrated to the United States, she continued her studies at Pasadena City College and changed her major from Engineering to art as soon as she took her first drawing class at the encouragement of her husband. Her instructor, artist and educator Jim Morphesis inspired her by telling her just what she needed to hear at the time, "Don't ever believe anyone who tells you, that you can't be an artist". That statement stayed with her and she went on to win awards and scholarships. She received her undergraduate degree in Art Education and Studio Art from California State University and teaching credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. Mrs. Berberian currently teaches art at South Pasadena High School and is actively involved in the fundraising activities for Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.

Her website is

Monrovia Association of Fine Arts celebrates its 46th annual arts festival “Celebrate the Arts - Where Culture Unites” in Old Town Monrovia on Sat. & Sun., October 10th and 11th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm at Monrovia Library Park, 321 South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, CA.

The October Fine Arts Festival in Monrovia is one of the longest running fine art festivals in Southern California. This year MAFA is expanding the event in collaboration with another art group – Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts and will present live entertainment and additional art venues throughout Old Town on both days. The Nuvein Foundation has scheduled poetry readings as well as a self-publishing panel, a comic panel on storyboarding presented by Ralph Navarro and cartoonists presenting ‘live draws’, plus a drumming workshop presented by Vivek Babtiwale. In the Concrete Stage, Incendio will be performing on Saturday and the Lancer Jazz Band will perform on Sunday. Events featured by MAFA artists throughout the weekend will include local and regional fine artists displaying, selling and demonstrating their artwork such as painting, collage, ceramics, photography, jewelry, sculpture, etc. Hands-on art experiences for children, adults and family friendly activities will be available as well as Student Art Displays and a Silent Auction. The San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival will be a part of the festivities and live entertainment on multi-stage settings are scheduled throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday. Food booths as well as representatives from local and non-profit organizations will also have booths to educate the public about their special programs. This event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

MAFA's art events not only promote local and regional artists, but also support arts education in public and private schools. In recent years, when budget cuts adversely affected schools, MAFA’s donations of more than $50,000 have supported art education in after-school and in-school programs. MAFA has also funded schoolteachers through mini-grants in Monrovia, Sierra Madre, Duarte and Arcadia. Other local organizations supported by MAFA are Foothill Unity Center, Boys and Girls club of Monrovia and YMCA.

The Monrovia Association of Fine Arts is an all-volunteer organization with goals to enhance the lives of those within the community through interaction with the arts and to increase the opportunities of the children through art education. The Monrovia Association of Fine Arts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more info, please call (626) 802-7873 or visit the website or

1 comment:

  1. Rouzanna,
    I'm Catherine from Jim Morphesis' class, I'm sure you remember me. I have admired your paintings so much. You are a very talented lady. Success on your endeavors and I wish you all the Best of luck!

    -Your PCC acquaintance,
    Catherine A. Esquivel