The Iranian-American artist Ali Bozorgmehr, whose art is an amalgamation of Persian calligraphy and painting, has been honored by the Art of Elysium, a California-based organization that pairs volunteer artists with communities to support individuals going through life challenges.
Born and raised in Neyshabour, Bozorgmehr is one of Iran’s best-known living artists. With a distinctive style called zibanegar, or lyrical painting, Bozorgmehr often features one or more deer in his pieces, and incorporates poetry from Rumi, Hafez and Omar Khayyam.
The Art of Elysium is an artist-led organization built on the idea that through service, art becomes a catalyst for change. Founded in 1997, it is aimed at individuals who have been taken ill and hospitalized, or displaced, or who are undergoing a life crisis. The organization holds a year-end gala entitled “Heaven” where an artist creates his or her own idea of paradise. Past artists have included Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Muller and Marina Abramovic.
Guests at this year’s Bozorgmehr Art Salon Dinner on Aug. 28 were served dinner prepared by Chef Hanif Sadr and his staff at Komaaj with a menu of cuisine from the northern region of Iran. Artelice Partisserie in Los Angeles prepared and served Persian desserts. Another highlight was a private musical performance by Azam Ali, who played songs from her new album “Phantoms.” She was accompanied by her husband, Loga Ramin Torkian and keyboardist Gabriel Ethier.
Kayhan Life spoke to Ali Bozorgmehr and his daughter Shahrnaz Nancy Southwick, a member of the gala’s organizing committee.
Ali, how long have you been involved with The Art of Elysium?
I originally got involved with the Art of Elysium when I donated an art piece for the Heaven gala’s silent auction. As an Iranian artist, I feel privileged to be honored. It gives me great pleasure to see so many notable members of our community gathered. Their presence will certainly build bridges and bring their art and good will to those in need.
Social change results from sharing ideas and introducing new and different cultures. Events like tonight allows everyone involved making new friends and getting acquainted with art that they may not be familiar with.
Nancy, why did you become involved?
A dear friend of mine had told me about the organization for a number of years and asked me to become a member of the host committee for the Heaven Gala. I got to experience the inspirational work that the Art of Elysium provides when my son broke his arm and had to go through a number of surgeries. While [he was] in the hospital, my husband and I witnessed the extraordinary programs the organization brought to recovering children through music and art.
[Pictures Credit goes to HELEN REZVAN]