Tbilisi streets

We now live near Sioni Cathedral.

We now live near Sioni Cathedral.

We can see Sameba Church in the distance (photo by Susanna Melo).

We can see Sameba Church in the distance (photo by Susanna Melo).

We live near this street (photo by Susanna Melo)

We used to lve near this street (photo by Susanna Melo)







Street dogs_sm

Grapes over balcony_sm



Freedom Square

Susanna Melo and I are back in Tbilisi. We live in a nice flat on Leselidze Street  near Freedom Square. What a wonderful location! Freedom Square

Public Service Hall, Tbilisi

Susanna and I are back in Tbilisi after spending a year in Columbia, SC. There’s been a lot of new construction. One eye-grabbing building is the Public Service Hall. It is a -1-stop location of all kinds of social services. I asked a friend and she said it was amazingly efficient. She needed some help with her son’s Georgian passport and she was in and out in 10 minutes. The inside is very large and can serve many people at once. The design is completely open, which may make for noise problems, but it is interesting–lots of different organic shaped sections. See here: http://psh.gov.ge/?lang_id=ENG and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Service_HallBridge to Public Services building_sm

Public Services building_inside_sm

Tamarisi Art Gallery displays Edisher Baramidze’s paintings

Susanna Melo and Tamara Tsintsadze in Tamarisi Art Gallery; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Tamara Tsintsadze; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Story by Susanna Schisler Melo

I started up a conversation with Tamara Tsintsadze at an IWA (International Women’s Association) coffee morning when I thought I had overheard her say that she was a Latin American Studies specialist and had been to a conference in Rio. The latter was correct, but she is an African-American Studies specialist—and the only one in Georgia!

Tamara is well traveled and has many interests. You could say she is a woman who wears many hats. She is president of a couple of organizations (Rotary; Society of Georgia-China Friendship) and Director of the School of Languages and Humanities as well as the “Tamarisi” Art Gallery.

Since Keith and I enjoy learning about Georgian artists and their work, we decided to pay a visit to Tamara’s gallery in Saburtalo. She was kind and gracious as she talked to us about how she started her gallery and her various collections of art.

We were quite surprised when we walked into her well-lit, well-designed, spacious room with paintings covering all wall surfaces. Most of the displayed paintings are by the deceased artist Edisher (Botso) Baramidze, whom Tamara began collecting 15 years ago. She now owns approximately 250 of his paintings.

The story behind Edisher is bittersweet. He would have been my age had he not died 6 years ago. His bohemian lifestyle cut his life short. He came from a creative family, but according to an article I read, the family members were so involved in their own work and careers that Edisher was neglected. As a schoolboy, Edisher got involved with music; he put together bands and experimented with a variety of music trends. It was only later in his life that he began painting.

Keith and I enjoyed looking at Edisher’s various painting styles. Many of his works use mixed media such as “paint, stone, brick, clay, sawdust, human hair, woolen threads, seeds and other things.” The photo below shows a portrait of a man whose hair is actually the human hair that belonged to his daughter after she got a haircut!

If you would like to see Edisher’s paintings, please contact: Tamara Tsintsadze at Tamriko@gmail.com.

Edisher (Botso) Baramidze’s painting incorporates his daughter’s hair; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Narikala Fortress at night

Narikala Fortress overlooks Old Tbilisi near the baths and you notice it at night more than during the daytime because of the lights. Although the original fortress dates from the 4th century, it was destroyed, and these remaining fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Some of Susanna’s sculptures

Dona Maria and Senhor Jose

Dona Maria and Senhor Jose

“My Gift to Keith” and “The Etruscan Dreamer”

“My Garden”

Teapot set

Maria Zurita, a talented silversmith and more . . .

English names from the left: Elizabeth, Anne, Tiniko, Nino, Pamela and Mar; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Story by Susanna Schisler Melo

I was quite intrigued when I first saw one of Maria Zurita’s silver pendant creations worn by a friend of mine. I could not make out exactly what it was, but I thought the design was gorgeous. I later found out that Maria’s creation was my friend’s name written with the symbols of the Georgian alphabet, which is itself a piece of art!

Throughout the year, Maria and I have had many lively conversations at social gatherings with other Spanish-speaking women.  She is from Venezuela; she met her Georgian husband in New York City, and for the past 6 years or so, the couple and their two adorable and energetic sons have been living in Tbilisi.

Maria’s artistic nature led her to study architecture in Venezuela, but when she moved to NYC, she began working with gold. Soon afterwards, she started making silver jewelry and selling it on West Broadway with other artists. While she studied photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she also created her personal designs of silver and brass jewelry, selling it at the Young Designer’s Market on Bleacher Street with artists like herself.

When Maria Zurita arrived in Tbilisi, she continued her silversmith work, but the work was not as easy as in the United States, where you basically buy all the materials ready made (i.e. a thin sheet of silver) and then “put things together.” Here she buys silver pellets, melts them with copper using a propane torch to create sterling silver. She then puts the melted metals in a mold to create a thin sheet of silver.

Despite the difficulties of adapting to a new way of making her art, it was here in Tbilisi that Maria became inspired to create her own pendant designs using the Georgian alphabet symbols. The result is a genuine piece of jewelry that incorporates the flamboyant Georgian handwriting into a unique design showing an individual’s initials or name. A perfect Georgian gift!

Maria Zurita not only specializes in these silver pendants, but she also works with gold, glass, enamel and cloisonné.  You may want to contact her to see her spectacular pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings, etc. She is a talented artist who has a keen sense of color, shape, and design, and any woman would love to have one of her pieces!

Contact information:

Maria Zurita, Jewerly Designer

Mobile: 595-249-000

E-mail: mariazur@msn.com