Note: Author spent 16 days in Iran in August 2007. This article is part of the series that describes his experience in Iran.
On our 3rd day in Tehran, we visited a couple of museums and then went to the House Of Artists. On our way back, we were passing through Fakhrabad, one of the old neighborhoods in central Tehran, when my niece pointed at a glass gallery. The contrast couldn't have been more. In the middle of all these narrow and car packed streets, and among all these shops, there it was a small and beautiful gallery glowing ever so brightly! Since we were tired, we decided to visit the next night.
On Wednesday night, we headed for Fakhrabad again. We parked the car a block away and walked to the gallery. On our way, I noticed there were many shops selling poultry, mostly chicken. I commented that this place looks like "chicken bazaar." My nice said that was in fact the case. That made the contrast even more ...
When we got to the gallery, I noticed that there are chicken shops on 3 sides of the intersection. I took a few pictures and then went to the front of the gallery to take another one. At that time the owner came outside and was wondering why I'm taking pictures. I introduced myself and told her I was visiting from US and wanted to write a piece about her gallery for which she thanked me.
I then entered the gallery where my nieces and wife were already busy selecting pieces. I took a few pictures and then talked to the owner. Her name is Farzaneh Khanleri. She has a Masters in Archaeology; and she teaches at Soureh University, Azad University (central Tehran branch) and Qazvin International University.
I asked her about the gallery and if all of the works were hers. She said some were hers, some belonged to another University Teacher and others were works of her students.
Then I presented her with the one question that I really had to ask!
How did she feel that her gallery was in the middle of all these shops selling chicken?
The question didn't bother her at all. She said there were a couple of reasons the gallery opened in that location about 7 months ago. First, she commented that art shouldn't always belong to the upper class. So it seems this was a conscious decision on her part to open the gallery where it would be accessible to the people who may otherwise not have a chance to enjoy it. Second, she said the store originally belonged to her brother, Hamidreza Khanleri, who had passed away and the family had decided to convert it into a gallery in his memory.
She then said her feeling about the gallery is "it is like a flower in the middle of salt marsh (Shourehzar)". She also said Fakhrabad wasn't like this before and the chicken shops had appeared there about 2 years ago (I should add that many Tehran neighborhoods have gone through transformations, especially vertical growth, which makes them hardly recognizable if one is returning after a long absence). She obviously didn't want to give up on her neighborhood very easily! At the same time she commented that she feels the gallery has had a positive impact even on the people who run the chicken shops; they too sometimes walk into the gallery and talk to her and enjoy the artworks. So all in all she was very happy with herself and what the gallery had been able to achieve.
I should say the quality of the works was reasonable and the prices were affordable. This was clear from the fact that we didn't leave the store empty-handed!
Once the shopping was done, she gave us a few pointers about where to visit to see some historical and archaeological sites near Tehran. I truly enjoyed our visit to this gem of a place!
If you happen to be in Tehran, I recommend stopping by at the neighborhood and the gallery to pick up a few memorable moments and beautiful souvenirs.
No. 321/3, Fakhrabad street, Darvazeh Shemiran, Tehran
... Payvand News - 01/31/08 ... --