Leo Sarkisian is well known to VOA listeners as the long-time host of Music Time in Africa. What is not as well known is that the veteran VOA broadcaster and musicologist, who retired two years ago, is also a skilled painter. His paintings and sketches, all of them on African themes, are now on exhibit at the Serengeti Gallery in Capitol Heights, Maryland, very near Washington, D.C.
Leo’s love for African music brought him to all 54 African countries, and wherever he went he always brought along his sketchbook to draw the faces of people he met. Many of those he met were musicians and their instruments are always featured in Leo’s portraits.
The exhibit at the Serengeti consists of more than seventy of Leo’s paintings. There is also a book available at the exhibit, Faces of Africa: A Life’s Journey, that contains many of Leo’s paintings.
“People sometimes say my drawings are so real, almost like a photograph,” Leo says. “But I like to think they are much more than a photograph. They contain a sense of the person that comes through in the drawing, because of the understanding I have of that person. I know what is there, inside, and I want the viewers to see that, too.”
The exhibit is open until November 8 at the Serengeti Gallery and Cultural Institute, located at 7919 Central Avenue, Capitol Heights, Maryland.