Abe Megerdichian left behind a very large collection of metal art, all of it recognizable objects, and all with Abe’s understated sense of style. Three pieces stand out of a total of over 400 as enigmas.
Abe was not a gambler yet he was taken in by dice. Perhaps he won big at a floating craps game on his ship during his time in the navy. If he did, he never mentioned it. Maybe he had some affinity for backgammon, an obsession with his kids and Armenian friends. Did he even know how to play? If he knew, he never played a game at home. He did, however, make his interpretation of a backgammon set from solid aluminum with “stones” in aluminum and in brass, but he purchased the tiny white dice.
As art, Abe would make a single die, 2” or more wide in brass or aluminum. He also made pairs. Onto bookends he’d mount a duo on their flat faces or, more precariously, on their corners, secured with hidden screws drilled on the diagonal. Sometimes he’d paint the indented dots on the dice faces. Other times he’d leave the dice and dots a monochrome color such as matte black.
The most curious of Abe’s dice themed pieces was the 2-5/8” wide single object he wrapped as a gift. It’s assumed the gift is a die since the dot indentations appear through the paper and in their expected locations. The wrapping is extra wall paper that Abe had hung in his kitchen, and its fittingly metallic paper. One has to ask, “Where was the die’s mate?” One would except the gift to be dice, not a die. There is also the Catch 22 question of “Who was the gift for?” To answer the question means un-wrapping the gift that dates to at least 1983, for that’s when Abe died. Yet to remove the wrapping paper eliminates the enigma while not guaranteeing the answer of whom it was for, since Abe may not have dated the object. A date could be correlated with a family member’s birthday.
Let it suffice that Abe is keeping us guessing about this piece.
Rings, 17 Interlocked
Abe’s wife Jenny enjoyed entertaining and using the then fashionable napkin rings. Abe made her a set of 15 copper rings, likely from a 2” copper pipe which he cut perpendicularly at 1” lengths.
Probably in similar fashion, Abe cut the same or separate pipe into 17 equal rings, 1/2“ high each. He then interconnected the rings into a chain that resembles a child’s paper creation with strips of paper circled around and Scotch taped. But unlike paper artwork where the pieces of tape are visible, Abe’s assemblage shows no seams. Machinists and metal workers have scrutinized this artwork and found no evidence of how Abe connected the rings. No one at home ever asked and Abe never said. He took the secret with him.
Abe’s son Robert has a feint memory that the copper artwork was hung on the family Christmas tree one year. At 1.1 pounds total weight the suspended artwork on the pine branches bent them downward to their limit. Abe would have found that amusing.
Savings Bank for Half Dollars
Perhaps to encourage his 3 kids to save, or maybe to exercise his artistic freedom, Abe made a savings bank for each child as a Christmas present in 1979. Each bank was the size of a cardboard, half-gallon, spouted milk container. To distinguish the banks one from another, Abe painted them black, rust and gold. Each has a slot on the top, into which a half dollar would comfortably fit. Abe seeded each bank with a ½ dollar coin and encouraged us to put those special coins into the banks as often as possible. Half dollars were more common in circulation then.
The mystery with the banks was that Abe provided no way to open them. Unlike a plaster of paris piggy bank which one could smash to open, these banks were made of steel with all the edges welded together. Opening the banks therefore means getting a welder with an acetylene torch. Enigmatic question arise: “Are the banks to be opened when full to retrieve the saved coins, or are the artistic banks to remain as pieces of art, regardless of how much money is inside?” “How many half dollars do they hold?” It may have been Abe’s intent his kids would ask him to pry open the banks when they became full. Perhaps the banks were all a joke that Abe enjoyed playing on his kids. Either way Abe didn’t live long enough for the banks to fill up.