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From an early age Garbis shows a deep interest in spirituality and the arts, namely drawing.
His father, Harout, being a musician and master “oud” player, becomes his first inspiration by offering him his first exposure to the arts, i.e. love for music.
By age 8, the waging war in Lebanon takes its toll on Garbis and his parents, who become the victims of a devastating mortar attack. This leaves an everlasting impression on the young artist and later is to become a powerful underlying melody throughout a major portion of his body of work.
Being a freethinking individual, at the tender age of 15 and against the wishes of both his parents, after secretly taking and then passing the admission exam at the Armenian Apostolic Seminary in Bikfaya, he enters the monastery with the burning desire for spiritual fulfillment by finding the answers to his questions about his place in the universe.
After excelling in his academics and finishing the graduate program early, he decides to come back to society where he would be able to pursue his undying love for fine arts. Thus, he enrolls into the Toros Roslyn Hamazkayin Fine Arts Academy in Beirut. A few years later, because of the intensifying war situation he moves to the United States where he is rejoined with his family, and his ailing mother, who not long after his arrival, passes away from an advanced case of ovarian cancer, after battling it for several years.
This horrific event becomes a second major turning point in Garbis’ life, and further drenches him into the abyss of the unknown and the frailty of the human experience, which is inevitably and so poignantly witnessed in his pieces from this time period.
While strengthening the foundations for his artistic flight, his love for learning leads him to study the Mind that is behind all human experience. Thus, he studies Psychology, Philosophy, Mythology, Sufism, Tantra, Comparative Religions, Buddhism, Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation.
Professionally, from the age of 18 Garbis has had his own business, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. As an internationally known designer, he has won the first place for designing the “Teardrop Diamonds” series at the First Annual DeBeers International Jewelry Contest in 1995. Garbis has worked as chief designer for Star Diamond Corp. of NY and LA. Here, he worked closely with such major companies as Helzberg Diamonds, Ben Bridge, Kay’s Jewelers, Zales, I.B.Goodman, Philippe Chariolle, and Fabrikant, to name a few.
But, because of his conviction in the importance of experiencing the Divine in nature, and living a religious life beyond dogma or superficiality, he realized that the younger generations are always in need of the opportunity to explore the sacred within the profane. Therefore, his longing to instill love for nature and the beauty of finding a language to share its splendor with future generations, he decides to resign from his post as the head of design department at the multi-million dollar company, and fully throws himself into the highly experiential, privileged, and dynamic world of teaching.
His teaching career first began as an assistant professor at the College of Buddhist Studies, and later as a teacher of troubled and behaviorally challenged teens (trying to get back into society), and three years later decided to join the Armenian Mesrobian School, where he served as a senior administrator and chairperson for the Math, Sciences, and Computer Graphics/Publications departments. He also taught Junior and High School students art, design, science, as well as Yoga, which he designed a special curriculum for, thus making it part of the PE program.
Garbis’ pursuit of true expression of art is inseparable from his spiritual leaning, which is fair to say is his true backbone. In fact, art can be seen as a mere manifestation of what transformation takes place within, thanks to his practice of meditation.
Over the years, he has been privileged to have studied with and been inspired by several teachers from around the world, including, including H.H. the XVI Dalai Lama, Osho, David Frawley, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Master Sheng Yen, Bhante Gunaratna, Robert Aitken Roshi, Bhante Havanpola Ratanasara, and very recently, Bhante Vimalaramsi.
Because of his utter respect and value for all cultures and religions, he soon became the ABC’s (American Buddhist Congress) Executive Administrator’s assistant, where he was on the committee that presented H.H. the XIV Dalai Lama with the Bodhi Award at the Wilshire Jewish Temple in 1999. In addition, over the years he has represented the Buddhist Sangha Council at the Buddhist - Catholic Dialogues.
On the artistic front, his work has been shown both in Europe and in the US, where recently his painting Appreciation (acrylic) secured the first place (2011) in the category of Painting. In congruence with his drawings and paintings (in their traditional form), and in order to enhance his abilities as an artist, he continues to also work using digital media mostly Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects. This in turn, greatly helped him as well as his students over the years to get in touch with their own creative selves, whether in discovering the eloquence of weaving passionate colors onto an accepting canvas, or interpreting them into the world of 0’s and 1’s and creating masterpieces through the digital canvas of a computer screen.
As has been with many artists, Garbis’ journey in art has been undergoing some major transitions from his earlier days on forth. This is clearly visible through his vast body of work, especially his Pre-2000 pieces, whereby we see his intense spiritual longing for the Ultimate (as the most sublime) through much struggle and sadness, the very compelling and powerful emotional outburst, embodied in the intense desire for detachment from suffering. In contrast, in his Post-2000 ones we see a total paradigm shift, i.e. a sense of release, a definite aura of deep appreciation married with an air of acceptance of the beauty of the world around him, as well as the one inside, found in life’s presented manifold experiences.
It is here that welcoming whatever the universe brings to our doorstep needs to be greeted with a smile, at least on the inside. But, as anyone who has lived at least a single day on this planet would attest to, this can be quite difficult at times. Therefore, the value to live with a smiling heart no matter the circumstances is truly immense in changing one’s entire being, and through osmosis the entire world.
Herein lies the role of meditation, where we gently dive deep within and with the proper guidance try to understand and develop the wisdom to see the world as it is, beyond our incessant cravings to which our lives often become victims. To this end, Garbis has helped many to find and realize this for themselves by teaching them meditation, in addition to teaching yoga privately.
For him, everyone is an artist, if one were to live a life that manifests a life of expression of the essence of the universe, i.e. transforming the seemingly mundane into the sacred, where the artist’s life itself becomes a living revelation that raises the awareness of beings on this planet.
“A true human being is an individual, a creative person, a complete lover, a living embodiment of compassion, someone who is not afraid of looking foolish, of crying, of laughing. S/he is real; someone who is ALWAYS ready and willing to learn, ALWAYS a disciple; s/he is not necessarily a knowledgeable person, but s/he is as 'full' as an empty vessel...ready to be filled by existence...rejecting nothing.” - GB