He still remembers Georgia O'Keeffe on roller skates. Growing up as a painter's son in a small New Mexico town, Peter Sarkisian got a firsthand view of many of the art scene's luminaries — including the times when they set aside the brush and played party games with his family.
In the abandoned school building that his parents converted to a living space, Sarkisian sometimes felt removed from mainstream society. Still, he witnessed the business end of the arts: the collectors who stopped by the house, the shows in New York, the revenues that paid the bills for years.
In time, Sarkisian became a renowned artist himself. But when visitors attend the "Sarkisian & Sarkisian" show at the Orange County Museum of Art, some of them may wonder who the second Sarkisian is.
More than 30 years ago, Paul Sarkisian, who had won raves and drawn hefty commissions in Los Angeles and New York, walked away from the scene. While his son racked up shows worldwide, the elder Sarkisian stayed in New Mexico, honing his craft and living the speculated-about life of a J.D. Salinger or Bill Watterson.