Community News

California's Newest Old World Business

by: Chris MacDonald
Posted: June 19, 2017

SEAL BEACH...Stepping into the new "Voice of Cultures" business in Seal Beach is like visiting the Old World. Founder Rabi Haddad, features amazing handcrafted art from 16 talented artisans, mainly living in Jordan, Damascus and Lebanon.

Carved Syrian-Levantine Walnut Sofa with Mother of Pearl handmade by a Syrian in Damascus Sunshape Chair made in Jordan by Syrian refugee Carpet Map of Persia showing where each carpet design was created. (woodcarving) New addition of Cornucopia (created in Ancient Greece) symbolizing fertility with grapes and egg shapes.

 

"Many of these artists reside in underprivileged areas, are disabled or refugees from Syria," said Haddad, 38, a native of Jordan and tour guide for 19 years, who wants to help Middle East artists, while introducing individuals to people, cultures and countries through art.

"When one of our pieces is sold, we have them hand-make another for us. They're so skilled, they can create anything for anyone on mosaics, jewelry, woodcarving and more."

Visiting the store, Facebook.com/Voice-of-Cultures and soon-to-be website will show you just how incredible their work is.
One of the things that really "caught my eye" is a table made in Damascus out of Walnut, Mahogany and Rosewood of Pearl. It sensationally opens up in different layers to become a chess board, baccarat table, card table and much more.

There's even an 18th Century cabinet, painstakingly created out of solid walnut and other ingredients.

Rabi, who has a wife and baby son, came to the United States in 2016, where his spouse told him to pursue his dream. He had friends in Orange County and chose Seal Beach to fulfill his mission.

"Our goal is to create an Artist's Village in Seal Beach, where visitors can really experience ancient cultures through tastes, sounds, aromas--all while they see beautiful art from the Middle East. This experience will help them better understand cultures," said the Christian man, who has given numerous Biblical Tours of the Middle East. He also arranges tours to that part of the World.

One of his artists, Boris Khechoyan, 56, a partner, is an internationally-known master woodcarver and antique restorer. He's often in the Seal Beach store carving away.

Born in Baku in the former USSR, Boris' woodwork has been honored from Moscow to Wisconsin and Ohio to the San Diego and Orange County Fairs, where he won top honors. He also has restored museum furniture dating from the 15th Century.

At universities in Baku, Boris studied various styles of woodcarvings, including Gothic, Rococo, Empire and Classicism.

The amiable teacher and carver, immigrated to the United States in 1991, with only a box of handmade tools and his portfolio. He ended up winning top awards at the International Woodcarvers Conference and actually patented flexible woodcarving tools he created.

In 1999, he carved a chair that Pope John Paul II sat in during his visit to St. Louis. One of his similar chairs is on display in the business. He specializes in inlaid work, incrustations, Mother of Pearl, bone and hand-carvings and more. He has photos of whole walls he has carved in kitchens.

"I've seen the top museums in Rome, France and around the World and I've never seen any craftsmanship better than at Voice of Cultures," said Kathleen Pedick, a former top jazz singer in Scotland. "They're bringing the Middle East to Orange County, especially for those who don't travel."

"The artist's authenticity is impressive. There's a table with linen cloth over it that's actually entirely made out of wood. It's awesome!," said Joe Pedick, Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel of the Harbour. "Rabi and Boris are so welcoming, hospitable, personable and so knowledgeable that we enjoy going to their business. This is a real unknown treasure in Seal Beach!"

To find out more, check out "Voice of Cultures" which recently opened at 348 Main St., Seal Beach, visit Facebook.com/Voice-of-Cultures or call Rabi at 562-850-3335 and Boris at 714-743-1117. Photo/story:Chris MacDonald


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