Dec 1, 2008

Nishan Toor

Two days after Thanksgiving I went to the kitchen to make tea and found Whinkla sitting at the counter. He’d quietly made a pot of tea and was busy with his Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake.

“Whinkla,” I said, a little surprised, “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Then be thankful I’m not a burglar after your first editions,” he laughed.

“Thanks for making tea,” I said, “but what brings you here so early in the morning?”

“I was sorting through a box of papers yesterday and found these,” Whinkla said, placing a rubber-banded roll of papers on my kitchen table, “and thought you might be interested.”

“What are they?” I asked.

Whinkla smiled, “They’re sketches and drawings created by Nishan Toor.”

“Never heard of him,” I said.

“No, not many have I suppose,” said Whinkla, “unless you happened to have lived in Southern California.”

“Where did you get them?” I asked, as Whinkla slipped off the rubber bands and began to unroll the sheets.

“That’s a story Larry, but to keep it short and simple I bought them at an estate sale in the mid sixties.”

“Tell me more,” I said.

“Well, discovering these drawings, and something else I haven’t told you about yet, got me thinking about my days in the southland. Handling these pages resurrected many pleasant memories. As I lay in bed last night I relived one of those days. It must have been 1966 and my parents and my grandmother, my dad’s mother, were making their regular weekend circuit of garage and estate sales in the Pasadena area. For some reason I’d decided not to hike up to Mount Wilson and instead tag along with them. Well, sometime during the morning we found ourselves at an estate sale in Altadena. In retrospect I see now it must have been the home of Nishan Toor, who I assume had recently died. I can’t remember much of what was for sale but my grandmother, knowing my interest in art, noticed a table covered with a variety of drawings. As I’ve mentioned before my grandmother was the consummate garage sale shopper and before I knew it she had talked whoever was in charge to sell her, that is me, a bundle of the drawings, some photographs, and the other object I mentioned for only a few dollars. I married a few months later and packed a lot of personal things away, including the Nishan Toor sketches. I hadn’t forgotten them but I didn’t think about them very often either, that was until a few days ago.”
I watched as Whinkla unrolled the collection of drawings, architectural plans and photos. Most were on tracing paper and quite small.

“So why have you brought them here Whinkla?” I asked.

“I knew you’d be interested and like to look them over,” Whinkla said, “and you’ve got a computer. I thought you might do a little cyber research on Nishan Toor for me and let me know what you find. I’d hate to see these things eaten by mice, or damaged even more in some way. If there was a society, or someone truly interested they might make a nice gift, might even be worth a dollar or two. He was primarily a sculptor, I think, and some of his work, like a statue to commemorate World War I soldiers was, or is, located in Paris, France. There’s a picture or two showing him with the statue, and the other item I have is a plaster bas relief maquette of a panel I think must have been for the pedestal supporting the statue.”

“Let’s go to the computer,” I said, “and take a look.”


Anonymous said...

I would be very interested to know more about the sketches etc of Nishan Toor's that you have. I am a granddaughter of his. If you have scans or photos please let me know. Thanks.
Sylvia Toor Cumming

Mariam said...

Nishan's 122nd birthday is coming up in Feb...

I am 1 of 3 granddaughters. Thank you for sending pics to my cousin--they are like treasures to us--some of the images were unfamiliar--

I am looking forward to updates on Whinkla ;0

Janet Prestholt said...

I am looking for sylvia toor cumming's e-mail address please forward to

Anonymous said...

My name is Aram Arakelyan.I am interested in history of Armenian art.Nshan Toor was one of the armenian artists who created in Diaspora. And I would love to see the
pictures you have.


Aram Arakelyan