Beaverton-based nonprofit promotes cultural connections through music, language, and performing arts.
The cultures, music, and languages of the world have a home in Beaverton at ArtMax Academy. Instructors at the nonprofit school established in 2009 are masters in a variety of disciplines and draw influences from around the globe.
Flamenco guitar, folk music of North India, Persian santoor, classical piano, Persian language, Peruvian dance, calligraphy, traditional storytelling and more represent some of the diverse course offerings available to youth and adults at ArtMax. ArtMax founder and executive director Hossein Salehi sees ArtMax as a place where artists can pass on their traditions to a new generation. This is based on his belief that the arts are essential to the human experience and help create cross-cultural communities. “I hope to provide an all-encompassing environment where those who want to pass on their craft can be paired with those who desire to learn it, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliations,” Salehi said.
“When a child has access to his or her identity and roots, that will build up confidence and strength in character.”
Salehi – a master of Persian music and teacher of santoor, daf, tombak, and voice – was born in Tehran, Iran and spent his formative years developing a passion for the music of his home country. And while many of ArtMax’s course offerings focus on Persian music and language, Salehi welcomes artists and musicians from any background to teach at ArtMax Academy. “I believe that the music of Iran is worthy of preservation but it is not the only music worth preserving,” Salehi said. “Living in the United States, commonly known as a ‘melting pot,’ I have come to realize that there are endless cultures, histories, and stories worth preserving.”
“ … I have come to realize that there are endless cultures, histories, and stories worth preserving.”
Students at ArtMax Academy come from all over the Metro area, including Beaverton, Hillsboro, Hood River, Portland, Vancouver, and beyond.
Some take lessons in Farsi language and calligraphy, some study Peruvian mask making and dance, while others learn Western-style guitar or saxophone. But no matter where his students come from and no matter their background, Salehi wants them to have access to art from around the world. Salehi, who immigrated with his family to the United States in 1987, understands the importance of knowing your heritage.
“When a child has access to his or her identify and roots, that will build up confidence and strength in character,” he said. Since he’s been in Oregon, he’s trained more than 1,000 students. What started as just a few lessons from his home turned into large annual recitals and local performances. Much to his delight, several of his former students have gone on to teach music, language, and art.
“I appreciate them, the youth, who care about keeping this culture alive,” he said.
Salehi, 68, has been showered with awards and recognition during his artistic career. He was recognized as a master artist by the Oregon Folklife Network and Oregon Historical Society. He created the Music of Persia course jointly with his son, Bobak, and taught at Portland State University. Salehi has also been featured on Oregon Art Beat. Furthermore, he created a Persian music soundtrack for “The Arabian Nights” show at the Oregon Children’s Theatre in partnership with his son, Bobak. ArtMax Academy is located at 4360 SW 110th Ave. Suite D, Beaverton, OR 97005. You can learn more on the website: www.artmax.org.