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Solomon and son Kaveh stand in front of a rug designed by a Boston Renaissance school student

Picture Courtesy of The Patriot Ledger © 2003

 

Quincy Schools to Benefit From Rug Competition
The Patriot Ledger · Saturday/Sunday · April5-6, 2003

One wouldn't think an Oriental rug company and a school-to-work
program would make for a remarkable synergy, but Solomon Mojtabai and Arthur
Keough do.

The two have organized an art contest in which Quincy middle school students are competing to design the most dazzling Persian rug. The winning design will be selected by Mojtabai and other judges on May 15 and will be sent to Nepal to be made into a rug by Mojtabai's crafting associates.

The winning rug will be auctioned off or sold, with the proceeds going to
the Quincy schools.

Mojtabai, a 60-year-old Boston resident and owner of the newly opened
Solomon Collection and Fine Rugs on Hancock Street, said he got involved
with the program to try to "connect child to child."
Mojtabai's journey from the urban sprawl of Tabriz, Iran, to Hancock Street has been a long one.

He said rug merchants from all over the country and from as far as
neighboring Azerbaijan brought their rugs to the bazaars in the bustling
city of over a million people.

His grandparents had a small rug shop in Tabriz and his family was in the
textile business.

He left Iran in 1973 after finishing medical school and noted,
matter-of-factly, "It's changed."

After stops at postgraduate school in London and at Boston University, he
began practicing as a general and vascular surgeon.
But after 22 years, he said, he needed to retire and get a hobby.
He and his wife opened a small rug store on Newbury Street in Boston but
eventually outgrew the place and moved it to Stuart Street in the Theater District and renamed the business the Solomon Collection and Fine Rugs.

Mojtabai got the inspiration for the art design program just down the street from his Stuart Street store. He saw the children playing at the Renaissance Charter School and proposed the idea to the principal.
"Practically everyone wanted to get involved," he said about the first
contest. "I wanted them to transform their art to something that can be
useful. Instead of going to the mall, it makes them think."

Mojtabai decided to relocate again, this time to Quincy, but he didn't want the success of the first program to be lost in the move.

Enter Arthur Keough.

Keough is the executive director of the Quincy School Partnership. He said
the partnership teams schools and businesses in Quincy to try to "bring
students into the world of work."

The former Quincy College academic dean has resurrected and restructured what he called a "mundane situation" from one that had just one business partner when he took over in 1988 to one that now has more than 120.

"The Quincy business community has been one of the most open and generous I've ever come in contact with," said the 62-year-old Milton resident. Keough said companies like Stop & Shop, State Street Corp. and Massachusetts Blue Cross/Blue Shield are involved in the program.

"We want to introduce the youngsters into the world of work by exposing them to all sorts of things in the career field," he said.

Keough said the art contest is for students with a flair for art.

"We want to show that what they're conceptualizing on a piece of paper can be turned around and sold on the open market," he said.
He pointed to an adage that he said drives students into exploring their job future.

"If I choose a job I love, I'll never work a day in my life." ·

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