FOOD FOR THOUGHT
(artist’s statement: “Vegetable Series”)
This series of work is the result of my fascination with the whimsical qualities of vegetable forms. I am not interested in merely creating the exact likeness of vegetables, but rather in appropriating their unique shapes and qualities as a springboard for creating functional art objects.
The idea is not new. Cave men found gourd forms useful for containing food and drink. And why not, when these shapes are Nature’s own way of providing containers for seed and food to perpetuate itself.
The particular vegetables used in the series were found by haunting local grocery stores, wholesale markets, and various gardens, patches, and fields. Each shape was chosen for its unique whimsical quality and presence. Original molds were made from the actual vegetables and the resulting shapes used to produce the individual pieces.
I feel that the challenge of the Artist is to take the common and mundane and, thru creative vision and process, breath new life into them. I hope that exposure to this work prompts a more sensitive look at the world around us. Such things as vegetables are not just for food, but food for thought, use, and enjoyment.
Like most people of Armenian ancestry, George Alemshah has lived an international life. Born in Heliopolis, Egypt in 1939, George immigrated to Beirut, Lebanon as a teenager. There he met his wife of more than 30 years, Sonia. With the whisperings of an eminent war in the air, the Alemshah family left for North America. After a seven year stop over in Canada, George, Sonia and their two young sons finally settled in sunny southern California where George has worked as a successful Interior Designer and Artist.
George’s love for painting was a joy born out of necessity. Having lost his own father as a small boy, his first paintings were a way to remember his father and his childhood. A bit disjointed, sometimes shattered; just like his journey through life – George’s paintings can be described as looking through the eye of a prism. His style (often described as Cubic Impressionism) was one he perfected in Beirut. George has studied with Eugene Kassassinoff, the former artist to the Egyptian Royal Family.
George attained a high degree of success with permanent exhibitions around Lebanon and much of the Middle East. But George’s paintings, like his life, have always changed and evolved. His cubist beginnings have graduated into many forms of abstract expressionism. No longer content with only Egyptian influences, George has done a series of African Animals, abstract expressionism and traditional Armenian scences. He has also continued to paint his “bon vivant” series. These paintings depict George’s philosophy of life; eat, drink and be merry.
Representative of the times in his life, George has paintings in private collections around the world. In those paintings are chronicled: Exotic places, childhood memories, deep seated fears and shattered dreams but most of all love for his family, life and hope for tomorrow.
A few words from George Alemshah
Painting is my answer to Life. It’s the way I deal with the ups, downs, ins and outs of my existence. Therefore, my paintings are often a very good reflection of my inner self.
I am an Armenian born in Egypt. My life has taken me to many places including Beirut, Lebanon and Toronto, Canada. I have been a Californian since 1975. I started painting in the early 1960’s and have been heavily influenced by the many different places, cultures and traditions I have been witness to.
The Master Painters who have had the most influence on my aesthetics are George Rouault, Bernard Buffet, Gaugin, Van Gogh and Picasso.
My Painting Series
My Bon Vivant series are still life paintings. I paint these works about the things that bring joy to ones life: flowers, food and wine.
My Egyptian series are my interpretation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Growing up in Egypt left a strong impression on me and these paintings are my tribute to that place and my childhood.
My African series are scenes inspired by the wildlife and foliage native to the continent of Africa.
My Abstract series are my impressionist paintings. These paintings are the most direct expression of my feelings and artistic aesthetics.
My educational background includes a Master of Fine Arts degree from California State University at Fullerton (Art Alliance Award), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York (Graduate Study Award). I taught art to university level students at Orange Coast College (CA Grant for Instructional Improvement) and Cal State University at Fullerton, and to elementary students at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar (CAEA Exemplary Art Educator Award).
The following museums have exhibited my work: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Sales and Rental Gallery), San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (Award), Orange County Museum of Art, Laguna Art Museum, San Bernardino County Museum.
These galleries have exhibited my work: Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, Cypress College Gallery, Brea Cultural Center, Ariel Gallery in New York City (Award), Fullerton Museum Center, Palos Verdes Art Center, Chapman University Gallery, Irvine Fine Arts Center, Huntington Beach Art Center, LA Harbor College Gallery, Grand Central Art Center, Spezzano Gallery in Long Beach, Santa Ana College Gallery (Award), Pomona Gallery 57 Underground, 2nd CC Gallery in Long Beach, CA, Aliso Viejo Library Retrospective in Southern California, Coastline College Invitational, Huntington Beach, CA., Coastline Gallery in Newport Beach, CA.
I have been selected for Public Art Projects, including Caltrans Freeway Art Panel Project, Orange County Transit District Bus Mural, Irvine Fine Arts Center Magnetic Mural ,KOCE Butterfly Initiative Fundraiser Project at Rogers Gardens, CSU Fullerton Medical Center “Art4Health” Project (Award), Pasadena Park Playground Design.
For the City of Irvine, I was chosen to serve as Artist-in-Residence at the Storefront Studio Gallery in the University of California, Irvine Marketplace for three months.
The outdoor Art Festivals that I have been in are: Beverly Hills Art Faire, La Quinta Art Faire, Long Beach Museum of Art Faire, the Costa Mesa Artistic License Faire, and the San Diego Talmadge Art Faire.
Through the Arts O.C. (California Art Council), my husband and I funded an Artist-in-Residence Program for O.C. public elementary schools, bringing professional artists into classrooms for five years. Also, I currently serve on the Board of Directors for ART4KIDS, INC., a non-profit foundation that reaches out to children in distress by making art supplies available to them. I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer art teacher at the Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia, South America.
My professional memberships include: Orange County Visual Artists (past-president), Southern California Artists (past president and current Exhibitions co-chair), California Art Educators Association, and SoCalpapa (plein aire painters group) .