Exhibition Jirayr Zorthian / Richard Feynman: A Conversation in Art Opens at Armory Center for the Arts

PASADENA–Saturday, June 28, from 7 to 9 p.m., the exhibition “Jirayr Zorthian / Richard Feynman: A Conversation in Art” opens at the Armory Center for the Arts.

This show will be on view through August 31, and will document one of the most famous and unusual artist and scientist associations in the history of Southern California, that between artist and public personality Jirayr H. Zorthian and Caltech Nobel Laureate physicist Richard P. Feynman. Opening Saturday, September 20, 7 to 9 p.m. will be Craig Kauffman: A Drawing Retrospective”, over half a century of works on paper by one of the founders of contemporary art in Southern California in the 1950s. The Kauffman exhibition will be on view through November 16, 2008.

Both exhibitions are organized by Jay Belloli, Director of Gallery Programs at the Armory Center for the Arts. A color-illustrated catalogue will be published by the Armory in connection with each exhibition.

Jirayr H. Zorthian was a Yale University-trained artist who created respected paintings, murals, and drawings throughout his life. His career also included forty-seven years of constructing and designing buildings, including his unconventional ranch in the hills at the top of Altadena, California, as well as serving as an architecture and design consultant. Although he spent many of his years living in his residence on the edge of Los Angeles’ vibrant contemporary art world, his visual art was rarely shown. A true bohemian in a time when the approach to living an artist’s life was changing, he was much better known as a memorable personality rather than as an artist whose work had achieved national recognition.

Zorthian’s most important artistic influences may have been on the famous Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman of the California Institute of Technology. Feynman was extremely open to exploring new areas of inquiry beyond his world-famous expertise in science. Zorthian agreed to teach Feynman to draw, and Feynman agreed to teach Zorthian physics. The scientific instruction did not continue long, but Zorthian’s influences on Feynman led to the physicist’s twenty-five year involvement in art making. Much of Zorthian’s art was figurative and, as many artists, with an emphasis on drawing the human figure, particularly the beautiful and sometimes erotic female form. Feynman embraced the discipline and pleasures of figure drawing as well as the challenges of portraiture.

This exhibition will be the first significant survey of Jirayr Zorthian’s art; and the first extensive exhibition of Richard Feynman’s drawings in four decades. Significantly, this association occurred in Pasadena, a city historically known as a center of both science and the arts. In a new millennium marked by a growing involvement of artists in scientific inquiry, it is important to look back at an earlier example of the relationship between art and science ‘s one in which an artist influenced a scientist in the traditional media, discipline, and sensuality of the fine arts.

This exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance.

These two exhibitions will be on view in the Susan and John Caldwell Gallery at the Armory is at 145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, and will be open Tuesday ‘s Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Admission is free. The Armory is easily accessible from the Gold Line Memorial Park Station in Pasadena. For information about Armory exhibitions and events, the public may call 626.792.5101 x122. or visit the Armory website at www.armoryarts.org.

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