GLENDALE â Roslin Art Gallery will present the unveiling of “The Divorce” by Jirayr Zorthian, confined to a shipping crate since 1954, along with other selected works on display July 14-28.
“Divorce” was created by Los Angeles-area artist Jirayr Zorthian in 1954 in response to the difficult divorce process he went through with his wife, Betty Williams, from a prominent New York family. -OrlÃ©ans.
The massive (77 “x 101”), emotionally charged piece expresses her rage at Betty, portrayed as under the control of her monster money-eating mother, with her three children in chains. Although the subject matter is dark, the piece is an explosion of color, incorporating photographs, text, jewelry, and animal hair. The divorce caused a stir, as it was the first time in California history that a man had received child support from his ex-wife. The painting was so controversial that it was decided that Jirayr was not free to show it while they were alive for the sake of the family. The painting was sequestered in a wooden crate for 63 years. Jirayr Zorthian died in 2004 and Betty Williams in 2011. After all these decades, the coin will finally be unveiled.
The exhibit will open with the unveiling reception on Friday July 14 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will remain open until July 28. On Saturday, July 15, at 2 p.m., a panel discussing artwork and family history will be held with artist / daughter Seyburn Zorthian, former West Coast Director of the Archives of American Art / Smithsonian Institution Paul Karlstrom and artist / family friend Patricia Ferber, hosted by Pasadena community arts organizer Tom Coston.
JIRAYR ZORTHIAN was born in 1911 in the Armenian city of Kutahya in Turkey. His family managed to escape the Armenian Genocide and moved to the United States in 1922 to settle in New Haven, Connecticut. Jirayr, the older brother of three boys, eventually got a full college scholarship to the Yale School of Fine Arts. After graduating from Yale, he obtained a scholarship to study abroad and traveled through Europe and North Africa in the 1930s, studying art and architecture. He returned to participate in Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA projects for artists, becoming a muralist. His murals survive to this day in state capitals and post offices across the United States. During World War II, Jirayr was inducted into the United States Army where he produced propaganda posters and a 157-foot-long mural for the pentagon titled, The Phantasmagoria of Military Intelligence Training, considered his crowning achievement. Jirayr and Betty came to Los Angeles where they bought 27 acres in the Altadena foothills. Jirayr started out in his studio as a portrait painter and eventually moved his work outdoors to all areas of the property, building structures from materials discarded by builders and local municipalities, such as concrete. broken, river rock and telephone poles. Several years after his divorce from Betty, he married his second wife, Dabney, and they purchased an additional 21 acres under the upper ownership. Beyond his talent as an artist, Jirayr was intensely social and had a large and diverse circle of friends. He especially cherished his friendship with physicist Richard Feynman. The Zorthian Ranch was the site of many parties and other events, including jazz performances, retreats, and movie sets. For the last 15 years of his life, he hosted a Primavera party, the culmination of which was a skit in which he played the character of Zor-Bachus, surrounded by dancing naked “nymphs”.
The Roslin Art Gallery is located at 415 E. Broadway, Glendale, CA. Free entry. The opening hours of the gallery are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.