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article imageArtist paints with the passion within her, no art school required Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Jun 8, 2011 in Entertainment
San Francisco - This exhibit is Christina Vartanian’s first. She confided that she had never been to art school and other than a few lessons in six grade, she has never received any formal art training or instruction.
“I know that is hard to believe but I can verify that is true,” said Nora Elmonoufy, a long-time friend from college. Elmonoufy and Vartanian attended University of Texas. Both majored in science not art.
Art and commerce merged seamlessly as McGuire Real Estate hosted an art exhibit of Christina Vartanian’s work on June 2. Over 60 people attended the exhibit’s open house reception held at McGuire’s Bluxome Street office in the South of Market area of San Francisco that Thursday evening after 5 PM.
“Empty walls are what inspired this idea to have a series of exhibits,” said Alex Buehlmann, VP of Marketing & Business Development. Vartanian’s is the second one this year. “We would like to have one quarterly, giving artists the opportunity to show their work and an allowing McGuire the chance to connect with the community,” she said.
Vartanian’s display of work filled the main entrance of the Bluxome office which had once been a warehouse. The variety of styles of Vartanian’s work impressed many - among them Realtor Stasi Martin and sculptor Joel Barish. They discussed which paintings impressed them most as they nibbled on the abundant servings of appetizers like empanadas and chicken satay sticks served with an assortment of wines.
Sculptor Joel Barish and Vartanian talk about paints and use of materials they like  etc.
Sculptor Joel Barish and Vartanian talk about paints and use of materials they like, etc.
“I think Christina’s work is very interesting and varied,” said Barish. From sketches in pencil and charcoal to portraits in oils and then to colorful abstracts, Vartanian’s talent enhanced the work space area making full use of stark concrete walls.
Once a warehouse before the dot com boom of the 1990’s the building was converted into office and commercial space. The dot com boom transformed the South of Market Area. As real estate city-wide became more valuable boutique-market companies like McGuire expanded their outreach. In 2008 the longstanding family-owned McGuire which has been coordinating real estate transactions since 1919, merged with Urban Bay Properties, acquiring their offices on Bluxome Street.
With AT & T Park a prominent fixture only a few blocks away from Bluxome, the entire South of Market Area has become a magnet for business, tourism and nightlife. This makes for an ideal spot for a gallery space and Vartanian is thrilled.
Vartanian invited many friends, like Anne Symon and Elmonoufy who were eager to show their support. They are happy to see Vartanian make this important debut and artistic career venture.
Nora Elmonoufy  a long time friend from college and artist Christina Vartanian pose for a moment in ...
Nora Elmonoufy, a long time friend from college and artist Christina Vartanian pose for a moment in front of Vartanian's abstracts. Elmonoufy said that she could verify that Vartanian had no formal art school training. Both majored in science while at University of Texas.
Interestingly, Vartanian and Elmonoufy are attracted to art and medicine. Elmonoufy is a poet who is in medical school at Ross University in New Jersey. And, when not painting or sketching, Vartanian is a registered nurse at Seaton Medical Center in Daly City, which is about a 20 minute drive south of San Francisco.
“I became a nurse so I can earn money to be an artist,” said Vartanian. “Yet I find that as an artist I am inspired by my work as a nurse, often assisting with surgeries,” she said.
Vartanian conveyed that it is that connection to humanity through her work as a nurse that provides much of the inspiration for her variations of expression in her work.
Sketches on one wall displayed the naked human form. A stunning portrait of a Native American girl caught the eye of Barish who was immediately struck by the detail of facial expression.
Barish’s work has been shown all over the world from New York City to Japan. He was impressed with Vartanian’s work and was taken aback when he learned that this was her first show and that she had no formal training.
He noted that what seemed to be the most dominant in all the works on display were the half-dozen or more abstracts.
A sample of the variety of Vartanian s work was on display at McGuire Real Estate
A sample of the variety of Vartanian's work was on display at McGuire Real Estate
The unusual juxtapositions of lines and shapes in a human form and bold use of bright colors evoked a sense of cubism, like Picasso. “Yeah I guess, there is a little bit of that inspiration in there,” said Vartanian. “But I like to call it abstract art with emotion,” said Vartanian.
She explained, “It is everything, mostly expression, the feelings the mood. These are actually based upon particular moods, each one I have actually been in,” she said.
Barish asked why Vartanian had not used oils as much. “I like to paint with acrylics because they dry faster and when I am in my particular mood I want to get it on the canvas as quick as possible,” she said.
Vartanian admitted that painting with such emotion was exhausting but she finds it important. “Often I will take my paintings, especially these abstracts and set them up in front of me like large photographs from an album, it helps me to see where I have been emotionally,” Vartanian told Barish.
Tony Escobar a friend of Vartanian also verified that to his knowledge she has not had any formal training. Vartanian said that ever since she was small she always like to draw or paint. “This comes from a passion inside of me,” she said.
Escobar snapped photos and chatted with guests and noted that among the bold-color abstracts the painting entitled “Broken” was his favorite. Like many invited guests and colleagues, Escobar was struck by the intensity of the emotions in the abstracts.
“I enjoy using aesthetics and color to convey emotion,” said Vartanian. “People can be understood visually on so many levels that words become unnecessary,” she said.
Prices for Vartanian’s work start at $450 for her sketches and go up to $6,000 for the large colorful abstracts. Her work will be on display at McGuire Real Estate at 17 Bluxome Street, San Francisco from now until Sept. 16. For more information see posting at Facebook.
More about Christina Vartanian, Abstract art, Picasso, McGuire Real Estate, San Francisco
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