Central Coast Wine Classic Sustaining and Commemorative Artists

The Central Coast Wine Classic not only benefits non-profits in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties whose mission is to sustain the healing, studio or performing arts, it is in itself also an embodiment of the varied expressions of art. The following extremely creative individuals are our Sustaining and Commemorative Artists, whose works are presented for your edification at the Wine Classic Auction.

The Artists are sometimes Paired with Extraordinary Vintners to Share Their Art in a Unique Manner. Art Works Are Etched & Hand-Painted on a Salmanazar, a Nine Liter Bottle Holding an Entire Case of a Unique Wine Created by Individual Vintners or Pairs of Vintners. The Art Works are auctioned, and the Salmanazars are also Auctioned, as well as Three Magnums and Six 750ml Bottles containing the related wine, and the Bottles will have the Central Coast Wine Classic Logo and the Blend Particulars Etched & Hand-Painted them. In the Auction Lot Section of your catalog, you will find Images of Our Artists’ Art Works.

James-Paul Brown

Carpinteria, California

James-Paul BrownIt is impossible to be in the presence of our friend, James-Paul Brown, without absorbing his good energy and enthusiasm. James-Paul projects a positivism that is positively contagious. His thoughtfulness and generosity in creating special art works for Honorees and for his annual Commemorative Art Auction Lot are remarkable.

Michael Zakian, Director of the Frederick Weismann Museum of Art, describes James in this manner. “James-Paul is a sensitive and caring recorder of intimate sights and events. His paintings are lyrical. As in lyric poetry, the poetry, the art results from a rapid outpouring of intense personal feeling. Intuition and spontaneity rule.”

A Neo-Impressionist artist, James-Paul melds the broad brushwork and vibrant colors of Van Gogh with the ethereal strokes and pastel shades of Monet to produce enchanting, passionate masterpieces. A renowned painter, radio entrepreneur, wine aficionado and marathon runner, his life resembles a colorful palette, capturing the beauty and adventure of the human spirit. His broad range of subjects includes Hollywood celebrities, famed athletes and world leaders, as well as favorite cities, landscapes and vineyards.

Although James Paul first discovered his artistic talents at the age of eight after taking lessons from a neighborhood artist in Indiana, it was not until the 1970’s that his treasured hobby would become a passion. Living at the time in Malibu, California, and painting as a means of escape from an unpleasant conclusion to his marriage, he began to discover a new perspective on life and experience a personal renaissance. As a result, his artwork evolved in to the impressionist style for which he is now revered. In 1980, living in Venice, California, his first art exhibit at Venice’s renowned West Beach Cafe was a sell-out. From that point, his art career took off, leading to relationships with New York’s Balanchine Ballet, the Los Angeles Ballet, and Russian companies, the Bolshoi Ballet and the Kirov Opera.

In 1982, CBS Sports hired James to capture the World Games in Canada and the 1983 Pan American Games Venezuela, while NBC sent him to England to paint the 1985 Wimbledon Games. His love for sports has resulted in paintings and sculptures for the ‘84 and ‘96 Olympics and the Americas Cup. Last year, he journeyed Monte Carlo, where he was the official artist for the Monaco Grand Prix. Most recently, he was commissioned to paint his impressions of the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, and the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, as well as by European Television to paint the portrait of Nelson Mandela.

James was also commissioned to paint the Inaugural event portraits of Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Many of his subjects are selected based on their talents and personal achievements, with portraits including James Dean, Alex Trebek, Mark McGuire, Carl Lewis, Julia Child, David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe and Thelonius Monk, to name but a few, as well as an exquisitely poignant portrait of President Barack Obama.

Today, James-Paul’s art work continues to reach new levels of inspiration and admiration. As a bon vivant and wine aficionado, his passion has led him to create wine labels, first for other vineyards and now for his own wine, Artiste, which is now seen in such notable restaurants as Café des Artistes in New York and Bouchon in Santa Barbara.

James has created many wine labels over the years, and his relationship with Sunstone and Artiste in the Santa Ynez Valley is his most substantive, as he is now creating labels for the new Artiste wine, Juliet, his magical wife, with whom he lives and of whom he often paints, in Carpinteria.

James’ art appears in many private collections in the United States and abroad, including those of Clint Eastwood, Robert Altman, Joan Kroc, Mrs. Anwar Sadat, Elton John and Hank Aaron.

For many years, James-Paul has donated works to charitable causes, such as the Children’s Hospital and Cedars Sinai Hospital in New York, the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, and of course the Central Coast Wine Classic.

The Central Coast Wine Classic is honored that such a wondrously accomplished artist as James-Paul Brown would devote his time, energy and artistic talent to enhance our event with his commemorative art which continues to provide the exhilaratingly colorful artistic palette for our registration brochure. In addition we are deeply thankful to James for his endlessly enthusiastic proselytizing of the Wine Classic that has brought us substantive donations and bidders over the years and continues to do so.

For more information on James-Paul Brown and his art, please see www.jamespaulbrown.com.

Robert Burridge

Arroyo Grande, California

Robert BurridgeRobert Burridge embodies the Central Coast symbiosis of “laid back” and “very energetic.” He is an exciting and lively artist who leads an exciting and lively career with an impressive resume of credits to his name, and the Central Coast Wine Classic is fortunate and proud to hold Bob as one of its Sustaining Artists.

Bob is the first artist featured on Starbuck’s Commuter Mugs; he was selected as the Official Artist for the 2001 Sausalito Art Festival, and as the Official Pearl Vodka Artist, and his “Three Cheers America” is featured on the hang tags of every bottle.

Named by the LA Times as one of California’s top ten artists, Robert is a winner of the prestigious Philadelphia Water Color Society Gold Medal, previously won by Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyeth and Pablo Picasso. His work even appears on a billboard in Santa Maria on US Highway 101, touting our local wine country. Hollywood has become another avenue for Bob; he has created 12 huge abstract paintings for the film “Dean Quixote,” and he is working on illustrating a book written by one of the directors of the TV show “Just Shoot Me.”

Burridge was honored as the 1st Place Award winner for his Abstract paintings at the prestigious “Affair in the Gardens,” in Beverly Hills, California. His poster design, “Party of the Arts” for the 2001 Sausalito Art Festival, was named the top poster of the year by Sunshine Artist Magazine. He is currently represented by the Vault Gallery in Cambria and also exhibits his work in Key West, Palm Desert and New Orleans.

Bob paints every day in his country barn studio located near Arroyo Grande and on California’s Central Coast along the beaches of San Luis Obispo County. His style explores and interprets “real life” in his own passionate, painterly voice. Burridge’s artwork has been praised as “happy, intriguing and powerful.” Art critics describe his work as “vibrant, beautiful, masterly done and just a little tweaked.” “His use of bold, rich color and adventurous texture, while complex, is uplifting and ‘Pop’.” His favorite subjects feature “the Good Life,” and include tropical vistas, coastal landscapes, impressionistic still lifes, and luscious fruits & vegetables. An art critic recently commented, “This man makes vegetables exciting! He is a very fine painter with a strong artistic voice.”

About his style of painting, Bob says “Art should be an uplifting experience and a celebration of all that’s wonderful about life and its quirkiness!”

Bob teaches a variety of painting workshops to professional and emerging painters throughout the United States, Mexico, Bahamas, Cuba and France. His workshops have historically changed artists’ lives forever. Daily, he receives letters and emails from artists who have attended his classes and whose careers have taken off in new and productive directions.

In a great peer tribute to his expertise, Bob has been selected to jury new emerging painters as well as professional painters into national and international competitions. They include the following, among many others:

  • Aqueous USA
  • Kentucky Watercolor Society, Louisville, Kentucky
  • International Society of Acrylic Painters, Annual International Exhibit, Seattle, Washington
  • National Plein Air Festival, sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Art Center, San Luis Obispo, California
  • Santa Barbara Artwalk, Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, California
  • Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, California Society of Watercolor Artists
  • International Exhibition, Fort Worth, Texas Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild
  • Annual Exhibition, Tucson, Arizona
  • Watercolor Society of Oregon
  • Convention and Annual Exhibition
  • Western Federation of Watercolor Societies
  • Annual Exhibit, San Diego, California

Robert Burridge is also an energetic, passionate speaker and motivator for anyone who wants to be a winner. Using real-life examples and his famous tell-it-like-it-is style, attendees proclaim a renewed vigor and a clearer sense of purpose in their artistic lives.

On a local level, he also volunteers his time teaching art to school children with learning challenges. And, at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, Burridge paints with and creatively supports terminally ill children whose artwork now hangs in galleries.

Bob has written and published two artist books: Loosen Up Studio Workbook and Art Marketing: The Business of Selling Your Art. He produced and starred in eleven teaching videos and DVDs. His wife, career manager and best friend, Kate, co-produced all of the above. He produces a monthly newsletter - the ArtsyFartsy News and has also written features for various magazines, periodicals and newsletters. This year’s June issue of The Artist’s Magazine did a special feature on Bob and his paintings, titled “On The Move.”

We are so very pleased that Bob would continue to bring his wondrous energy and talent to our proceedings and favor us with an exhilarating commemorative painting on a wine barrel from Au Bon Climat, a work so pertinent to the Wine Classic aura and energy. Thank you, Bob, for all that you do for all of us!

Robert Burridge’s paintings are sold in galleries nationwide and currently hang in universities, embassies, museums, corporate spaces, professional offices, public places and private collections. For more information or to contact Robert directly, call (805) 489-9649 or view his website, www. robertburridge.com.

Carissa Chappellet

Avila Beach, Big Sur & St. Helena, California

Carissa ChappelletCarissa Chappellet could be termed an “Artist of Life,” as her interests are broad and pervasive, and she explores them with talent, focus and dedication. Her parents, Donn and Molly Chappellet, founders of Chappellet Winery, have long been aficionados of the arts, and their pervasive interest in the subject has certainly been transferred to their children. Molly has become famous in the Napa Valley as a person who manifests art forms of every sort, from gardening to photography. Carissa followed Molly’s interest in photography; she has documented two trips around the world and is rarely ever seen without a camera or two. In 1987 Carissa graduated from Monterey College of Law, went on to pass the bar and practiced civil litigation in Monterey. An interest in the Chinese Language and culture led her to spend a semester in Shanghai teaching English and learning Chinese with an eye towards a career in international law.

Called upon from time to time to assist in the promotions of the family wines, Carissa discovered her interest in traveling, photography and the culinary arts all combined nicely with work in the marketing side of the wine business. With encouragement from her brothers she put aside the practice of law and joined them in running the business, where she became Chappellet’s Director of Legal Affairs, at the same time as she is the equivalent of the winery’s Ambassador-at-Large.

Obviously a woman of many talents, Carissa published her first book in 1997, The Romance of California Vineyards, a visual tour of the wine country with breathtaking photographs by Daniel D’Agostini. She recently published her second work, The Dragons of Pritchard Hill, which chronicles the fantasy of the geologic, physical and metaphysical history of Pritchard Hill above St. Helena and Rutherford, the location on which Chappellet Winery sits. Her compellingly interesting and entertaining dragon paintings now adorn Chappellet Winery Malbec bottlings, adding fine art to fine wine. The Chappellet Dragon Bottle Malbecs have become so popular that they now sell out in advance of being released to the public. Someday, if she is not too busy with other projects, she may even recount her 15,000 mile millennium adventure on the Odyssey 2000 bicycle trip around the world. During that adventure she cycled in over forty countries. Her travel schedule in 2013 was truly incredible and included a South African Safari, a cruise to Komodo and Bali and an AMA Waterways cruise that includes visits to Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Paris. For 2014 it’s the Amazon and Machu Picchu and an AMA cruise from Madrid to Lisbon!

Carissa makes her home with Archie McLaren in Big Sur, Avila Beach, and St. Helena, California, spending most of her time in Big Sur, where she has a deep nature oriented as well as spiritual connection. When not on the computer or phone, she paints, writes, gardens, bikes and cooks. A skilled photographer, painter and musician, Carissa not only carries her camera, but also her paints, banjo and mandolin with her everywhere. In fact, it is simply amazing that, while in the midst of all of her various projects, she still finds time to practice the banjo and the mandolin. A true Renaissance woman she’s also a licensed hypnotherapist and certified massage therapist.

Information regarding Carissa may be found at www.chappellet.com.

Gary Conway

Paso Robles, California

Gary ConwayGary Conway is truly a Renaissance Man (That word keeps manifesting with respect to our Commemorative Artists!) in every sense of the word. He has graciously and generously brought his creative energy to the Wine Classic for many years, offering Auction lots that included his fine wine and his breathtaking art, and he has participated in a number of Wine Classic Symposia, as well as hosting a Vineyard Symposium on his property at Carmody-McKnight and has been a well-deserved Wine Classic Honoree.

Gary was born Gareth Monello Carmody in Boston, Mass. The family moved to Los Angeles around 1950. From an early age, Gary showed great potential as an artist. During his teens at Los Angeles High School, he was able to take time off to attend the Otis Art Institute on a regular basis. He studied art and painting for eight years. He moved on to the University of California in Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.) to continue his art studies, but dissatisfied with the course, he went to earn a degree in Theatre Arts in 1958.

Whilst at U.C.L.A. Gary appeared in some university stage productions, including ‘Volpone’ in which he played Leone. During the production, Gary met his wife to be, Marion McKnight, who was crowned “Miss America” in 1957. They married in 1958. They have two children, Kathleen born in the early sixties, and Gareth who was born later around the time ‘Land of the Giants,’ starring Gary, was made.

After graduating, Gary enlisted in the U.S. Army, and had an opportunity to try his hand at radio broadcasting when he was assigned a job as radio announcer. Whilst stationed at Fort Ord in California, Gary was invited to attend a screen test at Warner Brothers. Straight after he was discharged from the Army, Gary attended the screen test for a series ‘The Alaskans’. He didn’t get the part but was signed to a contract with Warners, under which he guested in popular shows such as ‘77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘Hawaiian Eye’.

His career started to take off after he left Warner Brothers. He had a string of guest roles, and then in 1962 won the role of Tyler Duane in the western ‘The Young Guns of Texas’, about a group searching for gold. This film was particularly known for the fact that it brought together the children of a number of well known actors including Robert Mitchum’s son James Mitchum.

Soon after, Gary was signed up for Four Star’s ‘Burkes Law’, with Gene Barry, in which he played a young police detective Tim Tilson. Gary stayed on for sixty six episodes, and he became a household name. Before being cast in ‘Land of the Giants’, Gary had a few more guest roles in shows like Daniel Boone, and a pilot feature called ‘Attack’ that never got off the ground.

It was ‘Land of the Giants’ which gave Gary his first leading role. The role of Steve Burton was an acting challenge for Gary. Can you imagine how difficult it is to spend half your time speaking to the ceiling, whilst pretending that you are talking to a giant, which would be added later with advanced optical techniques.

Gary is not only a talented actor. He is also a skilled architect and builder. He has designed many fine homes, homes and vineyards in California. Gary was also a pioneer in the music cassette industry, co founding the National Cinema Systems company to specialize in producing and distributing cassette tapes. He also acted as consultant in the field.

In 1987, he returned to cinema with a vengeance in American Ninja II: The Confrontation, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Gary went on to write the screenplay for ‘American Ninja III: Blood Hunt’, but he did not appear in it. Gary has become more well-known as a screen writer, not only writing for the Cannon’s ‘American Ninja’ films, but also for other major features such as Sylvestor Stallone’s ‘Over the Top’. In a 1990’s interview with Starlog (#151) it is suggested that the idea was originally conceived as a vehicle for himself.

In 1987, Gary together with friend and partner Dean Zanetos formed a production company, and they produced a pilot for a proposed series called ‘Vineyards and Vintages’. Marion Conway was spokesperson for the series, and it aimed to savour some of the top vineyards worldwide.

Gary and Marion have developed one of the premier vineyards in California, in what was a 320 acre cattle ranch near Paso Robles. The Carmody-McKnight property is widely considered to be one of the most profoundly special terroirs on the central Coast, and the wines from Greg Cropper, Carmody McKnight’s winemaker, certainly prove it.

Gary’s first book published is titled ‘Art of the Vineyard’ and contains many of his colour paintings, and has also produced a moving film called ‘A Woman’s Story’.

In 2013, a momentous occasion in Beijing, China at Beijing University, featured and honored Gary, and on the first night of one outstanding event after another, day after day, Gary Conway addressed several hundred captains of Chinese industry in the number one program in the number one business school and University in China and one of the most outstanding in the world. The evening was the University’s grand celebration event and dinner as the school year begins. The University President and principals, as well as successful business CEOs attended. Gary delivered the evening’s speech, and videos and photos of his renowned vineyard and wine, his multi-faceted life, his films and TV series, especially “Land of the Giants,” were presented on the “Big Screen.” Land of the Giants was rousingly cheered, as it was the most popular American TV series in China. Carmody-McKnight wine was also very enthusiastically received, as it is now available in China and was served at this special dinner. No other wine has been so honored at this University.

All of the aforementioned accomplishments notwithstanding, Gary has never stopped creating moving, often breathtaking paintings, with colors that lift from the canvas to mesmerize you with energetically artistic depictions of animal life or wondrously colorful landscapes.

We rousingly cheer internationally recognized Renaissance Man, Gary Conway, for his continuing gracious and generous offerings of his remarkable art and his superb wine!

For more information, please visit www.carmodymcknight.com.

Colleen Gnos

Avila Beach, California

Colleen GnosWe are extremely pleased to re-introduce to you for for her second consecutive year as an Central Coast Wine Classic Artist, one of the more remarkable artistic talents on the Central Coast, and she is remarkable for a number of reasons, including not only artistic talent but also athletic ability, beautiful energy and gracious interaction with all the people she encounters. AND she lives and creates right here in Avila Beach! Wine Classic Chairman is now the proud owner of Colleen’s remarkable hand-painted surfboard that was her offering for the 2013 Auction, and it hangs in the flat in which he first lived in his home in Avila Beach, a truly special embellishment to a room that already hosts such renowned artists as David Kreitzer and Yuroz.

Avila Beach artist Colleen Gnos possesses a deep connection to the ocean. An avid surfer, her heart was captured by the sea from childhood. This connection dates back many generations to the sea captains from the Azores, and to her Portuguese grandfather who arrived in Avila Beach in the 1920’s, to dive for Abalone, train navy divers, and operate tug boats.

Having painted for over 20 years, Colleen is an accomplished fine artist, muralist and more recently, sculptor. Her technique is one that combines tonal painting and glazing, painting from darkness to light. Working with a limited pallet, her sirens and surfers emerge from the darkness. She works with light by using a technique called “optical mixing,” where she builds up the surface with many single transparent glazes so the color is mixed optically. It makes skin tones resonate and gives her waves the clarity of stained glass. For Colleen, the powerful female entities she creates represent the freedom of being able to abandon life’s responsibilities and “swim away,” a feeling one can get after a short time in the ocean. With paint, she communicates her desire to repeatedly return to the sea, uniting the conscious (human torso) with the subconscious (mermaid’s tail).

For the past five years, she has been collaborating with surfboard shapers, painting surfboards and incorporating techniques such as woodgraining and gold leafing that she learned in Italy to communicate her vision of heart-heavy, love-struck and devious sirens.

Colleen has been dedicated to art from an early age: she taught herself to paint with acrylics by the age of twelve, and later with oils at fourteen years of age. As a teenager, she won awards for her art, earning acceptance into the California State Summer School for the Arts. When she turned eighteen, she moved to Santa Cruz. An undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, she studied painting and drawing. However, it did not provide the strict training she was seeking, and therefore, she moved to Florence, Italy for her formal training. For a full year, she attended L’Accademia di Belle Arti, the art school founded by Michelangelo, where she studied figure drawing/painting, etching and sculpture.

Right out of college, Colleen began working as a theatrical backdrop artist. It was such a thrill to paint large- scale, that she began painting commissioned murals for hotels, restaurants and private homes in Hawaii, California and Texas. She was also asked to paint sets for major concerts and conventions and to paint surfboards for renowned surfboard shapers. Her favorite commission was a 3,000 square foot mural in a Catholic church that consisted of 3 altars and 78 columns of painted marble, reminiscent of the churches in Italy. Her most recent mural commission was last summer, a 32 x 46' mural painted off Highway 5 in Woodland, California, where she spent over a month painting a tribute to agriculture, elevated 60 feet in the air.

Colleen has dedicated herself to living as a hard-working artist, mother and surfer on the Central Coast. She has shown her work in Italy, Hawaii and California and has been featured in Central Coast Magazine, Surfer Girl Magazine and Surf Life for Women.

What a wholly remarkable person on every level is this gracious and talented lady! Colleen, thank you for having become a member of the Central Coast Wine Classic Family of Artists and for returning to thrill us with your art again this year. It is an honor and pleasure to re-introduce you to our patrons.

For more information, visit the Colleen Gnos website at www.colleengnos.com.

Candice Norcross

Candice Norcross Design Studio, Nipomo, California

Candice NorcrossThe Central Coast Wine Classic’s array of extraordinary artist bottles is a manifestation of Candice Norcross’s importance to our event! Candice Norcross of Northern Cross Design Studios in Nipomo has adorned a myriad of Wine Classic Commemorative bottles and the former Classic Cuvées bottles, as well as the donations of a substantial number of Central Coast wineries, with her amazing etching and hand-painting.

As a designer and artist Candice has combined over twenty-five years of graphic, commercial and textile art into a glass concept unlike any artist that you may have encountered. With a philosophy that anything can be reproduced on glass, she strives to recreate wine labels, or any art bottle concept, with meticulous attention to every detail. Candice’s specialty has become hand-painted reproductions of original and master artwork. Each one of her works is individually handmade, hand-painted, signed and numbered, further adding to the special nature of her creations.

Her winery clients have included: Adelaida, Arcadian, Artiste, Atlas Peak, Au Bon Climat, Baileyana, Beckmen, Brophy-Clark, Byron, Calzada Ridge, Cambria, Clos Mimi, Cold Heaven, Costa de Oro, Curtis, Domaine Alfred, Eberle, Edna Valley Vineyard, Ella, Daniel Roland Gehrs, Dark Star, Champagne Deutz, Diamond Creek, Dover Canyon, Duckhorn, Eberle, Fiddlehead, Firestone, Grey wolf, Hartley-Ostini, IO, Kynsi, Laetitia, Lane Tanner, Laverne, Lindemann’s, Martin-Weyrich, Meridian, Midnight Cellars, Mumm Napa Valley, Pacific Ridge, Peachy Canyon, Presidio, Qupé, Ross di Paso, Rusack, Saucelito Canyon, Schramsberg, Seven Peaks, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Stephen Ross, Sunstone, Tablas Creek, Talley, The Vineyards at Royal Oaks, Tobin James, Tolosa, Villicana, Wedell, White Hawk, Wild Horse, Windemere, Windward, Wolff Vineyards, Zaca Mesa and many others.

Her commissioned works are created from an equally impressive list of clients, including the American Institute of Wine & Food, the San Luis Obispo Vintners & Growers Association, The San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, The High Museum of Atlanta, the Napa Valley Wine Auction, the Morro Bay Harbor Festival and the Central Coast Wine Classic, to name but a few, as well as countless private collectors and individuals seeking art work for special occasions. Celebrity patrons of her work include Lance Armstrong, Madonna, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker, Pope John Paul II and Steve Wynn.

Some of those special occasions have come forth from the movie industry, where Candice has created bottle art work representing Sideways, the Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

Candice’s etched design work on art glass has been exhibited in the Boston Museum of Fine Art and on the Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House.

Candice is a comprehensively lovely individual, a special artist who we are proud to enjoy continually as a member of the Central Coast Wine Classic family. She was honored by the Central Coast Wine Classic for her continuing support and tireless efforts to assure the aesthetic and financial success of the event. For our 2014 Auction, Candice will be creating the Bottle Art for the Commemorative Cuvées Salmanazars and the Commemorative Magnums, and will be presenting an auction lot that includes an original art work created by her. You will see her remarkable work on other Auction lot bottles as well. Thank you so much, Candice, for all that you do for us!

For more information, please visit Candice’s website: www.candicenorcross.com.


Camarillo, California

YurozOn March 30, 1853 the art world would change forever with the birth of Vincent Van Gogh.

On March 30, 1956 the art world would change again with the birth of Yuri (YUROZ) Gevorgian.

“Being an artist is as important as being a lawyer or an engineer, because it fills your soul; it fills your spirit. You can have a healthy body, but if your soul is not fed, you will never be complete. If you appreciate what is around you; if you see beauty and love art, then you have a strong connection to life. You are never going to kill someone; you are going to let other people appreciate their lives as well. Art is very important; it breeds appreciation. Art is an extension of life.” - Yuroz

The story of Yuroz is as compelling as his art. Yuroz is literally and figuratively the artist of the people. Lovers, musicians, poets, athletes, the homeless and refugees fill his canvases, drawing forth the spectrum of emotions and moods that reside deep in the human soul. Yuroz’s amazing ability to bring this soulful human quality to fruition through his art stems from his own life experiences.

A child prodigy born in Soviet Armenia in 1956, Yuroz was only ten years old when he entered the renowned Akop Kodjoyan School of Art in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

After graduating with honors, Yuroz gathered up his incredible talents and entered the Yerevan University of Art and Architecture, where, at the age of twenty, he was considered one of the worst art students in the history of the school. After departing the school and becoming a successful architect, for seven years he attempted to escape communist held Eastern Europe to come to the freedom of the United States. Those seven years imbued him with a compassion and understanding for all refugees seeking new homes and fresh beginnings.

Finally, upon arriving in America and after struggling for years to achieve and enjoy the freedom America offered, at the age of thirty, he found himself homeless in the land of opportunity. Even though he had no home, hope was his constant companion, and Yuroz continued to create art with the supplies of the streets. Napkins and cardboard were conjured into canvas, and discarded pens were transformed into paintbrushes. He became the focus of a feature story in the Los Angeles Times whose purpose was to assist the homeless.

Yuroz’s Los Angeles street friends were portraits filling the gallery of his mind with the beauty and simplicity of life. Like the refugees who would later populate his United Nations mural, Yuroz was able to capture the survivor mentality of his homeless brethren when they made their way onto canvas, a reflection of his own burning desire to create art in his new home. With the success of this early “Hollywood Boulevard” series, Yuroz was walking his dream path.

At the age of 40 he was recognized as a Living Master with several museum shows under his belt. The Coral Springs Art Museum in Florida, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Hot Springs Arkansas, The Fuller Arts Museum in Brockton, Mass, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, The Anchorage Art Museum, The Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, and others.

Since that time, Yuroz’ art has reached new heights and continues to climb. But even with all of his growth and success as an artist, Yuroz has never lost sight of his own humble beginnings, and he has donated the proceeds from a variety of originals and limited editions to numerous causes and foundations. Charities around the globe have thanked him for his countless donations that have raised money and awareness for their causes. In 1995 he created “The Harlequin’s Gift” for Comic Relief, an organization that alerts audiences to the growing American homeless population. Also, 2001 marked the fourth consecutive year that Yuroz will be the official artist for the Suzuki Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, and he has on several occasions created an original oil for sale at auction to benefit the Leukemia Society of America, for whom he has personally raised over a million dollars with his artistic contributions.

At the age of fifty, in January 2000 Yuroz was chosen by the United Nations to be the official artist for their 50th anniversary stamp honoring refugees worldwide. The stamp has been released in over 150 countries. In November his stunning five-panel mural was unveiled at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Through this mural we can see the grand panorama of Yuroz’ vision, where individual and racial differences slide away, and the courage of refugees and humanity as a whole is brought to the surface. His magnificent testament to human courage will ultimately be sent to the General Assembly Building in Geneva, Switzerland, to be installed permanently as a part of their collection.

In 2001, Yuroz met with the Pope about a ceiling painting project for an Armenian Church in Glendale, California, a concept which was given the Pope’s blessing.

The National Ad Council chose him out of millions of people in the United States for their Freedom campaign which ran from September 11, 2005 until September 11, 2006.

In the summer of 2008, Yuroz met with Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino of the Vatican regarding the world tour of the Human Rights Mural and his vision for raising awareness around the world with this project, and as a result, This past year, the Vatican commissioned Yuroz to create a painting to commemorate the life and work of Saint Arcangelo Tadini.

At the Botticcino Sera Church on November 8, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI met with Yuroz and blessed the painting, entitled “Compassion of Light.” It will permanently hang in the Vatican among the Renaissance masters. Congratulations to our dear friend for such a remarkable honor.

Even with such momentous events in his life, Yuroz never forgets the small joys of sounding our feelings and moods through his art. A producer who was once in the studio to interview Yuroz for a national commercial experienced his signature “art massage,” which involves drawing on the clothing people are wearing. When Yuroz finished his “massage,” the producer was left speechless by the finished product on the back of her T-shirt. Loss of speech is a common reaction to Yuroz’ art. We are stunned by the human quality captured in such a simple way, and words cannot express the emotions Yuroz stirs in our souls.

Yuroz projects a wondrous energy, and those who are so fortunate as to be in his presence, always leave with at least a brush stroke or more of that good energy.

How exceedingly fortunate we are to have such a special and wonderful human being and artist as a substantive part of our Wine Classic aesthetic presentations, including the art on the cover of the Wine Classic Auction Catalog. This is Yuri’s thirteenth year presenting his extraordinary art at the Central Coast Wine Classic. He has become a Sustaining Artist in every sense of the term. We hope that the relationship will always continue! We know that you will enjoy the amazing energy of our artist friend, as well as his spontaneous creativity.

For more information, please visit Yuroz’s website: yurozart.com