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explains in his heavy accent.
  At the age of six, Galust was told by his teacher that he would never be an artist. He stormed out of the schoolhouse and told his mother he was quitting school. "She's stupid. I'm already an artist," he recalls saying about his teacher.
   Despite his convictions, he returned to school and went on to study journalism, philosophy, aerospace engineering, and history. "But," he notes with an impish grin, "I remember nothing of those subjects. What I obtained, however, was a feeling about each subject and that gave me the ability to create art."
   While the Vietnam War did not directly affect the countries within the Caucasus area, the hippie movement had grabbed Galust and his friends' attention. He was so impressed by it that he decided to free his mind and his obligations to his country and travel the world. He bumped around from country to country within Europe taking in the art and creating his own before landing in Russia where he met his wife and began a family.
   When their son Greg was two years old, they realized he, too, was destined to be an artist. With three generations of well- known artists on Galust's side, this realization came as little surprise. At the age of seven, Greg began his formal art education at Moscow Art School where he won a number of awards for his work as a painter.
    At age 19, Greg began working as an animator for films that have also received numerous awards. Despite his flourishing career in Russia, Greg persuaded his family to come to the United States, which they did by way of New York While Galust hit the New York art scene, Greg went to work as an artist for a variety of leading video game companies, including Sony. Later Greg's work took the family to the video game capital of the world- Silicon Valley.

What happens when a 16-year-old hippie from the North Caucasus region of Eurasia leaves home to explore the world and pursue his artistic dreams? In this case, he ended up in Russia, got married, had two successfully artistic children, and brought the family to the US. Tiffany Carboni talks
to Galust Orduyan and his son Greg about their family jour-
ney to the Peninsula.

When Galust Orduyan enters a room, everyone knows it. With his jovial manner and booming voice, he offers the crowd a drink of his favorite Moldavian wine. "It's from Russia. Have some," he says, despite the early afternoon hour at the small Knorr Gallery in San Mateo. "One shouldn't drink to be happy, one should be happy to drink."
   It's these pieces of advice that show off Galust's zest for life. After all, he has a lot to be happy about. He now lives in a peaceful suburb far away from his turbulent childhood homeland of Armenia. He's happy to be married to the love of his life. He's happy that together they produced a pianist daughter (who has played at Carnegie Hall) and a Renaissance son. And that happiness reflects in his colorful and whimsical mosaics that feature beautiful mermaids, bright butterflies, surreal suns, and even that famous tongue from the Rolling Stones' logo. "In order to change this controversial but beautiful world, we have to have humor, irony, and optimism," he

The family found a home in Belmont where they've happily been ever since. "My grandmother always talked about the beautiful country of California," laughs Galust, "so we were very excited to come here."
   In addition to being an award-winning animator/graphic artist and painter, Greg is a furniture maker, ironworker, and stone carver. While in San Marco County, Greg has created a series of paintings reflecting his appreciation for the local sights and culture. Because of this series he is constantly being compared to Impressionist painter Cezanne, which stunned him at first. "I was never compared to Cezanne before I came to California. I think the atmosphere and landscape here is similar to the area of France where Cezanne painted, and I guess I captured that," he says. "After I was compared to him, I started reading up on his life and became really amazed about how similar our rituals are."
   For example, like Cezanne, Greg works on exterior paintings exclusively outside in order to convey the scene accurately with all senses. In doing so on a particularly cold and windy day, Greg wound up sick in bed for a few days. He later found out that Cezanne died from pneumonia caused by a similar experience. "I know I'd better watch it, but Cezanne was 60 when he died, so I figure I've got a good 30 years left," jokes Greg.
   Although their art differs in style and media, Galust and Greg are united by a common philosophical approach to their respective work-to illustrate their attitude towards their lives and the universe. It's not surprising considering their shared lineage of profound artists.

DECEMBER GENTRY 2002

 

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