Col. Jirayr H. Zorthian


Col. Jirayr Hamparzoom Zorthian was born April 14, 1911 in Kutahya, Turkey, of Armenian parents.  At the age of three, he showed considerable talent in drawing and painting.  His works are on record from that time on.

He went through two Turkish massacres before age eight.  He left Turkey at age nine with his family and spent a year in Padua, Italy, waiting for his visa to open to the United States.  This period was very important in his life because his father took him to many cities in Europe and exposed him to great works of art.  He arrived in the United States at the age of eleven and settled with his family in New Haven, Connecticut.  He obtained his formal education there.  After graduating from Yale, the Winchester Fellowship granted him a year and a half at the American Academy in Rome with travel and study throughout Europe.

His art career branched into various directions on his return to the United States.  As a mural painter his reputation was established.  He has forty two (42) murals throughout the United States.  Other aspects of his art career included forty seven years of constructing and designing buildings.  He is an architecture and design consultant.


              Yale School of Fine Arts, BFA, 1936
              Winchester Fellowship
              American Academy in Rome 1936-1938

    Murals: (some of the significant ones)

        A large rock mural in the Laura Scudder home in La Habra, California, 1957.

        "Phantasmagoria of Military Intelligence Training" A large serial mural 157' long and  4' high.  Commissioned by the U.S. Army and later lost, 1945.

        "The Development of Power" and "The Development of Light"
        Two large murals in the reception area of The United Illuminating Company, New Haven, Connecticut,  Temporarily removed for reinstallation in new building, 1937.

        "Restoration After the Hurricane," Mural in United Illuminating Plant, New Haven, Connecticut.

        Twelve (12) murals in the Governors Reception Room in Nashville, Tennessee.
        Post Office, St. Johnsville, New York,1938 .

        Other murals are in churches, hotels, post offices and residences.

    Developer and director of The Zorthian Ranch for Children, 1957-1982.  A summer day camp to develop creative and athletic potential in children.

    Architecture Consultant for the publication, "Engineering Science", 1960-1972.

    Coordinator, Mural Competition, Glendale Water Reclamation Plant, 1970.

    Design Consultant for the F.C. Nash & Company, department stores,  Pasadena, California, 1967.

    Combat Artist for the United StatesNavy. Sent to Formosa and Viet Nam to observe, draw and paint his impressions.  The government owns the resulting painting and drawings, including a portrait of John F. Kennedy.

    Chairman, "Art in Architecture," Los Angeles, California, 1956

    Chairman, Pasadena Art Fair, 1954, 1955.

    Center for Research and Development of Industrial Discards with the Emphasis on Aesthetics.   Since 1945 at his 45 acre ranch in Altadena, California, he has been recycling materials to construct buildings, corrals, walls, stables, large wall and tower sculptures.

      Chouinard Art Institute
      Otis Art Institute
      California Institute of Technology
      Chandler School
      Pasadena City College

                        L.A. Slide participant with "Water Wall" sculpture.

        "The Four Aces,"  One of the Four Aces (Ace of Hearts) at the Jan Arte
        Gallery in Pasadena, 1996.

        "Artists Influenced by Architecture," Novaspace, Los Angeles Theater Center.

        Baghdad Bi-Annual International Festival of Art, In Iraq.  Represented the
        United States with three large compositions in 1988.
        The Men's Committee of the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art sponsored a large etching in the 1970's.  It was unveiled at the museum banquet in his honor in preparation for an exhibit of his large 1960's drawings.

        Pacific Ocean Park, 1964

        Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, 1954

        "The Divorcement," A collage which hung in  a show entitled "Twenty four most promising United States Artists."1953

    Awards and Honors:
        Grand Marshall of the 1997 Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, Pasadena, California.

        Tennessee Colonel  bestowed by Governor George Mc Wherther, 1987.

        "Best Artist of Pasadena," and "Most Eccentric" voted by the people in a survey of the, Pasadena Weekly, 1989

        Gold Crown Award, for art, by the Pasadena Arts Council, 1983

        First Prize, drawing, Pasadena Society of Artists, 1959

        Purchase Prize,    Los Angeles Country Museum of Art , 1949, for
        "The Mob," a large oil painting.

        "The Last Bohemian," feature story and cover of the  L A Weekly ,
        June 13, 1997.

        Smithsonian Archives of American Art at the Huntington Library

        "The Wizard's Eye,  Visions of American Resourcefulness," by Jim Higgs, Chronical Books.  Featuring the works of Jirayr H. Zorthian of walls, buildings, outdoor sculptures, gates, sculpture compositions and land sculpture composed of mostly recycled materials.

        "No Ordinary Genius," Life and Times, PBS TV production about
        Richard Feynman.


Click here to view some of his work.
Col. Jirayr Zorthian in his studio.