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About George Samerjan

GEORGE SAMERJAN was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1915. His family moved to Hollywood California where he graduated from Hollywood High and Art Center School—studying at the latter under Barse Miller among others.


Painting and exhibiting throughout the west he opened his own studio on Sunset Boulevard, for a time shared by his friend Fletcher Martin. There the young artist won three United States Post Office mural competitions during the depression under the United States Department of Treasury Section of Fine Arts. The three, Calexico, Culver City (casein tempura on prepared wall) and Maywood (emulsion on canvas) showed his command of the genre. Maywood has been lost but Calexico and Culver City still stand (see mural section of website). Late in life he was interviewed by the Smithsonian for an oral history of the mural projects as he was one of the few surviving artists who participated. He was also named an official artist of the United States Air Force.


Renowned for his full sheet watercolors, he painted in oil as well throughout his long career and became a legend in the world of design in New York after World War II. He exhibited throughout his life through the country in group and one-man shows and his work is collected in countless private and public collections.

George with wife, June, on the balcony of his studio in 1941.

COLLECTIONS:   George Samerjan’s work is represented in countless private, corporate and institutional collections throughout the country for example,  Hilbert Museum of California Art, Smithsonian Institution, Abbott Laboratories, AT&T, Ford Motor Company, the Department of Defense, Sperry Rand Corporation, the Jason Schoen Collection, the Crain Collection, United States Army, the Tyrrell Collection, Fine Arts Society of San Diego.

EXHIBITED:     One Man Shows (partial): 
1939 George Samerjan Gallery Sunset Boulevard Hollywood 
1940 Fine Arts Gallery Balboa Park San Diego, Beverly Hills Women’s Club, Laguna Beach Art Association, Occidental College
1941 Oakland Art Gallery, Alkow Galleries Beverly Hills, Pottinger Galleries, Pasadena
1942 Pasadena Art Institute, California Institute of Technology
1943 Biltmore Art Gallery Los Angeles
1945 La Belle Image, Liege Belgium 7/7-21 1945 (an exhibit by Captain George Samerjan after the conclusion of the war while still stationed in the European Theater), The American Red Cross Rainbow Corner Paris, Laguna Beach Art Association 
1947 Peter James Samerjan Studio Hollywood, Biltmore Gallery Los Angeles
 1948 University of Redlands, Redlands California 
1951 A.I. Friedman Gallery NYC 
1953 Art Directors Club NYC   Associated American Artists Gallery NYC  Grand Central Gallery 
1954 Pratt Institute
1957 Thomas Paine Memorial House New Rochelle NY Art Directors Club NYC
1985 Gallery in the Courtyard Katonah NY,  Somerstown Gallery Somers NY, Young and Rubicam, Katonah Art Gallery

He participated in group shows throughout the country for six decades ranging from the Smithsonian Institution, to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, to major galleries, museums and art associations across the continent.

Poster advertisement for One Man Show in Liege, Belgium in 1945

Samerjan studio in Hollywood, California.

 AWARDS (among many others):

1938 American Watercolor Society, Honorable Mention

1939 Laguna Beach Art Association, Five Honorable Mentions

1940 Second Annual Art Fiesta San Diego, First Watercolor prize

1940 Oakland Art Gallery, First Watercolor Award (Gold Medal) 

1941 One­ Man Show, Guest of Honor

1941 Los Angeles County Fair, First Honorable mention 17th Annual Exhibition

1942 Santa Cruz Art Association, Second Prize

l942 California Watercolor Society, Second  Prize

1952 American Watercolor Society, Watercolor Prize

1952 Florida Southern College, Grumbacher Prize 1952;

1952 Terry National  Art Exhibition

1953 Audubon Patron's Prize

1953 New Rochelle Art Association, Watercolor Prize

1953 Salmagundi Club, Ralph Woolton Watercolor Prize

1958 Painters & Sculptors Society, N.J. Grumbacher Prize   

1956 Audubon Artists, Watercolor Prize

1962 American Watercolor Society, Windsor Newton Watercolor Prize 


Art Directors Club N.Y., Member Fine Arts Exhibitions Watercolor Prizes 1949, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1965, sculpture prize 1965

DESIGN:  Prior to World War II he served as the first Art Director for the Columbia broadcasting Systems Pacific Coast Network. In 1945, he became Art Director of the Los Angeles Times. Later he brought his family to New York to begin his legendary stay as Art Director of Esquire and Cornet Magazine. His editorial design brought national and international acclaim and exhibits of his design layouts were shown across the country from Harvard College to the Art Center School. In 1952 he opened one of the first independent design studio in New York City, continuing to work with the most accomplished artists, designers, illustrators and photographers of the time.

He taught at Pratt Institute with Franz Kline among others and for many years at New York University and then St. John’s.  He was a sought after lecturer around the country.

George interviewing world renowned artist Henri Matisse for Esquire Magazine.

STAMPS:     George was commissioned by the United States Postmaster General to execute four commemorative stamps:

Artic Explorations: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the discovery of the North Pole; the Adlai Stevenson Memorial Stamp; the Erie Canal Sesquicentennial Stamp; and the South Carolina Bicentennial.

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