Oceans art show debuts Saturday

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Consider the new Malibu Lumber Yard Art Gallery art exhibit as paying homage to Malibu’s greatest asset.

“It’s my dedication to the sea,” said painter Seda Baghdasarian, whose first local solo show opens Saturday at the gallery. “In a way, I’m honoring the ocean for being my savior, my connection to nature that inspires me as an artist.”

The show is titled “Oceans: Dedicated to the Seas,” and reflects many years of Baghdasarian’s work while living on the coast. For subject matter in “Oceans: Dedicated to the Seas,” Baghdasarian, a north Malibu resident since 2000, turned to imagery that should be familiar to her fellow longtime locals: waves, pelicans, whales, tide pools, rock formations, palm trees, Harbor Channel Islands, and the coastline along Leo Carrillo State Beach.

“I can see in her paintings how they have evolved, much like the ocean she paints,” said the show’s curator, Lisa Stoddard. “Seda’s paintings evoke a feeling peacefulness, similar to the feeling of the cove she painted so often. She brought the cove to life with her paintings. Seda feels the environment around her and brings life to the canvas.”

Comprised of 50 paintings, “Oceans” will mark only the second solo show for Baghdasarian, who has organized many group shows at the Lumber Yard. A reception for “Oceans: Dedicated to the Seas” will be held on Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Malibu Lumber Yard Art Gallery. Chocolate Box Café, which she owns with husband Zare, will provide finger food. For information, call (310) 982-7594.

Before coming to Malibu, Baghdasarian worked for years as an architect and interior designer for theme parks. In the 1980s and through the mid-1990s, Baghdasarian helped design rides for Disney in Anaheim and Glendale, and for Universal Studios in Orlanda, Fla. and Japan.

She then became pregnant with her first child, and turned to painting as a hobby as she transitioned into a new phase of her life. Today, her sons, Adrian, 16, and Aren, 13, attend school in Calabasas, and Baghdasarian has amassed quite an oeuvre of oils.

“I always loved paintings, but I never painted in oil,” said the experienced watercolorist.

She mentored under Malibuite Arthur Egeli, a third-generation portrait painter whose ancestor rendered the presidential portraits of Eisenhower and Wilson. Baghdasarian began as an artist picking up plen-air painting, capturing the Pasadena Bridge, and she flourished from there. She joined a group show that exhibited at Pasadena’s Blinn House.

When painting, Baghdasarian draws on her heritage for inspiration. Of Armenian descent, Baghdasarian was born in Tehran to a father who lived in Beirut. At age 10, she was relocated to England, where she attended an all-girls boarding school, Battle Abbey in East Sussex, and London Metropolitan University in London, where she received her BA in architecture and interior design. For a brief period, Bagdhasarian wanted to produce documentary films, such as “Art and Photography.”

She immigrated from England to the States in 1982, following her sister Stella, who was working in the U.S. as a travel agent. In 2006, she voyaged to her ancestral country of Armenia, which fed her muse. She created 32 large paintings inspired by her trip, with proceeds from sales of her work going towards remodeling Armenia VIllage School.

“I’m so proud of our ancestry,” she said.  

Baghdasarian also loves her life in Malibu, where she enjoys frequenting favorite restaurants Geoffrey’s, Plate, Savory and, until last month’s fire, BeauRivage.

“It’s a beautiful, small community,” she said. “When you live in such a beautiful environment, you tend to want to do something about it. Everyone has been extremely creative.”

Serenity and catharsis is what keeps her coming back to the canvas.

“You experience peace, harmony,” she said. “You’re transforming through creativity. And that’s the beauty of art.”