Since the late 1970s, I have chosen to focus on the human figure as the key theme in all of my work. The subject, themes and ideas explore the human experience in life, past, present, and looking ahead. These themes are largely autobiographical, but, and most importantly, utilize many metaphors in depicting my experiences, reflections and perspectives about life. Examples of these paths are depicted in works which convey a sense of capturing oneself in solitary moments of reflection, pain, peace, emotional challenges, indecision, fear, guilt, indifference, self-inflicted silence, and expectation. Second, I explore the realm of relationships and the vast experiences which affect them and those close individuals around them who are also affected by these situations.
The subjects depicted in my work are friends, relatives, and myself. Even the models who work with me are colleagues and friends. I find this connection and comforting trust to be essential to my work, since most of the themes are reflective of my own experiences, feelings, and observations. The people who work with me have a strong sense of what I am trying to share and accomplish. We discuss what my ideas and intentions are about, and we share openly our own journeys and experiences. The people who model for me and work with me are very important to my work; they bring their own experience, honesty, and understanding of what we are trying to share and express.
“…in the private isolated moments, when we have to face our demons, whatever they may be, real or self-imposed, these are the conflicts and moments of indecision, pain, and confrontations of life which I share through my work.”
As I have continued to explore the depths and complexities of relationships in life, I have become more aware of the quieter, more subtle shades in life and its impact on my work. In this journey, I have found more and more similar experiences and connections with others, both in the past and present, the gray areas in human experiences, the fleeting moments, not dark or light… just life.
George Rivera, M.A., is a former Executive Director & Senior Curator of the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. Rivera had been with the Triton Museum of Art since 1985 before stepping down from his position in July 2013. Prior to the Triton, Rivera was the Executive Director & Curator of the San Jose Art League from 1982-1985. Rivera received his academic training in art for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from San Jose State University.
As an artist, Rivera has been included in over 150 exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally. Since 1974 his drawings, mixed media works and paintings have been presented at art centers, galleries and museums. His works have been presented by art galleries including the Group 21 Gallery, Los Gatos; Freeman Gallery, Palo Alto; Branner-Spangenberg Gallery, Palo Alto; Sperling Gallery, San Jose; the Pope Gallery, Santa Cruz; Ebert Gallery, San Francisco; Michael Himovitz Gallery, Sacramento; d.p. Fong Galleries, San Jose; Washington Square/Togonon Gallery, San Francisco, and currently with the Sandra Lee Art Gallery, San Francisco.
Locally, his drawings and paintings have been presented at the San Jose Museum of Art; the De Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University; the Art Museum of Los Gatos; the Euphrat Museum of Art, De Anza College, Cupertino; the Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara; National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, CA.; Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts, Saratoga; Olive Hyde Art Gallery, Fremont; Union Art Gallery San Jose State University, ICA Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose; WORKS/San Jose, MACLA San Jose, the San Jose Art Center, Michael Rosenthal Gallery, San Francisco, among others.
In 2012 there was a 30-year survey of his paintings and drawings at the Art Museum of Los Gatos. This solo exhibition featured a publication with an introduction and essays by art historians Preston Metcalf and Helayna Thickpenny and by Curator of Art Catherine Politopulus of the Art Museum of Los Gatos.
In 2013 Rivera was in multiple two-person exhibitions with his wife Kristin Lindseth Rivera at the Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, CA. and the Sandra Lee Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
Since 1977 he has organized and/or curated over 375 exhibitions, including local, state, national and international projects, collaborating with small to major national museums, galleries and private collections. This has included developing, organizing and overseeing in-house curated exhibitions that toured nationally to museums and art centers.
As a juror of art Rivera has served as a solo juror or as a member of a panel of jurors for over 400 (1978 to the present) exhibitions and competitions of local, regional, statewide, national and international art programs, projects, fellowships, artist-in-residency programs and competitions.
He is an Associate Faculty Instructor of Art at Mission College in Santa Clara (1986 to the present) where he has taught drawing, design, color, life drawing, museum and gallery studies, air-brush painting, and oil, acrylic and watercolor painting. He is an Associate Faculty Member at Ohlone College in Fremont as well, where he teaches Drawing and Art History classes. In 2005 he began instructing a class at De Anza College in Cupertino for a course entitled Art Exhibition Analysis where he meets his students throughout the Bay Area at museums, art galleries and artist studios to discuss contemporary art. Currently an Extension Instructor of curatorial/art history studies for the University of California at Berkeley extension program (1996-2000, 2007 to the present), Rivera presents lectures of Bay Area art history from 1945 to today throughout the region. Since 1979 he has taught art studio, art appreciation and introduction to the arts/art history classes at San Jose State University, San Jose Art League, Pacific Art league, UC Berkeley Extension, DeAnza College, Triton Museum of Art School and Mission College.
Committed to giving back to the art community, Rivera participates year-round in artist critiques to individual artists, students and art groups/clubs/associations and organizations, portfolio reviews and career counseling.
Rivera and his wife Kristin contribute works of art to art auctions, fundraisers and gallery/museum events throughout the year in support of community art programs throughout the Greater Bay Area. Since 1978 he has produced numerous commissioned portraits of many of this region’s community leaders as well as general portraits and commissioned work.
Rivera has been a recipient of numerous awards in the field of art, art education, curating, arts administration and community service, including annual recognition in the 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th and current editions of Who’s Who in American Art, and in 2005 was selected annually into Who’s Who in America 60th and 61st edition. Twice he has been nominated by peers and colleagues for the prestigious Fleishhacker Foundation Artist Award.
In 2013 Rivera was honored with the 2013 Legacy Laureate Award from the Arts Council Silicon Valley. He also received a Proclamation from the City of Santa Clara in recognition of this award.
As an arts writer his works have been published throughout the Bay Area including museum/gallery publications, catalogs and brochures, and he was an art reviewer and contributing editor for Artistwriter publication.
Rivera also served as a host of INSIDE ART!, a South Bay televised art program produced by award-winning and exhibiting artist Sandra Beard that was presented on public television community access channels throughout the area, focusing the art of the South Bay Area region. This program featured artists, alternative art spaces and art programs from throughout the South Bay Area.
Rivera currently resides in San Jose with his wife. She, Kristin, is an international award-winning and exhibiting artist in sculpture, drawing and printmaking. She teaches art at various art centers, museums and colleges locally.
Besides his activities as an art administrator, instructor of art, faculty member and artist, Rivera has and continues to serve on numerous art/community boards and advisory board/committees for non-profit organizations and educational programs throughout the Bay Area. Both Kristin and George share their knowledge and experience in assisting artists, art clubs and community art programs throughout the region.