Playing Otters
Accession Number: PC.52
Artist: George Papashvily
serpentine and granite, 30 x 32 x 17.5 inches
Adopted by:

Georgian (former USSR) born sculptor George Papashvily (1898-1978) succeeded both as a sculptor and as an author. Both careers came naturally to him. He co-wrote, with his wife Helen, humorous books often based on his life experiences. Their first book, Anything Can Happen, a tale of George’s experiences as an immigrant in America (1922), was made into a movie in 1952. They lived in a colonial stone house near Quakertown, Pennsylvania. The property, formerly a farm, consisted of old and second-growth woodland, with some open meadows and is now used as a needed and effetive game preserve. In the winter they moved to their house in Cambria, California, which had an open-air studio in the garden and the blue Pacific Ocean as background.

With no formal training, George Papashvily began carving sculpture in the early 1940s. He first worked with literal representations, but soon developed a signature style that was a combination of both naive and modern. He carved directly on wood and on stone, sculpting free standing figures and bas relief. His favorite subjects came from nature; animals, insects, flowers and an occasional human figure.

George Papashvily’s work is represented in many private collections and public buildings. He executed commissions for the West Oak Lane and Fox Chase Branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Baltimore County Public Library, Hanford (California) Public Library, Beverly Hills Public Library, Bucks County Public Library, Allentown Public Library, and the Cascades Conference Center, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

He frequently exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and had solo shows at the Allentown Art Museum, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Reading Public Museum and Art Galllery, Lehigh University, Scripps College, and the Woodmere Gallery. The William Penn Memorial Museum showed  sixty of his works at a retrospective exhibition in 1971.

He was a member of the Lehigh Valley Art Alliance, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Audobon Artists, and the Philadelphia chapter of Artists Equity. A documentary film of Papashvily at work and discussing his materials and techniques was made and is distributed by the Department of Visual Education of Wayne State University, Detroit,  and is also available through the Free Library of Philadelphia.

He died in Cambria, California.

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