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Asfour, Rita

Rita Asforth

Rita Asfour is the married name of Markrit Thomassian.

Her Armenian father, Kaspar Thomassian, escaped the World War I Armenian Holocaust in Turkey.  Her mother, Gamila Khoury, suffered the ravages of that same war, in Allepo, Syria.  Both escaped and became refugees in Egypt, where Markrit was born in 1933.  

Markrit went to school at the Lycee Francais in Cairo,  and later, in 1959, graduated with a BA in art, from the Scuola Internazionale Italiana, Leonardo da Vinci.

After graduating, Markrit spent five years in Beirut, Lebanon, drawing colorful illustrations that decorated many magazines and books.

Markrit arrived in Los Angeles in 1965.  Her first interview got her a job at Universal Studio Tours, where she drew quick pastel sketches of the tourists, for $15 each.

Only five years later, in 1970, Rita opened her own art gallery, Galerie Camille, on Canon Drive, in Beverly Hills.

Malibu was her home for 30 years.  Her landscapes and seascapes became infused with the natural beauty of the local ambiance.  Pepperdine University ballet students inspired her ballet series after she saw them bouncing with excitement while getting ready before they performed on stage. 

Rita retired in Las Vegas in 2012.  But after twice seeing the pageantry of the Jubilee Showgirls extravaganza at Bally’s Casino, she went back to painting and launched her Showgirls series.  This led to an exhibition at the University of Nevada and a documentary at Vegas PBS.

From Africa to America, through Asia and Europe, the journey was long and challenging, but delightful and memorable.

Markrit Thomassian became Rita Asfour after she was married.


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