Since the 1970s I have chosen to focus on the human figure and portraits as the key theme and focus in my work. The subject, themes, intent and ideas explore the human experience in life, past, present and looking ahead. These common human life experiences connect all of us past and present. As I have continued to explore the depths, emotional layers and complexities in our lives and life experiences I have become more aware of the quieter and more subtle shades of emotional experience in life, and the impact this has had my work and ideas. I purposely choose to use dark visual foundations, strong high contrast lighting and extreme value range to enhance and heighten the overall visual impact so that the works engage, imply or suggest realities that are dark visually and possibly thematically. Reflecting on the darker moments and challenges in life that everyone experiences in life I use carefully composed and specific placement of high contrast light, highlights, and the presence of metaphors and traditional art historical symbols and imagery to depict and represent the presence of unconditional hope. Hope is the main point in all of my work, no matter how small or vague or subtle its presence, it is always there. 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 our human experience and life, the fleeting moments, not dark or light…just life. In essence, faith and hope.
George Rivera is a nationally recognized exhibiting artist, arts administrator, curator, arts writer, board member and educator. As an artist Rivera has been included in over 100 exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally including Northern California venues such as: the San Jose Museum of Art, Morris Graves Museum of Art, Haggin Museum of Art, de Saisset Museum, Euphrat Museum of Art, Montalvo Center for the Arts, National Steinbeck Center, Art Museum of Los Gatos, Triton Museum of Art, Olive Hyde Art Gallery, Union Art Gallery San Jose State University, Union Gallery Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, ICA San Jose, Works San Jose, MACLA San Jose, Galleria de La Raza San Francisco, Ebert Gallery San Francisco, Washington Square/Togonon Gallery San Francisco, Himovitz Gallery San Francisco/Sacramento, Michael Rosenthal Gallery San Francisco, San Jose Art League among other galleries, art centers and alternative spaces. Currently Rivera’s works are represented by the Sandra Lee Gallery in San Francisco.
As an arts educator for over 30 years Rivera has taught studio art and art history courses at: De Anza College, Pacific Art League, San Jose Art League, San Jose State University, Triton Museum of Art School, UC Berkeley extension, Mission College and Ohlone College. Currently he is an Instructor of painting and drawing at Mission College and drawing at Ohlone College.
In 2013 Rivera was recognized and awarded the 2013 Artist Legacy Laureate Award from the Arts Council Silicon Valley.