Rita’s Journey in Pictures
1933 – Cairo, Egypt
Markrit Thomassian was born to her Armenian father, Kaspar Thomassian, and her Syrian mother, Gamila Khoury.
Kaspar was born in Turkey and escaped the World War I Armenian holocaust while he was only 13 years old. Gamila escaped the turmoil in Aleppo during that same war. Both arrived as refugees in Egypt but worked hard enough to be successful by the time Markrit was born.
1965 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Markrit Thomassian became Rita Asfour after she was married at the Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas.
1969 – Beverly Hills, California
The first art exhibition Rita had in the United States was at W&J Sloane on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. She had already sold enough paintings there to be offered that opportunity. To show her gratitude she donated all the thirty paintings in that show to the City of Hope. The letter attests to that.
1970 – Beverly Hills, California
Only five years after immigrating to the United States Rita opened her own art “Galerie Camille” on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. She had sold enough paintings to warrant such a venture.
As a teenager, Rita had a crush on Cornel Wilde, a famous Hollywood star. The opening reception was organized by Marjorie Walker Public Relations. And who was one of the guests? None other than Cornel Wilde himself. When he was told about Rita’s childhood dreams he planted a kiss on her cheek. Rita never recovered.
1971 – Santa Monica, California
Rita was commisioned by Santa Monica Congressman Alphonso Bell to paint a portrait of Tricia Nixon on the occasion of her wedding. The Congressman delivered the painting to the White House after which Tricia Nixon sent a thank you letter to Rita.
2006 – Malibu, California
Rita created a 2006 calendar of the main Malibu landmarks and donated all the proceeds to the Los Angeles County Sherrif. She included with her donation a portrait of the Sherrif which he proudly displayed in his office.
2016 – Las Vegas, Nevada
“Rita Asfour – Art Her Way” was a six-month exhibition of Ballerina and Showgirl paintings at the University of Nevada.
It included a ballet performance by the students and a parade by Las Vegas Showgirls.
2017 – Las Vegas, Nevada
PBS Las Vegas aired a half-hour documentary about Rita that was advertised in their Source Magazine as follows:
“Explore the life of Rita Asfour, a Las Vegas-based visual artist. Rita came out of retirement to paint the city’s showgirls after seeing their bedazzling performance at Bally’s Jubilee show. Dr. Robert Tracy, of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, recognized the depth and diversity of her art and curated a show for her. This program takes us into her home where she still creates art today.”