A native of the former Soviet state of Georgia will hold a joint art sale in West Reading to benefit his homeland following a devastating conflict with its larger neighbor, Russia.

Artist and illustrator Niko Chocheli, Doylestown, will offer his work for sale alongside West Reading jewelry designer Justin Bortz, owner of Justin Bortz Jewelers and Midnight Designs, 438 Penn Ave., from 6-9 p.m., Sept. 19 at the store.

"I go to Georgia every year," said Chocheli but said he has cancelled a planned trip to his homeland in October due to the unrest.

Chocheli said the Russian response has left many Georgians homeless and in dire need of basic essentials.

Twenty percent of Chocheli's and 10 percent of Bortz's profits will be given to the American Friends of Georgia, Inc.

The nonprofit organization was established in 1994 by Americans and Georgian-Americans.

"They provide humanitarian assistance," said Chocheli. He added the money is sent to the organization and it is used for refugees and people who are suffering. The artist said currently there are 180,000 refugees who need items to survive the current ordeal.

His home country holds a special place in his heart because his friends and family still live there.

Chocheli, who moved to the country in 1995, is classically training in art with a MFA from Tbilisi Academy of Fine Arts. He is know throughout the world and has displayed his artwork in over 32 exhibits worldwide. Chocheli was also awarded the Alien of Extraordinary Ability by the U.S. government.

Aliens of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A) is an achievement-based opportunity for a green card. It is given to individuals who exceed within their profession.

Chocheli gained recognition in the United States and decided to move here to further his career. "I am classically trained and have been drawing since I was four," he said.

He describes his work as a fusion of Eastern (Europe) and Western (such as Asia and Persia) culture. He also incorporates Renaissance period art into his work.

"It [artwork] was fused with my classical art training. It is an unique blend," he said.

The tools Chocheli uses to create his masterpieces are acrylic paint and other traditional mediums.

He is also a highly prominent children's book illustrator. He is currently illustrating his seventh book.

Bortz is a graduate of Governor Mifflin High School and is artistic in his own right, designing jewelry and music composition order.

He opened his Penn Ave. business in 1991. The joint exhibit will be his second showcase.

His first exhibit was this year from May-July.

His newest designs are going to be inspired by Chocheli's religious and spiritual artwork.

The pair met through mutual friends. They hit-it-off right away because of their love and interest in religious artwork.

The jewelry owner said he is honored to an extraordinary artist display his work in his shop.

For more information on the American Friends of Georgia, Inc. visit: http://afgeorgia.org/default.aspx.

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