An Open Letter from Caroline Robe

13, December 2012 § Leave a comment

1. whole painting
Dear John, Jane, and Jun– my lovely teachers from a year ago–
It is true that everything changes for the better after a time at the Aegean Center. Looking back one year ago we were hanging that final show. This week I am hanging my university’s final show. I can only hint at the personal growth, joy, and creative productivity that has occurred between the two. I know that this incredible moment, which is yet unfinished, began while I was on Paros immersed in what I can retrospectively see is one of the best and most unique communities that exist anywhere. Paros opened me to loving a place, loving a craft, and loving myself, and those lessons have continued to guide me as I make my way back in the States. Thanks to all of you for that.7
I didn’t know it then but the time spent in Italy and watching Jane and Jun do their painting work gave me a strong interest in narrative and classical technique. When I came back in the winter I began studying egg tempera and have been working with it since then. I was also awarded a scholarship to go study fresco this summer, and now work in both. Early in the year I started on my Honors thesis, a year-long independent project in the student’s discipline. My thesis is the work I am hanging in the show and I will be defending it to my committee in two weeks time.8
I wanted to share this with you because I feel it shows how much I absorbed while in Italy and Greece and the tremendous impact you have on your students. I think of you all and things you have taught me often. From you, John, I think of lessons about midtones, I am not even joking. I truly want to make the midtones in the paintings sing. I also think to really see things and appreciate. From you, Jane, I think of lessons about the figure, some tips on glazing, and how to be a woman and an artist all at once. From you, Jun, I remember many painting techniques learned, and I see how to be a young figurative painter with verve. All these lessons and more went into completing this project.
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The painting project I conceived for my thesis is a narrative polyptych “afterpiece” in egg tempera. I wanted to explore the process and flow of bliss, vernacular space here in Orono, and feminine creative power. I started painting early this spring and finished last week. The painting is eight feet wide and five and half feet tall, structurally organized as a hinged triptych, with multiple paintings on each panel. There is silver leafing in the sky and I built the frame in a timber-frame style, learning much about carpentry! It is almost a house in itself. The center panel mimics annunciation paintings, but with a twist. The bottom panel is a hell montage inspired by Bosch. The outer two are symbolic landscapes compiled from my town here.
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That’s all. I’m so happy to share this with you and to look back a year ago and remember it all.

As for the future, I am graduating in December, working on my portfolio this spring and summer, and headed out for residencies in the fall. I am applying to some in the states but really hoping to get over to Europe where I can learn more about the sort of painting I am interested in.

My best wishes to all of you, and thank you, thank you, thank you,
Caroline
http://carolinerobe.com/

The Sanctum

15, October 2012 § Leave a comment

At the core of the Aegean Center, lies the philosophy of the Sanctum, the Center’s special space for students in the hill village of Lefkes.  If the Center is an oasis for the Classical arts in a wasteland of post-modernism, then the Sanctum is an island refuge from the din of the over-connected, banal networks found in the supposed modern world.  In my own experience I have found the Sanctum to be a place of healing, a fountain of renewal after I had been drained dry by societies pressures and the indecision of identity and character.

In 2010 I was still connected to old rhythms, still dancing a tired, limping waltz leftover from an exhausting home-care commitment in which I had willingly labored since 2004 and human aid work in Bosnia in 2007 and 2008.  That fresh spring day I had not intended to come to sit in the clear light of that quiet room.  I had wandered around Lefkes hoping to take some interesting photos in the streets and the surrounding area, but found myself, quite by accident, at the Sanctum’s door.  The students had visited the place a few weeks before with John Pack.  He had told us something about himself that day and opened up his heart in both joy and sadness.  I inserted my shiny, new key, turned the lock and walked in.  I put down my day-pack.  It suddenly felt too heavy to bear.  The muted April light shining through the windows illuminated the soft pillows, colorful rugs and a small wooden writing desk on the floor.  There were only earth tones, nothing jarring to the senses. There was a painting on the wall, some wooden tables, a few simple caned chairs. The air was cool, scented with oregano growing in small pots.  In comparison I felt heavy, ungainly, somewhat unbalanced.  My mind was buzzing with a dull grey drone and I found myself asking questions as old as Paros:  “Why am I here? Who am I? What is my reason? Where am I going? What will I find when I get there?”  I sat down roughly into the pillows, grateful for their softness, kicked off my shoes and fell into oblivion.

I awoke an hour later feeling more calm, but still pensive.  I had dreamed.  I understood that it was acceptable to feel uncertain, to ask these questions of myself.  I didn’t need the answers today.  Perhaps they would never be satisfied.  To keep searching would be better than ending the quest with a quick, efficient, modern answer.  I had discovered this vital truth, a truth I knew in my heart, in a little room in Greece, surrounded by silence and light.  I returned to Paroikia that afternoon, transformed.

So what is the philosophy of the Sanctum?  To be honest I am not entirely sure, but I know that there is one important rule:  No electronic interference or devices: no mobile phones, no internet, no recorded music, no games.  Nothing that would distract the mind from the important experience of ‘being’, as opposed to ‘doing’.  We come to the Sanctum to learn who we are, just as we come to the Aegean Center to experience something we do not have in America, or wherever we are from.  With any luck we leave that behind when we step off the boat from Athens.  We search for something more meaningful in a world measured by ‘things’ and a vertical technology.  We disengage from the cacophony of an incorrectly defined progressive era, step over the marble threshold and into a clear and quiet room.  We put down what we carry.

– John D.C. Masters, Paros, 15 October, 2012

Alumni Update: Adrian Eisenhower

1, April 2009 § 1 Comment

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Adrian Eisenhower recently sent us the following update about his new exhibition of photographs from the inauguration, now showing at the bau gallery in Beacon, NY:

On January 18th, two days before the inauguration, I went down to DC with a friend and videographer, Vincent Galgano. I went to make a photographic essay of the event. I brought with me three cameras: a Rollieflex, a Leica, and a digital Nikon. After walking around the mall on the 19th, I chose to use only the Rollie. The day of the inauguration, the 20th, was hectic. Even with an early start we had to throw ourselves onto the metro train. When I was at the mall I photographed alone.

After processing the Plus X with Edwal’s FG-7 and 9% sodium sulfide solution, I scanned the negatives on an Epson Perfection 4490 with Silverfast software. I was able to print at the Masters School in NY, late night hours when the students were not around. The prints were made on Hahnemuhle paper with an Epson Stylus 4000 and K3 inks. The facilities were not quite as WYSISYG or controlled as those at the Center and required some getting used to. After some fumbling they proved to be adequate.

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The images are currently a part of the show at a gallery in Beacon, NY called bau. The show, called XLIV, opened on the second Saturday of March. It was a festive evening, spared not of police, milkshakes and a Ukulele.  Shirin Borthwick, an alumna of the Center and graduate student of writing at Columbia (pictured above with me and Vincent), was able to attend.

Aegean Center Benefit Concert: An Update from Maria-Elena

23, January 2009 § Leave a comment

benefit-stage-1

I am thrilled to finally report on the Aegean Center Benefit Concert held in Los Angeles in June 2008. To share my experience of the Center with nearly 200 attendees through song was an incredible gift. The event raised just short of $10,000 for the Center and helped launch the Aegean Endowment Fund. One of the many surprises that afternoon was the presence of Marc Novak, a former student from the early 80s!

Here is a review of the June Benefit Concert published in the Hellenic Journal:

…the Greek community was recently treated to an afternoon of beautiful music, a generous reception in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The venue was the venerable Wilshire Ebell Theater and the occasion was a musical benefit for the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts on the island of Paros. Maria-Elena Kolovos, who had studied for two [terms] at the Center, presented a program of songs from Monteverdi to Villa-Lobos which show her range, pure clear soprano voice and understanding and love of the music. Four Greek songs completed the program but not before her father, George Kolovos, came up on stage to join in the final song and show his joy in dance. The audience was delighted!

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If you would be interested in holding an event to benefit the Center, please email me at  mekolovos at gmail dot com. I am happy to share ideas or assist in any way.

A Busy Session at the Center

11, May 2008 § Leave a comment

David Romtvedt playing the button accordian for Phil Able, John, Margot Brown, and John Van Buren

It is always busy at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts, but the Spring 2008 session at the Center has been particularly animated. There have been visiting artists, guests, alumni, readings, performances and presentations. Here is a short post to recap some of the events of the session so far and some of the activities to come.

Starting in mid-March, 2005-2006 alumni Maria-Elena and Gabriel’s former tutor Brett arrived. Maria-Elena gave a stirring solo performance for an assembled audience of faculty, students and friends of the center.

Also in March, visiting professors Peter Abbs and Lisa Dart made their regular visit to the “Academy” (as Peter likes to call the Aegean Center) and gave a joint poetry reading featuring recent and older works. Peter also read poems to be featured in John and Peter’s upcoming exhibition The Greater Journey in Canterbury this September.

April saw the arrival of artist-in residence Betsy Bonner. Betsy and poet Alicia Stallings would later give an enjoyable reading of their respective works, which could be see in video on this page.

Greek Easter came late (April 27) and with it the arrival of many guests. Close Aegean Center friend John Van Buren was the first to arrive bringing with him some welcome warm, spring weather. John enjoyed works in progress in the studios, sat in on vocal performances from the ensemble, and ate his fair share of delicious tzatziki. John also brought two old friends to the Center, Wyoming Poet Laureate and musician David Romtvedt and ceramist and gallery director Margot Brown, David’s wife. David gave two performances, one a selection of poems and the other a musical performance. Playing his button accordion and accompanied by Margot on percussion, David gave an interesting and rousing performance of various folks music of the Americas. Margot gave a presentation of her artwork, as well as pieces from artists represented at her gallery.

During the same week visiting photographer Marion Patterson, a student and colleague of Ansel Adams, gave an enthralling presentation of her life as a photographer, and displayed the work featured in her book Grains of Sand. After the presentation Marian graciously went out with photo students to and together they shot photographs of the Paros landscape.

Other visitors were 2001-2002 alumni Anne-Meade and spring 2002 alumni Arial. Next week will see a presentation by philosopher Warwick Fox. Later in May the Center will feature  poets Christopher Merrill, director of the Iowa University’s International Writers’ Program, and Adrianne Kalfpoulou. Aegean Center alum and exhibiting photographer Holly Lynton will come to show her work as well.

Meanwhile, the students are all hard at work as the session is beginning to wind down. Next up, the vocal perfomances (ensemble and solo), followed by the Student Reading, to be followed by the Student Exhibition, concluding this wonderfully busy and animated spring session.

-by Jun-Pierre Shiozawa

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