Illustrating the Iliad: Monotypes & Paintings, Opening at the Aegean Center 30 July 2011

22, July 2011 § 2 Comments

I can not remember when the idea of illustrating the Iliad first occurred to me. I have known the stories of Achilles and of Helen, the “most beautiful woman in the world”, since childhood. These stories float in the western psyche and reappear in various forms as archetype and impetus for the re-creation of new stories. I loved these stories and I could recall their flavor, almost the way that a fine taste can linger in your mouth. When I came to live in Greece I sometimes caught a flash of a sea nymph in the waves, or Pan among the olive groves. The gods were still here and inhabiting the island. When I walked the streets I sometimes glimpsed Helen and Paris as their modern counterparts went about their daily lives. Once the project of illustrating the Iliad surfaced I knew I had to realize it. It took me many years to begin as I felt I was not ready, perhaps not mature enough, but also not skillful enough. With years of painting now behind me and entering into my fifth decade I decided I had waited long enough.

The Iliad begins western literature. Created by Homer in the 8th century BCE it depicts a war that took place more than four centuries earlier. Roberto Calasso, in “The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony”, said that the idea of progress in the arts is refuted by the perfection of the Iliad. It has never been surpassed. The Iliad brings together stories of human passion, evokes the dangers of hubris, illuminates the futility of war, and shows us the responsibilities we owe to our fellow man. All of this born out of the events of an ancient war, fought by men but urged on by the capricious gods. The war is fought over Helen. A war waged over a unique woman, the most beautiful woman in the world. A war fought over beauty and honor by very flawed men who come to understand the depth of sacrifice and loss that are demanded. The heroes are trapped in an epic war, while Ananke, the goddess of necessity, tightens her noose about their heads. It is a tale of transformation; the characters change as the conflict rages. We question the nature of revenge when Achilles dishonors the corpse of Hector and see his transformation as he learns that material wealth and military honor cannot replace lost love and life. Our sense of what is honorable comes in the actions of Hector, who fights a battle he knows he will lose but who keeps faith between his words and deeds. Our sense of a true King comes from Priam who refuses to lay blame on Helen for the conflict and who is able to beg on his knees for the body of his son. These and the other characters form complex webs of knowledge about the content of human souls. Little has changed in three millennia.

I hope that my illustrations can lure students into reading the Iliad as the loss of this story from our modern dialogue would be monumental.

Jane Morris Pack

Carrie Cooley Concert 29 May, 20:00, Apothiki Art Gallery

22, May 2011 § Leave a comment

“And yet, Courage is me, courage friend! The world is lovely, and not at all fearful to the bold man. What then is music? Music is a sacred art which brings together all varieties of courage like cherubim around a shining throne, and for that reason it is the most holy among the arts.”

Courage. When one thinks of courage, the picture is usually of a hero going into battle, a knight, a policeman, James Bond, swords, guns, knives. Courage to me is a brush, a pen, a voice that breaks the silence, the click of a shutter, an empty canvas with endless possibilities. When I think of courage I think of people who follow their dreams, even if the path might be a little unorthodox. The Aegean Center is a haven for these people. To be part of the Aegean Center is to be surrounded by people who ride on the shoulders of Hope and reach their goals by these means, a great family of optimists who add color, depth and meaning to this world. People who create, and those who encourage creation. These are the heroes in this world.

It is in homage to the creators, to the dreamers, to every student and faculty member who has ever been a part of the Aegean Center, to every person who strives to add beauty to this world, not because he hopes to be acknowledged and praised, but because he can no more imagine a world without art and music, than a world without light or air, that I offer this concert as a gift of deepest gratitude from the bottom of my heart.

I have selected the music based on texts which I felt best illustrated the connection between the art forms, which at times seems almost cyclical, even eternal. Because my gift is music, I open the concert with the composer’s aria from Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss from which the above quote is taken. The Poulenc Le travail du peintre (The works of the painter) with texts by Paul Éluard illustrates the connection between painting and poetry, and poetry and music. The Respighi songs with texts by Antonio Rubino illustrate how one can see art and hear music in life and in nature, and how each sound, color and smell contributes to the music of our lives. The Jake Heggie song cycle, Statuesque, talks about life from the points of view of five different sculptures, and what they might feel when they are being gawked at by people who have little time to truly see them, only to admire their beauty with fleeting glances, and “What a Movie!” from Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti,” is, in the context of the opera, a piece about an unhappy woman’s escape into one of America’s most popular art forms, film.

The entire process of planning, organizing, researching and rehearsing this concert has been painstaking and tiresome, but in the end so very enjoyable. This is a chance I have been given to truly express unbridled joy for an art-form I find practical, necessary, and essential for the survival of a truly wonderful world. Thank you to John and Jane Pack, Jeffrey and Liz Carson, Orfeas, Jun-Pierre and the Aegean Center for helping me make this concert a reality. Courage is in me! Courage, friend! And I owe a very large part of that courage to the time I have been fortunate enough to spend at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts in Paros, Greece.

Thus begins new life, and I for one cannot wait.

Carrie Cooley

Aegean Center Benefit Concert: An Update from Maria-Elena

23, January 2009 § Leave a comment


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!


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.

End of Semester Programme – Spring Session 2008

11, May 2008 § Leave a comment

Originally published in the No. 114 issue of Paros Life

2008 marks 42 years on the island of Paros and 19 years in the Tuscan town of Pistoia, Italy for the Aegean Center. Founded in Paros in 1966 as an independent, not-for-profit institution, the Aegean Center offers small group and individualized study in the visual arts, creative writing and music.

Students present their work twice a year at the end of each semester in a rich programme of art, photography, poetry and music .

Saturday, 24 May at 8pm
Apothiki Art Center, Paroikia
The Aegean Center presents a recital under the direction of Orfeas John Munsey of songs by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Finzi and Bernstein with Niki Chasapi (soprano), Apollonia Ikonomou (soprano), Joshua Warren (baritone) and Konstantina Andreakou (piano).

Wednesday, 28 May at 7:30pm
The Aegean Center, Paroikia
Reading of student poetry and prose from the creative writing class of Jeffrey Carson.

Thursday, 29 May at 8.30pm
Aghios Giorgos Catholic Church, Naoussa
The Vocal Ensemble of the Aegean Center under the direction of Orfeas John Munsey presents a concert of Medieval and twentieth century a cappella music.

Friday, 30 May from 7:30pm
The Aegean Center
Exhibition of student paintings, drawings
and photography.

Saturday, 31 May at 8:30pm
Aghios Antonios Catholic Church, Paroikia
Repeat of the Ensemble performance of 29th May.

Sunday, 1 Jun at 8:30pm
Aghios Antonios Catholic Church, Paroikia
Repeat of the Ensemble performance of 29th May.

The Vocal Ensemble will also perform a short programme at “Paros Sings”, the 1st Festival of Parian Choirs to be held at the Archilochos Hall in Paroikia on Sunday, 18 May at 8.30pm. See p4.

For additional information contact Director John Pack at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts. Tel: 22840-23287 or see

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