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A Texas girl raises cash after last summer’s fires in Greece March 21, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Hellenic Light Americas.
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Child moved by damage > Catherine Leffert, 10, who has contributed to the reforestation effort in fire-ravaged Greece.

Not all donations that poured into Greece after last summer’s fires were from overseas Greeks. Some came from total strangers to the country who were moved by the tragedies suffered by so many people. Ten-year-old Catherine Leffert of Dallas, Texas, who has no Greek background at all, read about the fires in a magazine.

“She was so moved that she cried,” said her mother Carla. “She felt particularly sorry for the elderly and the children.”

So Catherine decided to do something about it. She collected money by making small gifts to sell and also went door-to-door. After six months, she had 150 dollars. Her parents Jonathan and Carla Leffert, contacted the media-led organization “Reforestation Now!” which recommended the group “Plant Your Roots in Greece” which has conducted several reforestation drives around the country.

This week Catherine has had an opportunity to see the effects of the fires up close. She and her family are on holiday in Greece, and visited Ancient Olympia, where fires devastated large areas right up to the ancient site.

“I thought it was so, so sad,” Catherine told the local press yesterday. “The trees were like dead or gone.”

The Olympic Flame for the Beijing Olympics is to be lit in a traditional ceremony at the ancient site next Monday 24th March.


Greece to be featured at the Nye Beach Gallery March 16, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Islands Aegean, Hellenic Light Americas.
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Hillside buildings at Fira, Santorini. Typical architecture on the island begins in caves and extends outward to terraces overlooking smaller islands of the volcanic crater.

Photographs of the Greek Islands and the Acropolis by Elizabeth Atly will be on exhibit at the Nye Beach Gallery and paired with a Greek wine tasting featuring Santorini wines for the gallery’s weekly wine tasting. An artist’s reception will be held at the same time, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, March 15. Nye Beach Gallery is located at 715 NW Third St. Atly’s exhibit will be on display through the month of March.

Through several vocations as a French professor, residential designer/architectural historian, and filmmaker, Atly, who recently transplanted from Portland to Newport, has avidly pursued the avocation of photography, with occasional one-artist shows and inclusion in group shows.

16-03-08_santorini.jpg  The photographs on exhibit at the Nye Beach Gallery were taken in Greece in 1996.

Santorini is the only volcanic island in the Aegean, said by locals to be the site of the sunken city of Atlantis. Prior to visiting the island, Atly considered only black and white photography, nurtured to life in the darkroom to become “art.”

On a walk through the colorful Fira neighborhood the morning after embarking from the ferry, Atly returned to her room and put away the black and white film. This show is a result of that decision.

Atly is a founding member of the For ARTSAKE Gallery, soon to be open at 258 NW Coast St. in Nye Beach. Her work and that of the nine other For ARTSAKE members will be on display at the new gallery. Watch for opening information.

The first thing you notice about Santorini is the whiteness of the buildings, all massed on the ridges of the crescent-shaped island, with green and rocky hills and fields between the villages. Just as the white shapes up close reveal a kaleidoscope mingling subtle and outrageous color, the fields reveal various phenomena. Olive trees and even prickly pear cactus grow, seemingly out of rock, and in springtime, one sees fields on rolling hills, full of what appear to be crowns of thorns. These are the starts of the grape vines from which the remarkable Santorini wines are cultivated. Training them into circular patterns on the ground protects the starts from the harsh winds that can tear through these islands.

Santorini cuisine for the traveler on a budget consists of variations of souvlaki, chicken and potatoes roasted together, Greek salads and spaghetti cooked in a thinner tomato sauce than its Italian counterpart, subtly spiced with bail. Lobster and other seafoods are plentiful, served up with orzo pasta and local seasonal vegetables; and what would a Greek meal be without olives, feta, olive oil, Greek bread, all accompanied by ouzo, or retsina, or best of all, one of the delicious Santorini wines.

For more information contact Wendy Engler at the Nye Beach Gallery at 265-3292.


From the land of the Labyrinth to New York City March 7, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Exhibitions Greece, Hellenic Light Americas.
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Minoan Crete at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York City 

06-03-08_minoan.jpg  Bull’s Head Rhyton. A spectacular vessel dating to the Late Minoan IB period (ca 1450 BC), Iraklion Archaeological Museum. More than 300 artifacts reflecting the high level of creativity of the Minoan civilization will be exhibited at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York.

A full depiction of the glory of Minoan Crete is set to travel outside Greece for the first time. In collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and archaeological museums on the island, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation is preparing to launch the “From the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 BC” exhibition at its New York-based affiliate, the Onassis Cultural Center. The exhibition, which will run March 13 to September 13, will reveal different aspects of the daily life of the so-called Minoan civilization, which derives its name from the legendary Cretan King Minos.

Onassis Foundation President Antonis Papadimitriou pointed out the importance of Minoan civilization, as Europe’s first fully developed culture, at yesterday’s press conference. “We decided to do something more edgy,” he explained, because lately the foundation’s New York exhibitions have dealt with more “mainstream” themes, such as the Athens-Sparta conflict and Alexander the Great.

“We should not forget that Crete had unfortified cities, something which we only encounter later in Europe after the 19th century,” said Papadimitriou. “At a time like today, when civilizations, religions and races get all the more intertwined, it is important to remember what it is that connects us.”

Minoan civilization is the name given to the culture that developed in Crete between 3000 and 1100 BC and which is divided into different periods (Prepalatial, Protopalatial, Neopalatial and Postpalatial). Favored by its privileged geographical position, Crete developed an extensive network of trade routes. The blossoming of trade in the first period and the ensuing wealth resulted in a well-structured palatial society, with the palaces becoming the centers of economic, religious and social life. Two types of scripts, a hieroglyphic script and Linear A, were used to facilitate economic activities.

Maria Andreadaki-Vlazaki, head of the 25th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and director of the Hania and Rethymnon archaeological museums as well as one of the exhibition curators, said the display covers all Minoan periods. It is divided into 11 thematic and chronological sections. Highlights include the “Religion and Ritual” section, which features sacred Minoan symbols (such as the Bull’s Head Rhyton), the murals section but also “Scripts and Weights” which includes Linear B tablets, clear proof of a Mycenaean presence in Crete in the final period. “Pots and Potters” features some skillfully made vases, while “Masterpieces in Stone” demonstrates a variety of stone artifacts. There are sections devoted to tools used in workshops, weaponry and cooking. Elaborate seals, jewelry and sarcophagi will also be on display.

An international day conference as well as lectures have been scheduled to take place in the context of the exhibition, which will be accompanied by a catalog and a DVD.

The Foundation has also launched a series of dramatized readings of ancient Greek texts. The first rhapsody of Homer’s “Iliad” was successfully performed at the steps of the Altar at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum recently. The next reading will re-enact ancient historian Thucydides’ famous “Melian Dialogue”, the debate between the Athenians and the residents of Melos which failed to deter the former from their hard stance. It will be held in Washington in the near future before traveling on to other US cities.

Onassis Cultural Center, Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, New York City, USA.

Related Links > www.onassis.gr

Princeton Coins a gateway to History February 27, 2008

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Alan Stahl has a lot of change on his hands, and not the kind you can cash in at any bank. The curator of Princeton University’s numismatic collection is in charge of protecting and displaying tens of thousands of coins, tokens, medals, and pieces of paper money.

The 150-year-old collection started as an assemblage of plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Stahl estimates it now contains about 80,000 items. New acquisitions in the past year have made the collection even more diverse: a donation of 2,000 ancient Chinese coins, and the purchase of more than 800 medieval Greek coins, bought for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

About a dozen university students each spend a few hours a week cataloging the coins. So far, the collection’s online system has more than 3,000 coins listed, about 1,000 coins entered in each year. For the students, cataloging the coins is an education in itself. As a junior majoring in classics, Joe has read a great deal about the ancient Romans.

But he felt a greater connection with the subject he loves last week as he held a brass coin with the image of the big-chinned Roman Emperor Nero on the front. The back showed Rome’s temple of Janus with its doors closed, a symbol that the empire was at peace.

Some of the collection’s coins are on display at Princeton’s Firestone Library, where the collection is housed. Any member of the public can also ask to see a tray with some coins, though Stahl will keep close watch to make sure coins don’t go missing. Stahl still cringes when he recalls a theft at the American Numismatic Society when he was there in the late 1980s.

Half of the collection, about 30,000 coins, comes from Princeton University archaeological work in Antioch, during the late 1930s. The dig turned up a trove of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic coins. Stahl still handles envelopes with the handwriting of the lead archeologist’s wife, who catalogued the money.

The collection includes Byzantine coins that are bent, almost in cup shapes. Some of the ancient Chinese coins are shaped like knives and keys. But for the most part, the coins are round and flat, a feature Stahl guesses might be due to functionality.

“The knife coins would sure punch a hole in your pocket or purse. I guess a square coin would be bad,” Stahl said. Kingdoms and empires, Stahl said, usually have rulers on the front of their coins, though the Byzantine Empire also used Jesus. Republics in history have avoided living people, and instead concentrated on symbols of what is valued by the state. Particularly in the past, most average people didn’t see their country’s capital and its public buildings, or the nation’s important documents. But they did see coins.

Related Links > The Princeton University Numismatic Collection > http://www.princeton.edu/rbsc/department/numismatics

Greek mythology event to be at library February 14, 2008

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Fans of Greek mythology and the “Percy Jackson and the Olympian” series are invited to “Camp Half-Blood,” from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Iowa City Public Library.

Children will divide into cabins and work with their peers, learning ancient Greek, conquering a labyrinth, practicing swordplay and archery.

Kids can arrive beginning at 1:30 p.m. The event is for children in grades third through sixth grades. To register, call 356-5200, option 6.

‘De Chirico and Greece’ is now in New York City November 7, 2007

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Exhibition of works previously shown in Athens

Giorgio de Chirico’s ‘Archaeologists,’ 1968. Along with another 35 paintings and sculptures, the work is currently on display at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York City, situated at the Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue. The exhibition is scheduled to travel to Rome next spring.

Summing up his beliefs on the creative process, Giorgio de Chirico used to say that “art is nothing more than a fatal net that captures strange moments as if they’re mysterious butterflies that escape from the innocence and routine ways of common people.” The powerful and mystical atmosphere conveyed by his work permeated the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, where an exhibition titled “Giorgio de Chirico and Greece: Voyage through Memory” opened last week. Featuring 35 metaphysical paintings and sculptures by the Italian artist that went on show in Athens at the Athinaida Cultural Center last spring, this latest exhibition runs through January 6, 2008.

The exhibition, at the Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue in downtown New York, portrays de Chirico’s close association with ancient Greece. After all, the strong Mediterranean light, mythology and Greek nature were a part of the Italian painter and sculptor’s childhood in Volos, Greece, where the artist was born in 1888 and raised.

As highlighted by de Chirico himself in autobiographical writings, he spent the first years of his life in the Land of Classicism, where his childhood adventures included playing on the beaches from which Jason and the Argonauts, in Greek mythology, embarked on their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Co-organized by the Onassis Cultural Center, the Athinaida Complex, and the Giorgio and Isa de Chirico Foundation in Rome, and curated by Takis Mavrotas, the exhibition focuses on the period between 1951 and 1978. The paintings and sculptures culled for the exhibition stem from a period of heightened maturity for the artist, when de Chirico distanced himself from the Surrealists to adopt a neoclassical, neo-romantic style. Works from this period include “View of Athens” (1970), “The Poet and the Painter” (1975), “Harmony of Loneliness” (1976), “Archaeologists” (1968) and “Prodigal Son” (1973). These works are based on mystery and dreams.

This exhibition, which sheds light on Hellenism’s universal aesthetics, is not only aimed at the considerable Greek-American community, which supports such initiatives without fail, as was made clear at the opening of “Giorgio de Chirico and Greece: Voyage through Memory.” The Onassis Cultural Center’s major objective is to continue increasing its impact on the American public as a whole.

The Onassis Cultural Center is located in the Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, with entrances on 51 and 52 Streets. Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis in concert for homeless benefit October 31, 2007

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Singer and songwriter Natalie Merchant, bluesman Sam McClain and Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis are among the artists scheduled to perform at the Give US Your Poor Concert. The November 16 event will mark the grand re-opening of the Strand Theatre in Boston and will benefit the city’s homeless.

Besides musical performances, the evening’s events include a show of portraits of the homeless by photographer Lynn Blodgett, compelling stories, video messages and a spoken word reading by poet Julia Dinsmore.

The show will also feature some of the formerly homeless musicians featured on the benefit CD, Give US Your Poor, which includes performances by Bruce Springsteen, Merchant, Jon Bon Jovi with McClain, Bonnie Raitt, Madeleine Peyroux, Jewel and others. Proceeds from the album will benefit the national awareness/action campaign, Give US Your Poor, an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston. The CD will be made available to local and national homeless organizations to sell to raise money and awareness.

Tickets for the benefit show are available at www.ticketweb.com