NEW YORK.- By VICKI YIANNIAS
With the memory of the spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the success of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games still fresh, the culture dial of New York City stays tuned to Greece, that timeless source of cultural achievement that has profoundly influenced the art and culture of our times.
The grand impression is carried on in the New York Public Library’s all-city Hellenic Festival, which will be held at various locations throughout New York City through April 2005.
A kick-off for the Festival, which officially opened on October 15, was held on the evening of Wednesday, October 13 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts where Mirrors to the Past: Ancient Greece and Avante-Garde America, one of the major Festival highlights, is on view through January 8, 2005.
This multi-media exhibition shows works by and about scores of 20th century American artists who were motivated by the works of incomparable beauty and emotional resonance created by the enlightened thinkers of the Archaic and Classical periods.
Among the guests were Andreas Dracopoulos, Director of the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, Mrs. Katherine Boura, Council General of Greece, Monika Kallan Cartazas, Foundation for Hellenic Culture, Diana Chapin, Executive Director of The Queens Library Foundation, Mr. Angelos Camillos of Kouros Gallery; Kristin Marting, Executive Director of Here Arts Center, Kristin Linklater, renowned voice teacher who will also be starring as Hecuba in Friendly Fire’s upcoming production at the Culture Project, and Stephen Petronio, New York City choreographer.
The new Ouzo Martini, icy, mysteriously light blue, and served in a giant martini glass with a floating slice of bright green lime, was a lively conversation piece that, accompanied by abundant revolving Greek delicacies, and two musicians playing Middle Eastern instruments, made for fun.
Samuel C. Butler, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New York City Public Library inaugurated the reception by expressing his gratitude for the “wonderful generosity of the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation for underwriting the Hellenic Festival, as well as for the tremendous support they have given to the Library’s digital program and to our Emergency Campaign. I would particularly like to thank Library Trustee Andreas Dracopoulos, who is on the board of the Niarchos Foundation and who joins us this evening, as well as Hildy Simmons from the Foundation, who is also here tonight”.
David Ferriero, Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries spoke next, saying that the Library of the Performing Arts and the Library of Humanities and Social Sciences at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue are “particularly involved in this event . . . the two major Festival exhibitions, Mirrors to the Past: Ancient Greece and Avante Garde America, and Avante-Garde America and Faith and Legacy: The Hellenic World from the Collections of the New York Public Library. He noted, “Importantly, we are pleased to be collaborating with the Branch Libraries in Manhattan and Queens . . .this is historic in respect to collaboration for an event like this”.
He went on to introduce Susan Kent, new Director and Chief Executive of the Branch Libraries, who also thanked the Niarchos Foundation. “Your grant has given the New York Public Library and the Queens Public Library and our branches, which are really the front porch of every single neighborhood the New York Public Library serves, the ability to share culture and information through the Hellenic Festival. We’ll have poetry readings, and music and arts, reading discussion groups — a prototype for learning about culture and sharing that information with the people that we serve. And I hope it serves to stimulate lots of new ideas, lots of conversation, and enduring interest in Hellenic culture. Thank you, Andreas, for your leadership in all this. It’s a pleasure to participate and I hope you are all enjoying coming out to not only this wonderful building, but to the Library Branches in the boroughs.”
Jacqueline Davis, The Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts said to the Greek News “we are very pleased and proud to be hosting the first of many, many events that will take place. I think this Festival has importance because it has brought together a number of organizations to look at a particular culture. It’s on the heels of the Olympics . . . It’s a reflection of how much there is to celebrate with regard to Greek culture in what is happening in the United States today. There are so many influences that are being expressed. I know, for example, that we started out with a number of arts organizations . . . people heard what we were doing. Many others came forward and said ‘We have something that relates to Greek culture and we want to be a part of it’. So we feel that we have a blockbuster for the next several months.
Consul General Mrs. Katherine Boura said to the Greek News “We are very pleased to see this exhibition and very proud that Greece and Greek culture inspire not only Greece, but the world. We are very happy that this exhibition is being held in this library and we hope that every Greek and many Americans will attend the Festival”.