NEW YORK – Greek-American artist Peter D. Gerakaris shared his latest news with The National Herald concerning his Neo-Byzantine Spotted Owl Mosaic site-specific installation at the Berkshire Botanical Garden (BBG), 5 West Stockbridge Road in Stockbridge, MA. Translated into mosaic by Miotto Mosaic Art Studios, the installation is part of the Taking Flight outdoor sculpture exhibition curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody. The exhibition runs through October 31.
Gerakaris told TNH, “safe to say it has become a personal milestone project and I feel so fortunate to have collaborated with one of the best mosaicists in the country; not to mention, we're receiving tremendous feedback and favorable press.”
The Spotted Owl Mosaic project was made possible through a generous grant from the BBG Board of Trustees. Gerakaris noted that he was also the first artist BBG ever awarded a grant to in order to help realize the installation.
Greek-American artist Peter D. Gerakaris’ Spotted Owl Mosaic site-specific installation at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Photo: Peter D. Gerakaris
“I'm now really excited to see what creativity the BBG's gardeners unleash around the installation since my original vision is for vines, plants to start growing in and around the work to soften the edges of the stucco ‘ruins’ wall, for a full ‘garden folly’ effect… not unlike something we'd see at a Greek archaeological site,” he told TNH.
Gerakaris and the installation were featured in an article by Kate Abbott in By the Way Berkshires (BTWB) and the Hill Country Observer about the exhibition which noted that he “is drawing on his own Greek heritage in a bright new work like a WPA mural or a fresco painted in fresh plaster — but this is a mosaic in glass tile. It is one of the few ways to work in color outdoors, he said, in a form that will last.”
Gerakaris’ previous works include monumental murals in non-weather-proof media, and the Spotted Owl Mosaic project is “his first move into sculpture,” BTWB reported, adding that he worked “with one of the top mosaic artists in the country, Stephen Miotto, and his Miotto Mosaic Art Studios in Carmel, NY, and Friuli in northeastern Italy.”
Gerakaris told BTWB, “it feels like a dream,” seeing his work in a new form and an outdoor setting, adding that “he remembers coming here as a boy, growing up in New Hampshire.”
Greek-American artist Peter D. Gerakaris and curator Beth Rudin DeWoody at the opening of the Taking Flight outdoor sculpture exhibition at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Photo by Naz Roudiani
Based on Gerakaris’ series of paintings in the style of Byzantine icons, Spotted Owl Mosaic also draws on the Byzantine tradition of mosaic. He told BTWB that “he thinks of the walls of Aghia Sophia that have survived centuries” and having “seen many mosaics in Italy studying abroad and on his ancestral island of Crete… having the chance to work in this historic form is humbling.”
When asked how long the project took from idea to realization, Gerakaris told TNH, “Beth suggested I create an owl-themed work when we spoke at the end of last year (2020). At that time, I had envisioned this project as a free-standing, fully 3D, site-specific sculpture clad in mosaic that would evoke the endangered Spotted Owl. Additionally, my concept was to perch the haloed owl atop a charred tree stump, signifying the destruction of this species' habitat due to mankind, forest fires, climate change, etc. However, by the time we figured out exactly how to fabricate a full sculpture in the round (and had gotten approval on the design), there simply wasn't enough time!”
Stephen Miotto, one of the top mosaic artists in the country, and Greek-American artist Peter D. Gerakaris carrying the Spotted Owl Mosaic panel. Photo by Ryan Campbell
He continued: “But this small crisis became an amazing opportunity as it forced me to pare everything down to its essence: I zeroed in on exactly what got my creative juices flowing the most by using this vibrant and sacred mosaic form to honor the endangered owls in the form of a ‘garden folly’ and wall ruins installation. At that point, we were only given the green light to execute my mosaic concept by mid-April. So the mosaic panel itself was completed (off-site in the mosaic studio) by the last day of May, then transported to the Berkshires and installed just the following week!”
Gerakaris told TNH, “I’ve totally fallen in love with the mosaic medium and process, so I am looking forward to more collaborations with Stephen Miotto's studio! I felt we had a total artistic synergy and telepathy going. And separately, I'd still love to bring that original owl sculpture concept to fruition one day.”
More information about Peter D. Gerakaris and his work is available online: https://https://www.petergerakaris.com and https://www.instagram.com/petergerakaris/.