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Culture

Chicago’s Greektown Outdoor Exhibit Features ‘Fanciful Fish’

CHICAGO – Chicago’s Greektown offers a safe art exhibition for all ages “from Van Buren to Monroe streets,” with “nearly two dozen fish sculptures standing five feet tall” along Halsted Street, WTTW News reported on March 22.

“The works are part of the community’s ‘Fanciful Fish’ outdoor exhibit,” WTTW reported, adding that “every winter, Greektown’s Special Service Area (SSA) installs an outdoor exhibit. This year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the project has new meaning.”

“I think it had a lot of relevance because people could not go to art galleries,” Eve Moran, a commissioner for the SSA and chair of the Greektown Arts Committee, told WTTW. “People couldn’t go to museums and… there were these ebbs and flows of what was open and what wasn’t open, and here was a safe outdoor way for people to enjoy the art and be uplifted.”

Moran said that “fish sculptures were chosen because children could easily identify them,” WTTW reported.

“Fish were also part of the ancient diet in Greece, because Greece is a country surrounded by waters,” Moran told WTTW.

“Professional and emerging Chicago artists painted the sculptures, a process that began last spring during the state’s stay-at-home order,” WTTW reported, adding that “some artists centered their works around Greek mythology, while others pulled from current issues, like water conservation and the pandemic.”

“Six Greek schools also painted sculptures for the exhibit,” WTTW reported.

“Usually, my Greek school, we do it all as a school,” Nikoletta Rentzelos, a seventh grader at Coonley Elementary School told WTTW. “But this year, sadly, because of COVID, we couldn’t all be together, so I was selected to paint it.”

Rentzelos “painted the word ‘love’ in more than two dozen languages on the sculpture,” WTTW reported.

“I really wanted to spread a message of love, and now in quarantine, it’s really hard to remember and to find joy and stuff,” Rentzelos told WTTW.

“Many of the sculptures sit outside Greektown restaurants- an essential area business that has been hard hit by the pandemic, especially without tourism to the area,” WTTW reported, noting that “artists hope the exhibit can help bring more patrons back.”

“I’d love to see more people coming back to Greektown. I’d love to see them joining us in ordering take out,” said Kiki Whitehead, artist of the sculpture named “ΑΓΑΠΗ,” which means love in Greek, WTTW reported.

“Owner of Nine Muses and Meli Cafe, Yianni Theoharis, welcomes the artworks,” WTTW reported, adding that “he also hopes the exhibit brings more foot traffic — and business — to the area.”

“It’s beautiful, you know. Don’t forget. Greeks introduced the art,” Theoharis told WTTW. “We suffered a lot, the restaurants everywhere, not only in Illinois, everywhere, so we appreciate whatever can be done to bring more people down.”

The Fanciful Fish exhibit is on view in Greektown through the end of April.

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