NEW YORK – Greek-American artist Peter D. Gerakaris with roots in Crete has been selected for the 2021 EcoArt Project Award & Exhibit, an honorarium prize awarded to five artists whose work focuses on environmental themes. This award culminates in a gallery exhibit on view April 15-27, entitled Earth Day Initiative 2021, at 7 East 14th Street near Union Square in Manhattan. The exhibition is free and open to the public, 4-8 PM.
The project is also part of Rebound-NYC and Earth Day Experience programming. In celebration of Earth Day 2021, artists create impactful experiences that investigate the state of our environment. The pop-ups engage artists working in visual and performing arts to present work with environmental themes, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and recycling.
The exhibition features new pieces by artists including Gerakaris, Cicely Carew, Stephen Mallon, Sam Nester, and Hara Woltz, whose works visualize the fragility of our planet and imagine sustainable futures. More information on the exhibition is available online: https://www.ecoartproject.org/earth-day-2021-call.
Gerakaris is an interdisciplinary artist whose kaleidoscopic paintings, public installations, and origami sculptures engage nature through the lens of culture. His artworks have been collected and commissioned by various permanent institutional collections including the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the New York City Department of Education Public Art for Public Schools, U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program in Gabon, Africa), Citibank and many more. Having exhibited around the world from the Bronx Museum to the Mykonos Biennale, Gerakaris has also created works now found in a spectrum of private collections such as Beth Rudin DeWoody and the William Lim Living Collection (Hong Kong). Gerakaris has also been commissioned to create many public, site-specific installations for Bergdorf Goodman, Cornell Tech, The Surrey Hotel, and the Warwick Hotel Bahamas. He recently completed a 116 foot permanent public commission at PS101 in Brooklyn awarded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program.
Gerakaris spoke with The National Herald about the EcoArt Project, his roots in Crete, and his upcoming projects.
TNH: How does it feel to be included in the EcoArt Project?
Peter Gerakaris: It’s a genuine privilege to show alongside such compelling artist-peers! Since Nature-Culture motifs have formed the core of my work for years, I couldn’t think of a more perfect platform for placing nature-themed art on center stage.
TNH: Did you always want to be an artist?
PG: Being an artist is the sort of thing that chooses you, not the other way around. As I’ve said as an alumnus volunteer-advisor at Cornell, “no one in his or her right mind would ever ‘choose’ a career in art!” However, I realized long ago I’d be miserable doing anything else, plus there’s no going back once you become your own boss!
TNH: Where in Greece is the family from originally?
PG: Crete! We have deep roots in the village of Prines (outside Rethymno) now eponymous with Ancient Eleutherna, the archaeological site with ties to the Minoan era that Prines overlooks. The family home for generations sat atop the acropolis. Meanwhile, YiaYia’s side comes from bucolic Fournes, near Chania. Having visited both, I was moved by how people have lived in harmony with nature for millennia. I feel connected to this continuum as an amateur gardener who loves being outdoors.
TNH: How has the family reacted to your success?
PG: My parents Mary and Dimitri are both artists who've always been an enormous source of inspiration and love – especially their enlightened encouragement to, “do what you love, and you’ll do it better than anything else.” Of course my father would always remind me, “Peter, you’re only as good as your last work.”
TNH: What are you working on next?
PG: Fortunately, I have a full plate of various private commissions, including a botanical tondo project in LA and two large-scale paintings I’m creating site-specifically for a ravishing estate in Maryland. In total contrast, I’ll have a 1×1 inch Micro Pygmy Owl Icon at the Museum of Art & Design as part of Joanna Strassburg Fisher’s Palazzo Gritti Dollhouse, opening May 9th. Also launching in May at the National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson, WY) is “Un/Natural Selections”, an exhibit that includes my 7×7 foot “Caravan (Owl)” painting from the Museum’s permanent collection (the exhibit goes on national tour in 2022). Meanwhile, it's a thrill to be creating my first outdoor Neo-Byzantine mosaic installation (featuring the endangered Spotted Owl) for an exhibit curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody, opening this June at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge, MA.
More information is available online: http://www.petergerakaris.com.
Follow on Instagram: @petergerakaris.