NEW YORK – An introduction to ARCAthens (Artist Residency Center Athens) was held on February 27 under the auspices of the Consulate General of Greece in New York at the Consul General’s residence in Manhattan.
The non-profit organization is dedicated to hosting visual artists and curators from all parts of the world to live and create in Athens, Greece—thereby facilitating a diverse influx of expression, production, and learning in a city brimming with creative energy.
The Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras in his brief welcoming remarks noted it was “a great honor and a huge privilege that you are with us tonight for the soft launch of this wonderful initiative related to the culture and to Greece.” He then introduced ARCAthens Founder and Executive Director Aristides Logothetis who thanked the Consul General and his wife Popita Pavli and everyone in attendance.
Mr. Logothetis spoke about ARCAthens, noting that “the last few years have been difficult for Greece, the economic austerity has made a lot of us in the diaspora feel a kinship and a desire to do anything we can do to help, the Greek community has reached out from corporate initiatives to philanthropic, the Church has done a lot even on the individual level, the community has responded.”
Logothetis noted the wonderful artistic activity going on in Athens and the “world is watching.” The oft-repeated “Athens is the new Berlin,” he said, has become a cliche, adding that the BBC last May declared that “‘Athens is the new Athens,’ reminding us that Athens used to be the standard that other cities aspired to.”
“We’ve got the world’s attention,” Logothetis said, “and there is a lot going on in the arts, what’s missing is a good artist residency center that fully supports its artists. We at ARCAthens aim to bring 12 fellows a year for 3 months give them a live-work space, help them with their travel, give them a modest stipend, give them everything they need to create. Artists may not have a lot of economic power, but they do have cultural power. Artists are influencers and throughout history they have had the ear of those with economic power and are usually behind a lot of the progress in society. We know this, ARCAthens recognizes this, this is why we are reaching out to the artists we want to bring them to Athens, we want the Athenian community to learn from them, 3 months is a significant stay, a lot can happen. The artists will learn a lot from the Athenians as well, so there is going to be a cross-pollination of knowledge and activity, that’s what we aim to do.”
Logothetis is a visual artist who has attended many residencies in his career and he noted the value of such programs for the artists as well as the communities where they take place. He also observed that Philoxenia, the ancient and fundamental Greek cultural tradition of hospitality and kindness to strangers, makes Athens ideal for hosting artists.
“ARCAthens will facilitate the creation of important works in Athens, stimulate economic activity, contribute to the revitalization of the neglected center, and create art, ideas, and relationships whose impact will continue long after our Fellows return home bringing their work, experience and knowledge of Athens to all parts of the world, acting as cultural ambassadors of Hellenism and the ideals encapsulated in our program.”
The attendees at the introduction to ARCAthens at the residence of the Consul General of Greece in New York. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
Keynote speaker and ARCAthens Board Member Dan Cameron noted two phrases that he came across this year that resonated with him “‘not everyone who wanders is lost’ in terms of the journey of the artist” and “a phrase that dominated the Documenta this year [held simultaneously in Kassel and Athens] and… was inscribed in four different languages ‘I was a stranger and you took me in’ and this is why ARCAthens is so important, all of us wander but in the end, as Odysseus found out, the ultimate destination is home, and for all artists, Athens is home, this is where our heritage begins.”
Among those present at the event were Fr. Alexander Karloutsos, Amalia Cosmetatou- Executive Director and Cultural Director of the Onassis Foundation USA, Marilena and Aris Christodoulou, Nancy Papaioannou- Atlantic Bank President, Lou Katsos- EMBCA Founder and President, Paul Lountzis- founder of Lountzis Asset Management, and his wife Kelly, and Dora Trogadi- Press Attache for the Press and Communication Office of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, as well as the ARCAthens Board Members, including Zesty Myers- Treasurer, the Advisory Council including- Hakan Topal and Anthony Meyers, and Hosting Committee- Chryssa Avrami, Beatrice Dupire, George Negroponte, Roda Plakogianni, and Georgia Siampalioti.
More information is available online at: arcathens.org.
The attendees at the ARCAthens event at the residence of the Consul General of Greece in New York. Photo by Eleni Sakellis