My Painted Lyre: Seeing Music in Chicago’s Greektown on View along Halsted Street

CHICAGO – Greektown Chicago has opened its new outdoor art exhibit My Painted Lyre: Seeing Music in Chicago’s Greektown, with 26 vibrant three-dimensional artworks lining Halsted Street from Monroe to Van Buren Streets now through spring 2023. A map showing the locations of the artworks in Greektown is available here: https://adobe.ly/3OlQtjj.

More information is available online: www.greektownchicago.org.

A diverse group of Chicago artists is celebrating music with personal interpretations of the lyre, an ancient Greek instrument reimagined in a modern-style sculpture. The lyre speaks of music, song, poetry, and dance. It also brings to mind the heavens where the constellation Lyra appears in the northern sky. Inspirations for the 26 magnificent artworks come from multiple sources including Greek mythology, history, science, and memories of special places. My Painted Lyre is sponsored by Greektown SSA #16, the neighborhood’s business improvement district, in partnership with the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation.

The ribbon-cutting for the exhibit takes place Friday, June 30, 4 PM, at the National Hellenic Museum, 333 S. Halsted Street. Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr., the participating artists, and Greektown Chicago spokespeople are scheduled to attend.

Among the art on display is Lyrical Spirit by Arturo Barrera. According to Barrera’s artist statement, “inspired by Albin Polasek’s Spirit of Music in Grant Park, Lyrical Spirit is a celebration of music and Greek history. Spirit of Music depicts a tall, bronze, muse holding a lyre. Lyrical Spirit is an abstract approach with simplified geometric figures, representing two different people holding a lyre. The colors used are traditional Greek colors. Many people associate Greek culture with only blue and white because of their country’s flag, and Greek statues with a lack of color. However, many of the ancient Greek sculptures were originally painted colorfully. After years of harsh weather and other effects on Grecian sculptures, the polychromatic finishes fade significantly, if not fully, which gives them a white, or bland, appearance. Lyrical Spirit connects the history of the Greek palette with a celebration of Greek culture in Chicago.”

Detail views of works by Rebecca Zaragoza, Diane Thodos, James McNeill Mesplé, and Elena Diadenko for Greektown’s Lyre public art exhibit. Photo: Greektown Chicago

Chicago’s Lyre by Juan A. Cano was inspired by “love for our city and diversity in music.”

Symbolic Gestures of the Goddess by Malika Jackson honors several of the Greek Goddesses with their symbols: Aphrodite, Hera, Artemis.

Also on view, Daughter of Athena Κόρη της Αθηνάς by Mark Nelson, who said in his artist’s statement: “Angela Paterakis nurtured many student artists at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of her students become teachers and educational leaders embedded throughout the Chicago Public Schools, higher institutions and beyond. Angela’s students greatly appreciated her wisdom, compassion and commitment that often continued into their professional life long after they graduated. Her impact on the world of arts education exponentially grew as she witnessed her network of leaders energize arts in early education and expand equitable opportunities for Chicago’s inner-city kids and beyond.”

Lyrical by Diane Thodos “is inspired by the many lyrical and moving images of lyra players from classical ancient Greek pottery. The emotion and movement of the musicians shows an immediacy created centuries ago that is just as lyrical and expressive in our times.”

Along with an exciting group of professional and emerging Chicago artists, the following ten Chicagoland Greek schools are participating in the Lyre exhibit: Guardian Angel Orthodox Day School, Holy Apostles Greek School, Holy Cross Sophocles Greek School, Koraes Elementary School, Plato Academy, St. Demetrios Pythagoras Children’s Academy, St. Demetrios SOLON Greek School, St. George Greek School, St. John the Baptist Pythagoras Greek School, and St. Spyridon Plutarchos Academy.

About Greektown Chicago

Greektown is a dining, nightlife and cultural district located on the Near West Side of Chicago. A popular destination for tourists and Chicago residents alike, Greektown offers the best sampling of Greek heritage outside of Athens— from authentic restaurants, cafes and shops to the National Hellenic Museum and annual Taste of Greektown festival. Greektown Special Service Area #16 is the business improvement district for the neighborhood, administered by sole service provider the West Central Association and guided by a volunteer commission of local business owners, property owners and residents. For more information, visit www.greektownchicago.org.


Since 1821, Americans have been singing about Greeks.

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