Left to right: Exhibit curator Philip Rausch, artist Barbara Spyrou, Presbytera Maria Courey, Fr. Michael Courey, artist Rosalind Farmans Halikis, artist Angelica Sotiriou and artist Barbara Lambase Menzelos. Not shown: Georgia Linde and the late Argyro Yiakas †. (Photo: Allen Altchech Photography)
REDONDO BEACH, CA – The Saint Katherine Foundation held their inaugural event, Art@Dark, on December 2 at Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church and Community Center in Redondo Beach. A resounding success, the event captivated attendees with its impressive display of art, delectable food, and lively community atmosphere. The exhibit showcased the immense talent of artists Angelica Sotiriou, Rosalind Farmans Halikis, Barbara Menzelos, Georgia Linde, and Barbara Spyrou, while also honoring the late and beloved Argyro Yiakas.
Over 200 art enthusiasts gathered for the first Art@Dark showcasing an array of paintings of the varied and eclectic talents of the participating artists. “For our first event, we honored the women artists of the St. Katherine community who exemplify the Greek Orthodox faith both through their spirit and works of art,” commented Fr. Michael Courey who is also a prolific artist and the inspiration behind Art@Dark, adding that “the community received their work with a resounding welcome!”
The exhibit was impeccably curated under the expertise of committee member Philip Rausch. Melanie Revels O’Regan, commendably assumed the role of event chair. The exceptional team further comprised Alexia Haidos Itzigsohn (co-chair), Nick Halikis (Foundation President), Chris Caras, Craig Brothers, Rosalind Halikis, Tony Kostas, Marsha Mansour, Fr. Courey, and Fr. Peter Dogias, whose collective efforts contributed to the exhibitions’ success.
Angelica Sotiriou holds a Masters of Arts degree and a Masters of Fine Arts degree graduating Cum Laude from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has been exhibiting her art and teaching art in Los Angeles and the greater communities of California for over four decades. She has worked as a sculptor, creating narrative figurative bas-reliefs and currently she is creating large “contemplative narrative” acrylic paintings. Her works are in private and public collections of various individuals and organizations and has exhibited her works in various.
Barbara Menzelos, a freelance illustrator with a background in figure drawing, attended UCLA and graduated from Art Center, Pasadena. She is currently exploring new avenues of expression in her captivating paintings and has worked as a freelance illustrator for both editorial and advertising companies including: Simon and Schuster, Harpers San Francisco, The Writers Guild, Scholastic, Sears, L.A. Weekly, and the L.A. Times. She also taught figure drawing for Saturday High Students at Art Center, Pasadena.
Rosalind Farmans Halikis began painting in the seventh grade and started to take drawing classes in her 20s. Fr. Courey was instrumental in her finding her style, and she credits her nephew, Spencer Farmans, a poet and writer, for encouraging her to display her art to the public. Some of her pieces are inspired from visits to the island of Kastellorizo with their distinct island imagery and vibrant colors.
Barbara Spyrou was born and raised on the island of Cyprus. After completing Elementary School, she attended the Pancyprian Gymnasium where she was fortunate to have two exceptional art teachers Telemahos Kanthos and Adamandios Diamandis. Both of these instructors were widely recognized as the most influential painters on the island, and their expertise served as a significant source of inspiration for her artistic pursuits. Upon arriving in the United States, she continued her passion for painting by enrolling in classes, eventually, she made the decision to pursue Painting and Drawing full-time at California State University, Long Beach. She successfully graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing.
Georgia Linde, who is 92 years old, was unable to attend the evening’s festivities but was represented by her daughter Jan Chilimidos. In 1964, Linde’s daughter Darin was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) which ended up being a lifelong challenging disease; subsequently Georgia focused all of her time on her care which ended up being many years spent at Children Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA). She met another mother at CHLA who happened to be a well-known art teacher in the San Fernando Valley; the two of them became very close friends (and still are) and Georgia began painting again while attending her classes. The distinctive style of her artwork is reflective of her personal journey which provided a therapeutic refuge giving viewers a glimpse into the depth of her emotions and artistic soul.
Argyro Yiakas of blessed memory never attempted anything artistic in her youth. She picked up a paintbrush for the first time well into her 60s as a hobby, and soon discovered she had talent for painting that she never imagined. To Argyro, art was another way to express joy, and it was a calming endeavor to her as well. She learned that working with the brushes and the colors soothed her mind and brought her peace, and her worries faded away while painting.
In addition to the art exhibited, attendees were treated to a delightful spread of food lovingly created and prepared by Fr. Peter Dogias, his Presbytera Dimitra, Tony Kostas, and Thanasi Roumanis. A charcuterie table was also meticulously prepared by Chrysa Brothers and Presbytera’s homemade mini pumpkin pies along with bite-sized Greek pastries added to the evening’s sweetness. Libations were presented in stemless glasses adorned with the distinctive Art@Dark logo and December 2, 2023, the date of the event, serving as a memento for guests to take home as party favors.
The vibrant atmosphere was further enhanced by the Promenade String Quartet, which provided live entertainment throughout the evening. Attendees reveled in the opportunity to mingle and freely roam to visit with friends and view the art contributing to the energetic ambiance.
The exhibit is the first of an annual series promoting the arts and humanities, which was made possible by a generous $50,000 endowment given by Rosalind Farmans Halikis, one of the featured artists. She is a St. Katherine treasure and her spirit, dedication and generosity are truly remarkable.
Upcoming Art@Dark events will aim to continue to celebrate the rich artistic talents within the community and beyond providing a platform for artists, musicians and more to showcase their work to a wider audience.
The first Art@Dark truly shone. It was a night to remember, filled with joy, creativity, and a sense of community.
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