An art exhibition was held Sunday, April 21 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Whitestone, New York. But it was no ordinary art show — this one had a purpose of helping to introduce Greek art to a new, younger audience.
Artists Marianthi Raptis and Matina Botoulas have had numerous exhibitions in New York City. However, their dearest wish is to leave something to the next generation of Greek-Americans. “We want Greek art and culture transmitted to the next generation,” explained both the artists.
“I worked 30 years as a textile designer and colorist for home furnishings and wallpapers in NYC,” explained Marianthi Raptis. “I find great pleasure in expressing myself in art, painting different subjects. Landscapes, portraits, and flower painting are my enjoyment at this time of my life.”
Many of the paintings on exhibit portray idyllic scenes of the Greek countryside and the whitewashed buildings of Greek villages. One depicts a scene of a typical Greek bakery. Yet another portrays the vibrant red poppies of Greece as they first open to the sun.
There are also faithful representations of traditional Greek costumes and farming scenes of years gone by.
Describing her budding art career, Matina Botoulas says, “I am entering a road I never dreamed.”
The painter, a Greek native who lives in Flushing, New York, relates “I loved drawing from a young girl in Angelona, Laconia, Greece. I married my husband, Nick Botoulas of Tripolis, Greece. We immigrated to the US, raising our daughters Marilene and Georgia, while pursuing careers. At sixty-five, I began a career as an artist. I am inspired by my environment,” she says.
“My daughters inspired me with a gift of artist supplies. I began expressing in art my impressions of my surroundings.” she added.
Americans in general are not shy about entering new careers, regardless of age. In addition, retirement can be a time in which creative impulses can finally take flight and be fully explored.
The innovative paintings of both Greek-American artists show that not only can one find fulfillment in this creative pursuit later in life, but their artworks, showing scenes from bygone days in Greek history, can serve as a link to the next generation.
Marianthi Raptis and Matina Botoulas are the unsung artists whose colorful and joyous works remind the younger generation of the beautiful land their forefathers left behind.
All Photos by Marilena Botoulas