Butterfly art flutters into Greektown!
We are proud to present our new outdoor art exhibit – a kaleidoscope of butterflies titled The Dance of Psyche with 26 vibrant three-dimensional sculptures that showcase the creativity of 13 professional or emerging artists, 2 Chicagoland high schools and 11 local Greek language schools. This colorful mix of works will be presented at Elysian Field (401 S Halsted St) for an official ribbon-cutting on Friday, June 2 and then moved throughout the neighborhood to line Halsted Street from Monroe to Van Buren Streets. The exhibit will run through Spring 2024.
The project is rooted in Greek culture, mythology and geography. Psyche is the goddess of the soul; Aristotle gave the butterfly the name “psyche” (the Greek word for soul); and the Greek island of Rhodes is famous for its Butterfly Valley (Petaloudes), a lush nature preserve.
“Most everywhere in the world the butterfly symbolizes beauty and grace,” says Greektown SSA #16 Commissioner and Arts Committee Chair Eve Moran, “and this delicate creature carries a deeply spiritual meaning in many different cultures. We’re sure this butterfly art display will enchant both children and adults as they walk through Greektown for the enjoyment of dinner, drinks or other treats.”
The Dance of Psyche is sponsored by Greektown SSA #16, the neighborhood’s business improvement district, in partnership with the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation. Through this association, eleven Chicago-area Greek schools are participating in the Psyche 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, St. Nectarios Day School and St. Spyridon Plutarchos Academy.
This year, the Greektown SSA #16 Arts Committee has also invited students from two local high schools to participate in this project. Art students from Argo Community High School (Summit, IL) will contribute with a mosaic piece. Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, graduated from Argo and was the inspiration behind the recently unveiled monument by sculptor Sonja Henderson honoring Mamie Till-Mobley; the piece fittingly features butterflies in the design. Additionally, students and teachers from Holy Trinity High School attended an event in tribute to Till-Mobley, and thus are contributing to the Dance of Psyche with a sculpture painted by their entire senior class.
More details on the exhibit can be found at greektownchicago.org.
Title of Psyche Artworks & Artist Statements
Urban Butterflies by Juan Cano
Inspiration: The piece was inspired by a variety of butterflies. Many that I have seen in the past throughout the city in different garden settings.
Artist Bio: Juan A. Cano is a contemporary graffiti artist from Logan Square. He is well-known for his “shattered glass” style. Cano participates in several art exhibitions each year, and is an art philanthropist to charitable causes. He especially enjoys working on public art projects. Instagram: @Juan_A_Cano
Sweet Anna by Bonnie Loboda with Christopher Nosal
Inspiration: My grandson, Christopher, saw the sculpture and asked if he could sketch a design for the butterfly wings. His interesting work inspired my painting. And, I further wanted the butterfly to rest upon soft, gentle and nourishing flowers. I hope that Sweet Anna enjoys the colorful environment I created for her.
Artist Bio: Bonnie Loboda began painting as a young child in Poland. Soon after, she learned to embroider and was creating intricate pieces for export. Art remained her passion even after she moved to Chicago in 1994. Over the years, Loboda has stretched her imagination and taught herself new techniques. Today, she paints on glass, canvas, wood, walls and more. Many times Loboda works well into the night shaping and re-shaping each new artwork.
Hazel Happiness by Arlene Turner-Crawford with Latoya Bellazer
Inspiration: My granddaughter Latroya helped me with this project by suggesting I use some fun designs and helping me to pick some of the colors. She also painted the base and filled in the color for the symbols. I asked her what should we name the piece and she said “Hazel”, because that is one of her favorite names. I added the Happiness and she said “YES”.
Artist Bio: Arlene Turner‑Crawford works in the media of drawing, painting, printmaking, and Graphic illustration. She defines herself as a Visual Artist, Curator, Educator, Muralist & Cultural Activist. In her journey she became a Classroom teacher, University Administrator, Faculty & Student Affairs, Unit Head; Grants Developer & Institution builder; Collaborator, and Mentor. “To me, art is ritual, an attempt to interpret higher expressions of life. As an image-maker, my work is expressed through both realistic and symbolic forms. My images are created through the manipulation of form, design, color, collage, and assemblage.”
I See Psyche by Victoria Martin
Inspiration: My inspiration comes from the Spiritual Study Groups I attend. The Theosophical Society, National Council for Geocosmic Research, Friends of Astrology, and Anthroposophy are educational and mystical. Also the Pantone color of the year 2023, i.e., Viva Magenta, is a good omen for accelerated cultural activity!
Artist Bio: Victoria Martin is a large-scale mystical painter. She combines symbols from new science with illustrations of ancient magical texts. (FYI some of those prayers really work!). She also teaches art as a spiritual praxis at workshops and events. Martin holds a BA in Art Education and an MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago.
Psyche and Eros by James Mesplé
Inspiration: Psyche begins her metamorphosis into a butterfly. The butterfly is an ancient symbol of the soul. Psyche as a symbol for the Soul looks backward to the past and forward to the possibility of reincarnation into a future life.
Artist Bio: James McNeill Mesplé’s art focuses on classically-inspired images viewed through the lens of contemporary life. As a child, Mesplé was told stories by his maternal grandfather, drawn from his Osage (Native American) heritage. These other-worldly narratives sparked an interest in Classical Greek myths because both cultures are animistic, seeing Spirit not only in animals and flowers, but in all aspects of life on Earth (Gaia). For 10 years, Mesple taught art at Francis W. Parker school and also spent 10 years teaching at the School of the Art Institute studio program. And he plays the flute. Mesple was represented for over thirty years by Printworks Gallery in Chicago and is currently with Jackson/Junge Gallery.
The God of Rainbow Butterflies by Molly McGrath
Inspiration: I chose dandelions, red roses, sunny sunflowers, and purple coneflowers because they are my favorite. I painted the butterflies in rainbow colors because rainbows are magical.
Artist Bio: Molly McGrath has an extensive body of work: collages, children’s (and other) album covers, drawings of Chicago transit system signs, fiber art, painted bottles, portraits of dolls–and Sesame Street memorabilia. Her work directly responds to her environment, with her everyday experiences becoming a starting point. McGrath is an artist at “Project Onward,” a nonprofit studio and gallery in Chicago dedicated to the career development of visual artists with mental and developmental disabilities. Learn more at projectonward.org.
Antikythera by Mark Nelson
Inspiration: I chose the theme of the oldest known mechanical computer(4000 years old) discovered in an Ancient Greek ship off the coast of the Greek Island Antikythera. This analog computer was used by ancient Greeks for navigation and calculated predictions of astrological alignments, eclipses, phases of the moon and positioning of five planets.
Artist Bio: Mark Nelson was raised in a Navy family, and so began his formal arts education in the Republic of Panama where he was mentored in painting and live theater. On return to the continental USA, Nelson studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a BFA and received a MFA at the University of Illinois in Chicago. His artwork can be found in private and public collections, including a mural at the US Embassy, Republic of Panama. Nelson was awarded many grants and fellowships as an artist and educator from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs-Office of Fine Arts, Illinois Arts Council, the Golden Apple Foundation, and the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. A resident of Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood and arts community, his Gringolandia Studio and home is open annually to the public in participation with the 18th Street Pilsen Open Studios.
Herself a Majestic Butterfly by Patricia Owsiany
Inspiration: Psyche is the Greek God of the soul, she is symbolized by butterfly wings. She became a goddess after her marriage to Eros, the god of desire. I see her inhabiting a beautiful Lily pond in the valley of the butterflies, amongst many of her kind.
Artist Bio: Patricia Owsiany earned a BA in Fine Arts at Southern Illinois University. She has participated in many shows in Chicago and New York City. Her last solo exhibit was a mini retrospective at Space 900 in Evanston. She was born in Chicago and continues to live and create in the city.
Apollopsychē Melitaea by Terry Poulos
Inspiration: A conjunction of the Apollos butterfly species, the Greek god Apollo, Psychē the Greek goddess of the soul, and the butterfly species Melitaea cinxia
Artist Bio: Terry Poulos is a writer, artist, archaeological historian, fractal geometer, and more generally autodidact scientific investigator. Two of his sculptures have been exhibited at the National Hellenic Museum (NHM), and his Net Zero Coin numismatic is in the permanent collection of the British Museum and NHM. His works can be seen at Scientiquity.com
Additional Narrative: The sculpture encapsulates the butterfly as a symbol for the union of male/female, as containing the soul of humanity (a common theme in butterfly mythology), and the fractal nature of life. When Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) caterpillars were introduced to the island of Sottunga in the Åland archipelago, it unexpectedly resulted in three additional species, “which sprang out of the butterfly like Russian dolls,” according to Atlas Obscura. This is the essence of fractal geometric series iteration and ‘the many from the one’ paradigm of Standard Model Big Bang cosmology. Furthermore, the female butterfly of the Queen Alexandria species features hindwings with triangular patterns, and as such the sculpture depicts the artist’s very own proprietary Sierpinsky triangles, another ode to fractal geometry. Lastly, the physics of butterfly flight emanates from – among a variety of mechanisms – its aerodynamics which are generated by force via wake capture, vortices at the wing edge, and rotational dynamics. Hence, the artist filled his sculpture throughout with images of spiral fractal repeating geometric sequences.
Pink, Light Blue, and Undefined by PERCENT
Inspiration: A social introspection referencing notions of flags, color fields, and molting.
Artist Bio: PERCENT is a group of artists who are somewhat Asian. Their work is strictly collaborative—no piece created by an individual can bear the collective’s name. Their approach is an attempt to acknowledge the falsehood of purity.
Weiner Werkstatte Butterfly by Diane Thodos
Inspiration: My butterfly has designs based on the artistic fabric patterns of the Viennese Art Nouveau movement that happened in the early 20th century. This dynamic, creative movement celebrated a new decorative spontaneous spirit that often combined abstraction with motifs from nature.
Artist Bio: Diane Thodos is a Chicago-based artist with a 40-year career in painting and printmaking that emphasizes both abstract expressionism and German expressionism. This comes from her study with Jackson Pollock’s teacher Stanley William Hayter in 1984, and study of the Speck’s German Expressionist print collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum over a 20 year period. Diane’s work combines figure and abstraction to create a fertile ground for ever-new compositional and emotionally expressive possibilities. She is a 2002 Pollack-Krasner Grant recipient, has exhibited internationally, and has work in the collections of the Milwaukee Museum of Art, The David and Alfred Smart Museum, the State of Illinois Museum in Chicago, The Illinois Holocaust Museum and The Block Museum of Northwestern University, among many others. dianethodos.com
Undercurrents by Chuck Walker
Inspiration: Idea of loves double edge nature …beauty and grace simultaneous with the ferocity of jealousy’s capacity to destroy or save us.
Artist Bio: Chuck Walker is a Chicago artist whose landscape, figurative and still life paintings are each, in some way, haunting and mysterious. His work has been exhibited at numerous venues, including the Rockford Art Museum; Hyde Park Art Center; Chicago Cultural Center; Chicago Botanic Garden; Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art; and, Evanston Art Center. And Walker’s work is included in various private and public collections. Walker attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Petalouda Sophia by Kiki Whitehead
Inspiration: Petalouda is the Greek word for butterfly and is correlated to Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul. This piece is dedicated to my Nouna (godmother) Sophia. There was never a kinder gentler soul that walked this earth. Sophia made her way to heaven during the making of this project. One thing is for certain the angels have met their match for she is putting all of them to shame. Rest in love my sweet Nouna.
Artist Bio: Kiki Whitehead is a first generation Greek-American. Her parents immigrated to Canada before coming to the United States. She is most recently recognized as the National Chairman of the United Hellenic Voters of America (UHVA), a non-partisan political organization representing the Greek American community where she resides over an Executive Board. Kiki illustrated two children’s book “How Does My Mama Know?” and “Ollie Under It.” With a book of her own on the way, Kiki hopes to continue this work into her twilight years. She is currently the Marketing Director for Olympik Signs, Inc., one of the largest sign companies in the Chicago area. But her greatest achievement will always be her beautiful blended family.
Seeds of Hope by Art Students at Argo Community H.S.
Inspiration: Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Memorial, Argo Senior Legacy Mosaic Mural
School Art Educators: Alexa Edwards & Lisa Garrett
The HT Way by Senior Class of 2023, Holy Trinity High School
Inspiration: Seniors at Holy Trinity immortalized their four years of high school through this sculpture; each of the 80 seniors participated in making this art come to life.
School Educator: Marie Kalas
Post #2: Greektown values learning
Summary text for newsletter blurb:
Read about our neighborhood’s robust educational programs for history and culture!
Main text for blog post:
Our Greektown neighborhood is often touted for its wonderful food scene. While this is indeed true, another unique offering of our Hellenic hotspot is that we are a hub for education and learning!
The neighborhood’s robust educational programs include historical and cultural spots like the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation, National Hellenic Museum and the Hellenic Research Center. All these organizations are located in our neighborhood and are integrated in the community’s rich history and heritage. They are great places for visitors to come to Greektown and learn about Hellenic culture while grabbing a bite of authentic Greek cuisine!
Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, the mission is to support Greek language educational and cultural initiatives through the introduction of technology to enhance the learning experience for Greek American youth.
The National Hellenic Museum is dedicated to connecting generations to the legacy of Greek culture and history and the Greek story in America. The Museum preserves and portrays Greek history and the Hellenic legacy, sparking inquiry and discussion about the broader issues in our lives and communities through educational classes, exhibitions, and programs.
The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center is a historical society and a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization whose goal as a research center—unique in its kind—is to document and disseminate information about the Greek communities of the later Ottoman empire and study the expulsion of expulsion of the Greeks from their ancestral homelands in Asia Minor (or Anatolia), Eastern Thrace, and Pontos.
Beyond Hellenic-specific education, Greektown also has multiple early-childhood schools for learning including the Goddard School, Ladybug & Friends Daycare and Preschool and Kids STEM Studio.
Greektown clearly values learning! Check out our educational programs during your next visit.Butterfly art flutters into Greektown!