apexart Fellowship


Anton Osver is an artist based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He will be in NYC as an apexart New York City Fellow from October 21 – November 20, 2014.

David B. Smith is a NYC-based artist who is in Dunedin, New Zealand, as an apexart International Fellow from October 1 - 31, 2014.

Posts tagged with "Michelle Rosenberg"

first day in Athens

I arrived this morning and have done a combination of napping and wandering around.
At first glance things here don’t seem too out of the ordinary (but I expect that to change):
My apartment has recognizable ikea furniture, a good Internet connection and a TV with CNN .
There are a lot of clothing & shoe stores in this area, many of which are European chain stores.
The grocery store I went to had a decent selection of organic as well as American junk food.

It’s hard to see the sky; the streets are narrow and the buildings block the view. I had been wandering for hours before I got a slim view of the Acropolis. I look forward to seeing how this view manifests itself in other parts the city.

The street names are written in both the Greek and Latin alphabet. My first task will be to master the Greek alphabet, which everyone says is easy, but still looks like potters marks to me.

day 3 - walkways

I’ve been mostly walking around. The weather is too nice to be indoors. So, with the exception of a visit to the National Archaeological Museum and enjoying the occasional frappe, I’ve been spending my time walking around.

I’ve been surprised by the variation in road widths. A road in Athens can be a walkway barely wide enough for two people side-by-side or a multi-lane street with sidewalks and room for parking. And a road can start out with multiple lanes and become a narrow walkway. My map depicts all roads, regardless of width, as a thin white line with a name. As a result, I’ve missed several roads I was looking for because I thought they were building vestibules or entrances to courtyards. It won’t be long before I walk into building vestibule thinking it is a street, because there are plenty of those, too.

The sidewalks are a patchwork of paving tiles, concrete and stone. They are a mix of patterns, materials, and colors. Perhaps some neighborhoods are more uniform and the mix and match I’ve observed only occurs in the center. I’m not sure.

day 4 - the view

A few more views of the acropolis as a back drop for every-day activities.

the view, part 2

On Saturday I climbed to the top of Lycabuettus Hill. From the top, I was convinced I could see all of Athens. I sat next to the small church for an hour trying to identify the streets and landmarks below. From here, I could see the uniformity in height of the buildings as well as a sea of balcony awnings. I suspect there is an enforced building law limiting building heights and perhaps making balconies mandatory. Along with outdoor cafes, the balconies are ubiquitous here. It’s hard not to romanticize the effect they must have on the social dynamic or vice versa.

I walked around Exarchia and noticed a lot of the older apartment buildings (some over 150 years old) were abandoned or in disrepair. Perhaps they are too expensive to renovate? Perhaps people prefer new buildings to old? Maybe it’s better if they get demolished; there is certainly no shortage of old things here. However, I feel sad that these old buildings may get torn down. Maybe I feel this way because I come from the “new world” or because the city I grew up in already destroyed it’s old buildings.

day 7 - The Acropolis of Athens

On Monday I finally made it to the acropolis. I spent most the day there reading and sketching. Today I saw a collection of nineteenth century drawings and watercolors of the acropolis at the Benaki museum. The ruins look the same, but the city has changed (and keeps changing) around it. I find it comforting that these classical structures have survived wars and changing ideas. It’s especially nice to see documentation; proof that someone who lived long ago has shared the same view as me..

day 8 - protest and animals

I left my apartment Tuesday morning to find the streets quiet and free of traffic. A real pleasure. Typically, Athens is filled w cars and motorbikes; the traffic is bad and parking is a free for all. The engines roar and on narrow streets they echo and are even louder. (Although, from far away, especially from one of Athens many hills, the buzzing sound of motorbikes is kind of pleasant.)
There was a city wide strike that day. I’m not sure much about it, if it was a general strike or not, but there was a sizable demonstration making it’s way down the street. I followed it and talked to some students that were planning a peace conference.. then the police showed up in full riot gear. I thought i was smart, i ducked into a courtyard, sat at a cafe and had a “freddo”. I watched the rest of the demonstration from the courtyard. Then I watched as people ran from the police who were using pepper spray. A cloud of pepper spray came into the courtyard and I spent the next 15 minutes coughing and tearing. I’ve been tear gassed before but never pepper sprayed. (I know it was the later because it tasted like pepper!) The effect became mild but lasted all day. The rest of the cafe patrons were annoyed and upset, but somehow not outraged.

Next, I went to the sites. Athens has a lot of stray dogs. They can be seen sleeping in the shadows of all the important monuments. I didn’t know that Athens also has stray turtles! The one i found was on the south slope of the acropolis wandering around on the ruins.

Bonus: Did you know that the great masterpieces of neo-classical architecture in Athens were designed by German architects? I find it a little strange that some of the most important commissions of the last century were not given to native architects. And a little ironic that the Germans who got the commissions replicated the classics in the birthplace of classical architecture.

Αθήνα and me

The demonstrations here continue. The Harald Tribune reported that some of the demands of the people on strike are to increase in the minimum wage from 700 to 1400 euro/month and to stop changing the pension system. My tour book also mentions the pension system as a cause of frustration here… so I assume this is an on-going struggle. Yesterday, I heard the demonstration in the morning and then in the early afternoon I saw people re-converging after lunch to continue the demonstration in Syntagma Square. The protesters all had black flags, but instead of young college-age anarchist types, they were all older men. I asked some friends later if these men were anarchists as they had black flags… my friends said it was more likely that they were plumbers.

The Athenians I’ve met often ask me what living in NYC is like. This morning, NYC was a lot like here. I stumbled out of my apartment onto a series of challenging obstacles. In the first 5 minutes i encountered this:
1. walk out of building and immediately have to get out of other peoples way.
2. people on sidewalk brush against me as they walk by.
3. cross street and have to negotiate double parked van unloading boxes.
4. get to an intersection and have a smiling person with clip board launch into their pitch.
5. get asked for a Euro from an American.
ok.. I’ll pause here. the most puzzling event of the day was encountering this American pan-handler. He was tall, mid 30’s, clean cut, and with a backpack. he stopped me and very politely introduced himself with very slow simple English (he thought i was Greek). He said he was from America and was traveling around the world but now he is stuck in Greece. then he asked me for a Euro to get something to eat. I didn’t have a Euro, but i was also too confused to speak. A traveler out of luck and stuck in Greece, maybe sleeping on the street? I never imagine Americans as being in this situation abroad. i imagine immigrants from developing countries or refugees from the baltics asking for money and maybe local teenagers, but American tourists?

I had to escape the busy streets, so i walked up the north slope of the acropolis and found Anafiotika. This small area was built by stonemasons from Anafi to resemble their home island. It looks just like towns on the Greekislands I’ve been to. It’s peaceful, but I feel a little uneasy to be in an area that resembles nothing like the rest of the city.

some photos from the week

more turtles

nafplio for the weekend

I went to Nafplio this weekend.
Nafplio was the first capital of Greece until young King Otto decided to make Athens the capital. It has a well preserved old city center and 3 fortifications dating from different eras. There are Mycenaean ruins and 6000 years of continuous habitation in this part of the Peloponnese . So, similar to athens, it’s hard to know which millennia the thing you’re standing in front of belongs to.

I stayed in a really cheap pension above the old city. From here it was easy to walk over the hill to the beach behind the town. the water was clear, peaceful and lukewarm.

At the top of the old town is an abandoned fancy hotel. It looked weathered from afar, but at closer inspection, it had been destroyed by vandalism.. glass was broken, things seemed beaten up. I began to notice that all the light posts on top of the hill had all the glass broken out, and the spotlights that illuminate the fortifications at night were smashed up as well. It seems as though a lot of rage had been taken out on these inanimate objects. For the rest of my visit I was on the look-out for the perpetrators.

No Day

Today was Okhi Day. ‘Okhi’ means ‘no’ in Greek, and today is the anniversary of when the Greek leader , Metaxas, responded ‘no’ when asked by Mussolini if he could move some Italian troops through Greece. His standing up to Italy meant that Greece would officially enter the war, and, well, Greece lost a lot of people during the war.

Nothing was open today, so I went to the National Garden to read. A few people had recommended it as a nice place to read. What i found instead was a suspicious amount of men sitting alone on park benches eyeing people as they walked by. At one point i kept seeing the same man in an orange and brown sweat suite wherever i went. I probably wouldn’t of noticed, but last night i had an uncomfortable conversation with the elderly man that lives in the studio apartment next door. He was drunk and invited me over for some wine after i introduced myself as the American that lived next door. he also said “i like you” and asked me to come over sometime. In blog this sounds boring, but in real life it was terribly creepy..

I called my friend Eva who lives near the garden and told her about the man in the sweat suite. She said “walk quickly and come over right away.” I did. I spent the rest of the day playing with Miles the dog and tasting the unfamiliar Greek treats in her kitchen.

Also today I found this car covered in yogurt. Expensive delicious yogurt:

This is Miles

video interlude (guard at the Presidential Residence, goose in the National Garden)