By Penny Kastaris
Rip Kastaris may not
be competing in the Olympics this summer, but his efforts and
those of his Hellenic Cultural Foundation team have all the qualities
of Olympic champions. “Kyklos – Circle of Glory,” his
historic mural was recently installed at the Spyros Louise Olympic
Stadium in Athens as a permanent tribute. It took five years and
overcoming many hurdles before winning the coveted placement at
the VIP Center at Greece’s preeminent stadium for an Olympic
homecoming more than a century in the making.
Now this epic creation stands victoriously as an eternal gift
to Greece from the worldwide Diaspora in honor of the spirit
of our great Hellenic legacy.
"In 1896 when the modern Games took place in Athens, one of the
main factors for success was the incredible mobilization of
the Greek Diaspora. This great work of art, “Kyklos,” in
the heart of the Spyros Louis stadium signifies the renewal of
the deep and unending devotion to the Mother Land by all Greeks.
In the cycle of the 108 years, this devotion remains unchanged
and equally magnificent," said Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis.
"Our parents came to America holding us in their arms as their most
cherished gifts. Now we return to Greece with this internationally
supported gift. The journey of Kyklos has been a difficult
one, but its ultimate success is a testament to the champions' spirit
in all of us," said the award-winning artist.
Commissioned by the Hellenic Cultural Foundation, the Kyklos
Olympic Project has united some of the largest Hellenic organizations
the US and worldwide, and has been endorsed by Greek officials
headed by the Ministry of Culture, General Secretariat for
the Olympic Games. This epic mural will be the focal point
VIP reception center inside the stadium and remain permanently
“Kyklos gives all Hellenes and Philhellenes a way to participate
in a historic way. Years from now, our children and grandchildren
will read our family names next to the mural in Greece,”
stated Nicholas Karakas, Chairman of the Hellenic Cultural
With the Summer Olympics quickly approaching, there is
still a short window of opportunity for additional names
inscribed in bronze and become immortalized as part of
this epic tribute.
All the names of the families, individuals and organizations
support this project will be imprinted on the two circular
sculptures to be placed on each side of the mural, which
will span a combined
length measuring 9 by 22 feet. For information on adding
new names and participating in this eternally memorial
www.kyklos.org or call 314-457-9640.
Inscriptions of the names included with Kyklos from across
the globe will be finalized shortly after the July 4 holiday.
This historic Olympic project has received support from
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the Singular Honorary
Archbishop Iakovos, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation,
National AHEPA, National Philoptochos, members of Leadership
Lazarus and Mary Kalipolidis Family of Canada, Drexel University,
of Missouri, John Sam Koutras family in Sao Palo, Brazil,
the Hellenic Community of Australia, Dr. Nick and Nancy
Vidalakis Family Foundation,
and many others. A more complete list of donors is available
by logging onto www.kyklos.org/donors.html.
Along with being chosen as the Creative Director for the
Hellenic Cultural Foundation based on his innovative designs,
honored as the 2003 Artist of the Year by the prestigious
Kastaris is the first Greek-American selected by the United
States Olympic Committee to create original art commemorating
which includes his popular 2002 “Fire and Ice” series
and his original art “Athena--Return to Glory” for
the 2004 Games. Among his other Olympic creations is "Spirit
of Athena” designed for the Athens Environmental Foundation
and the global Olympic environmental movement.
Featured in the acclaimed PBS television series “The Greek
Americans,” this first-generation Hellene has had a successful
creative career spanning over 22 years. His company and studio
Petra Fine Art is based out of St. Louis, Missouri, where Rip
lives with his wife Harriet, and their three children Georgia,
Copyright June 11, 2004