John Kosmopoulos is a fine art photographer from Toronto who specializes in black and white photography. His photographs of the OAKA complex in Athens recently won a Gold (First Place) and a Bronze Award in Fine Art Architecture at the prestigious PX3 - Prix de la Photographie (Paris) international competition 2014. The Greek Star’s editor Diane Adam recently caught up with Kosmopoulos to learn more about his love for the lens and his favorite places to take photos in Greece.
Please explain your background for our readers. Where are your parents from in Greece?
I am a father, family man, consultant and professor in the Behavior Sciences in the Toronto area. In many ways, I consider Chicago my second city given how much I have visited for personal and professional reasons. I was born in Athens but my parents moved to Canada when I was very young. My father is from a small village near Tripoli in the Peloponnese and my mother is originally from Crete. Athens is where they fell in love.
How old were you when you took your first photograph?
I was always fascinated by the promise of photography to fulfill something in me and to balance my life. I have become lost and found in its pursuits. My interest in photography began when I picked up a Kodak Tourist Camera from an antique store for ten dollars. The camera didn’t work but it made me research the history of photography in my early twenties. During my first trips around Europe, I picked up a Sony digital camera to take my first “real” photographs at the turn of the millennium. The combination of beautiful scenery and the ability to record my experiences for posterity through artistic expression enthralled me. I was hooked on photography at that moment. Since that time, I have enjoyed specializing in black and white photography using conventional, long exposure and infrared long exposure techniques across eclectic subjects and delving into my own practical theories of photography.
What is your expertise?
I consider myself somewhere between a self-taught professional and an amateur photographer as I don’t make my main living as a photographer. However, photography has honored me with many possibilities for travel and friendships with fellow artists. I have been fortunate to receive recognition for my work by receiving multiple international awards and publications, having my work featured in galleries and film, conducting workshops, and becoming a featured artist with theHouse of Ilford, Formatt-Hitech and Topaz Labs Software.
You introduced a new word/phrase in the lexicon of photography known as “vision drawing” or “oramagraphy” “όραμαγραφία”™ . Explain this.
I refer to this concept as a “new psychology of photography” that focuses on the artist’s creative process in fine art photography. What you capture with your camera isphotography (light drawing); what you do before, during and after you take a photograph (i.e., from previsualization to realized vision) is a complimentary term that I coined asoramagraphy (vision drawing). In essence, what and how we take a photograph becomes secondary to why we choose to make a photograph the way we do. If we answer the why, we understand the psychology and motivation behind the photo much better. This concept also refers to the pursuit of a personal originality that may lead the photographer to discover an inspirational or innovative form of photography in the evolution of photography as an art form. I developed some core principles for this model based on my readings of famous photographers like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson, to name a few. This concept is also applicable to all artists who practice various fine arts including film, painting, music, and architecture.
If you could spend 24hrs shooting photographs in Greece where would you be?
When I think of Greece, I am often reminded of a quote by Nikos Kazantzakis: “Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it. It looks at you and does not forgive.”
Beauty abounds in every corner of Greece. It is very tempting to say the islands, which always provide solace for the soul, but I could easily spend hours near Meteora or Thessaloniki, two places I have yet to visit, as I spend most of my time in Athens proper, Peloponnesus or the iconic islands. Greece is not only a country to me but an experience and experiment in wonder.
If not for your current occupations, what would you be?
A film director. I seriously considered this path before I entered university. When I make photographs, I often see “moving pictures” as if I am stepping into a film of my own making that I have stilled or slowed with every click of my camera. I often visualize a scene with this type of aesthetic in mind. I enjoy the tangible ethereality of these experiences tremendously. As much as I love what I am doing as art and science, I am a strong believer that a person can be a master of more than one fate and that human excellence is boundless.
What do you love most about your Greek heritage?
- Our passion for life, our perseverance in the face of adversity, and our pursuance of ideas that can and have changed the world. We also have an uncanny way of telling stories that resonate with the world. It may sound Proustian, but I like to translate my own lived stories through my photography. As much as I am a citizen of the world, being a Greek-Canadian is an indelible part of my identity that humbles me and makes me proud at the same time.
You can visit more at John’s website: www.silverzenphotography.com
Greek Star: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where did you grow up and go to school?
Dan Mihalopoulos: I was born on the North Side of Chicago, went to high school at Maine West in Des Plaines and graduated in 1996 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Greek Star: How long have you been a reporter?
DM: I’ve been a reporter since I was a child, first as editor of my elementary school and high school newspapers. I also wrote a column called “News from Maine West” for the Des Plaines Times as a high school senior. I began writing for daily newspapers in college, and my first full-time job after graduating was as a Metro section reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I moved back home to become a reporter for the Chicago Tribune in 1999.
Greek Star: What are some of the more memorable stories you have covered?
DM: Since 2012, I have been an investigative reporter on the Chicago Sun-Times “Watchdogs” team, and last year I began writing a weekly political column for the Sun-Times’ “Early & Often” political portal, which you can access at politics.suntimes.com. I also appear frequently as a news commentator on broadcast media, including WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight,” WBEZ-91.5 FM’s “Afternoon Shift” and my koumbaro John Kass’ morning talk show on WLS-890 AM.
I’ll certainly never forget covering the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. It was very meaningful as a Greek-American —and a lot of fun —to cover the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. But I’m perhaps most proud of covering local government and politics in my home state for the past 16 years, including the Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel administrations. One of the most memorable stories I covered on the City Hall beat was the federal corruption investigation and 2006 trial of Daley’s patronage chief. More recently, it was interesting to report on how a politically connected Chicago charter-school operator had spent a record state grant of $98 million.
Greek Star: Can you tell us a little about your Greek roots? Do you speak the language? Have you visited the country?
DM: My parents are both Greek immigrants -- father Vasilios is originally from Tripoli, Arcadia and mother Despina (Tziforos) is from Achladokambos, Argolida. I speak Greek thanks to them as well as my grandparents, uncles, aunts and Greek school teachers. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Greece numerous times, to see relatives in Athens, Tripoli and Kranidi, Argolida. I’m very proud of not only my Greek roots but also the ethnic and religious community that I grew up in here in the Chicago area, many of whom have given me strong and greatly appreciated encouragement in my career.
Having said that, you have to cover everyone— yes, even my fellow Greeks— in the same manner. I hope Hellenes are pleased to see my byline above stories that have value for all Chicagoans and Illinoisans, of every ethnicity, race and creed.
Greek Star: What do you think about the political system here?
DM: The political system in this country is certainly one of the greatest manifestations yet of the democratic ideal that the ancient Greeks invented. There are many aspects of our system that are the envy of much of the world. The freedom of the press and other innovations such as open-records and open-meetings laws are vital to the functioning of our democracy.
Yet here in Chicago we are especially mindful of the system’s deep flaws, revealed in the frequent corruptions cases at our local federal courthouse and by the “watchdog” investigative reporting in the local media. Transparency in government is the greatest deterrent to actions that might benefit special, clouted interests at the public’s expense. Despite the economic challenges facing our industry, the owners of the Sun-Times and our journalists and lawyers have litigated cases under the state’s “Sunshine Law,” aka Freedom of Information Act, to help ensure accountability for every taxpayer dollar and for every decision carried out in the public’s name. I am a party in one such pending case against a major private, charter school operator that’s funded almost entirely by taxpayers.
Greek Star: What do you think about the media business today? Will the Internet entirely replace newspapers?
DM: There’s no doubt that the media industry is facing profound economic challenges and rapid technological changes. Every day now, I and most news consumers get the latest stories on handheld phones or other electronic devices as soon as we awaken, before we go down to the driveway or lobby to get our newspapers. So there no longer is one, daily deadline, because stories break continuously on the web sites of large media organizations and lone-wolf bloggers. This is a dramatic shift compared to how things were 20, or even 10 years ago.
Regardless of how the news is delivered, there are universal principles of journalism that transcend technology, time, place and language. The most important thing is that fair, aggressive journalists continue to do their jobs— no matter how our reporting gets transmitted.
Greek Star: Is there anything else you would like to say that we haven’t asked?
DM: I think that about covers it, although I’m happy to try to answer any other, follow-up questions you might have.
SCHOLAR. . . Professor THANOS VEREMIS is now a scholar in residence for the Fall 2014 Semester in the Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies at the University of Illinois. He is one of Greece’s most internationally renowned scholars and his posts have included the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and Public and International Affairs, St. Antony’s College at Oxford.
OCTOBER NAME DAY GREETINGS for. . . Metropolitan IAKOVOS…BISHOP DEMETRIOS…FATHER JAMES DOKOS…FATHER JAMES GORDON…FATHER JAMES GREANIAS…FATHER DEMETRIOS TRIANTAFELES…FATHER DIMITRI CALLOZZO.
Also…DEMETRA ARIANAS…DEMETRA CHIGANOS…JAMES Z. CHRONES…JAMES KANEL…LUCAS (BILL) KATSENIS..DEMETRI NECKOPULOS…JIM POULOS…JAMES A. REGAS…DEMETRA SVOLOS…DEMETRIA BAKRIS…DR. JAMES MARAGOS.
OCTOBER BIRTHDAY WISHES for. . . Presvytera NASIA GORDON on the 23rd. . . Presvytera MARIA KERHULAS…Presvytera PAM DIMITRIOU…DINO ARMIROS on the 17th. . . LOUISE ATHENS…DEBBIE FOTOPOULOS on the 13th…MELANIE CHIONIS on the 17th…GEORGE GIALANAS on the 20th…JAMES KANEL…PAT KATSENIS…JIM POULON on the 29th…VIOLET SKUTERIS on the 5th…JOANNE STAVRAKAS on the 25th…HELEN THEODOS on the 26th…JIM ORPHAN on the 17th….TASSOS ZERVAKIS…ANTONIA SKIPITARIS-ZIMA.
OCTOBER WEDDING ANNIVERSARY Congrats for. . MONA and TOM SKALKOS on the 10th. . . GEORGE and ROSE GRITSELIS recently celebrated their 50th.
MARRIED. . . JENNIFER IOANNA HOBBS to DEAN CARY KALANT on June 28th. . . .JENNIFER BODE to JOHN NOLAN with RICHARD BODE as Sponsor on September 13.. . ANASTASIA DOLLAS to JASON WILLBANKS…ANGELA PAPPAS to DEAN MARIS…ANASTASIOS KARYDIS to GRETCHEN MATHIS…SOPHIA MELLOS to ELIAS KONTOS…SARA KIRKPATRICK to STEVE PANEK…
Also…JOANNA SPILIOTI to DARLO FERNANDEZ MORERO…CHRISTOPHER ANAST to TRISH HOWE. . . CHRISTINA LADAS to JON CHRISTENSEN, with ANTHONY LADAS as Sponsor. . . DIMITRA STAMATOUKOS to JEFFREY FREEHILL, with DIANE TRAHANAS as Sponsor.
40 DAY BLESSINGS. . . BABY KARRAS, daughter of THANOS and LILY KARRAS. . . . ABIGAIL (Evangelia) MARIA, daughter of HARIKLEA and MARK SERLO…ELECTRA, daughter of SOPHIA PAPAEFTHIMIOU and MICHAEL GURADO…STELLA CAMILLE, daughter of JESSICA and MICHAEL HALKIAS. . .
Also…FRANK, son of FRANK and DEANNA SALERNO…MIHAELA KATERINA, daughter of GEORGE and ELEFTERIA (Kori) TSOUKALAS. . . MILA ALEXANDRA, daughter of ANGELA and ALLAN KONCAREVIC.. . MARK, son of DIANA and STEFAN ZESTREA.
CHRISMATION…CHRISTOFOROS (Blake) KENNEDY
ADULT BAPTISM…KASSIANI (Casey) JASINSKY with CHUCK and CHRISTINE NOLAN as Sponsors.
BAPTISM. . . THEODORE DYLON, son of TED and MELISSA NECKOPULOS with ARIANA STEVENS as Sponsor at the Sts. Constantine and Helen Church.
KPTA OFFICERS. . . Newly elected KPTA officers of the Sts. Constantine and Helen Church are: GEORGIA JERANTOWSKI, President…MARIA PIECH, 1st Vice President…DANA GIAPITZOGLOU, 2nd Vice President…GEORGIA SHIZAS, Corresponding Secretary…IRENE ALEX, Treasurer…SARAH MATALAS, Recording Secretary.
HONOR SOCIETY…Koraes grad, GEORGE CROSBY was selected as a member of the National Honor Society for the school year 2014-2015 at Brother Rice High School. . . GRACE DAVENPORT, PAUL DAVENPORT, ATHANASIOS MAKRIS, CONSTANTINE MAKRIS, ANTONIA PAPPAS and DIMITRIOS PETTAS are honor students at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School.
COLLEGE GRADS. . . MATTHEW JOHN BOYLAN, Bachelor of Arts in History, Carthage College…ALEXANDRA G. CHRISTUS, Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Marketing, University of Illinois, Chicago…ENSIGN GEORGE MICHAEL DAVROS, Bachelor of Science in Arabic, United States Naval Academy. . . MATTHEW DOMER, Bachelor of Arts in History, North Park University…PAUL DOMER, Bachelor of Arts in History, Rhodes College…TATIANA VUKOTIC, Masters in Clinical Psychology, Chicago
AWARDS. . . A&N Mortgage Services, Inc., President NEENA VLAMIS was recognized on Chicago Agent Magazine’s “Who’s Who” list.
CONDOLENCES to the family of the late BESSIE TRIGOUREA who fell asleep in the Lord last month. May her memory be eternal.
Don’t judge anyone harshly
until you yourself have
been through his experiences.
The John C. Kulis Foundation Announces $600,000 Five Year Matching Grant to Hellenic American AcademyWritten by Staff
DEERFIELD, ILL.--The Executive Committee of the Hellenic American Academy is pleased to announce thatthey are the recepient of a generous charitable contribution by The John C. Kulis Foundation. Specifically, the Foundation has offered to provide $120,000 per year in matching funds to the Academy for the next five years.
Established by the late Dr. John C. Kulis, the Kulis Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation located in Chicago and was organized, in part, to support educational programs affiliated with the Hellenic tradition and the Eastern Orthodox faith. Representatives of the Foundation toured the Academy and observed its dedicated teachers and staff in action as well as meeting with Academy leadership. After a thorough review, the Foundation announced its wholehearted support of our Academy and its mission.
The Kulis Foundation is prepared to make its first matching grant donation on or before December 31, 2014. This means we can double the contribution we receive by December 31st in an aggregate amount up to $120,000.
The goal is to raise at least $120,000 by the end of the year to get the maximum benefit of this generous contribution. The Academy enthusiastically educates and nurtures hundreds of students throughout the Chicagoland area every day. Please join us in sustaining the school we all love. Every dollar of your contribution will have double the impact. Now more than ever your generous gift counts. Call the school office for more information, 847.317.1063.
COURTESY: Hellenic American Academy
CHICAGO—The Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies will host Professor Thanos Veremis, well known historian of Modern Greece and Vice Mayor of Athens Oct. 15-Nov.15. The visit is sponsored by the University Seminars Program of the Onassis Foundation (USA). Professor Thanos Veremis is the best known historian of Modern Greece and so popular that he was recently elected Vice Mayor of Athens.
Below is the schedule of events:
Cultural History of Modern Greece, Class/GKM 285
Every Tuesday, R 11:00- 12:15
Lecture Center A 105,
Oct, 15-Nov, 15, 2014
Friday Oct. 17, 4:30: University of Chicago, Classics Building,
The Years of Ottoman Rule, European Influences and National Ideologies
Oct. 22. 12: 12:50. Department of History, UIC, room 950
The role of populism in post-Andreas Papandreou Greek politics
Oct. 30. 3:00-5:00 pm. Department of Classics and MS, Daley Library,
Conversation between Thanos Veremis (Athens), Stathis Kalyvas (Yale) and Leon Fink (UIC):
“History between the Academic and the Public Domain”
Nov. 11. Time TBA. U of I, Urbana/ Champaign . Modern Greek Studies
Greek Economic Crisis and the City of Athens: A Discussion with the Deputy Mayor of Athens, Prof. Thanos Veremis
The Pan-Messinian Federation of USA & Canada, a nonprofit organization established in 1945 which has contributed to the preservation of the Hellenic language, culture and civilization in America and Canada, as well as in the strengthening of the ties between Diaspora Messinians and their homeland, hosts the annual summer school program. The Pan-Messinian Federation has as members 16 Messinian local associations that operate mainly in the large cities of America and Canada. Pictured above are participants of the Summer School Program 2014, in Neokastro, Pylos, Messinia. For more information visit http://www.pan-messinian.com/en/
Margaret Skourlis, a Greek-American, won the title of 2014 Ms. Supermodel USA-Petite in Fargo, North Dakota on Saturday, Setp. 6 2014. This is Margaret Skourlis’ first National title, her prior titles include, Ms. New Jersey United States 2010, Ms. New Jersey United States 2009, Miss Kalamata 2003, Miss Kato Melpia 2002, and Miss Messinia 2001. Margaret will spend her year as a national queen making appearances, doing signings, photoshoots, and giving speeches to help various charities and inspire the youth. She has a master's degree in business administration and a second master’s in political science. She is very passionate and active throughout her life in helping the Greek community both inside and outside of Greece. Many of her relatives are still residing in Greece.
Margaret attributes her success to her parents for instilling in her to never give up and always go after her goals. Margaret is not only a beauty queen but a company owner, model, published poet, published writer, and actress. In her free time she is very diverse in her hobbies which include scrapbooking, traveling, scuba diving, skiing, swimming, playing piano, and Greek dancing.
Her passion for the Greek community can be seen in all the organizations, Greek student programs she has taken, and positions she has held to help the Greek community. She is Vice President of the Intercollegiate Hellenic Society. Formerly she was President of the Maids of Athena Flushing Chapter #126. She was one of the selected students that participated and finished the AHIF Foreign Policy Program to Greece and Cyprus in 2011. She completed twice the D.I.A.S. International Academic Studies program in Crete. During her former beauty queen titles she made appearances and helped various Greek charities and organizations.