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ART IN THE TIME OF COVID: George Hatzichrisostomou’s stained glass

The almond trees are in bloom, filling the sky like a canopy with their feathery blossoms. They bloomed early this year as it was such a warm January … until the cold snap kept them back a bit. :

Another bright sign on the horizon: the new U.S. president and vice-president. Despite all the problems looming, the inauguration ceremony, masks and all, was joyful. As Amanda Gorman ended her lovely poem with her rap style and hand gestures like a bird soaring in the sky: “For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Besides the light with such needed new leadership, there’s also light with the vaccine slowly promising a return to normal (oh what a beautiful word)

The retail stores opened again, but we’re still sending SMS whenever we want to go out. The purchasing with”click away”during the holidays worked okay for electronics and books, but not so well with clothes and shoes, which experienced a deep dip in sales. Hard to buy without trying on!

The caption says “I bought pants with click away!”

On Sunday, with stores open for sales, Ermou, the main shopping street of Athens, was filled with swarms of lean and hungry shopping-deprived citzens, some waiting as long as an hour in lines to get into the socially distanced stores. There goes the two hours we’re allowed with the sms to do our shopping — apparently people are sending multiple messages…and getting fines. That’s certainly a deterrent from venturing out of your area to shop.

Secondary schools will open next week. Elementary schools opened a couple of weeks ago, but along with books, masks and antiseptic gel, some kids are bringing blankets, since windows are kept open to air out the classrooms. This wasn’t easy with the cold that hit a couple of weeks ago with snow in many parts of the country.

Not a flake fell in our area which makes the origins of this snowman we saw poised on a car one day while we were taking a walk, very mysterious. Granted, snow fell on Mt. Parnitha and Mt. Pendeli, (just 15 minutes away,) but we were barred from going there.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20210117_143249-1.jpg
“How did I get here?”

It’s still uncertain when restaurants and cafes, closed since November, will open, and for only outdoor service. In the middle of day if it’s bright and sunny that’s fine. We’re getting a little tired of cooking (though there is take out of course), but Elias made some amazing lahanodolmades one day (stuffed cabbage with avgolemono sauce)

Let’s see what else is new. In November I published a book of poems. Soon to come out in an ebook!

But what I wanted to do in this blog post is to dedicate it to a talented painter and stained glass artist, George Hadzichrisostomou. Especially during this time of quarantine, we need music, literature, theater, art.

Like countless other events, special art exhibits planned by galleries have of course also been affected by the coronavirus.  One such event was an exhibit planned to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary for the battle of Thermopylae (remember Gerard Butler as Leonidas in the film “300” shouting “We are Spartans!”) and the battle of Salamis, where the outnumbered Greeks scored a decisive victory against the Persians).  George’s oil painting “The March for Battle” was one of the paintings featured in the exhibition.

I asked George a few questions about the exhibit and his entry painting.

Q. It was a great honor for you to be included in the Thermopylae/Salamis exhibit.  What do you think of the general title of the exhibit“ The Self-Taught Truth of Art” and how does it fit your art?

A. As to the title, I agree totally and it fits me perfectly, as I am completely self-taught in my art, through experimentation, and trying out various techniques with glass, the classical leaded glass, fusing (glass on glass melted in a kiln), frit glass (mosaic with tiny bits of ground glass), Tiffany, and 3-D creations all  constructed from glass.

Q  I’ll get back to your beautiful stained glass in a moment, but tell me about the painting that you had in the exhibition.  You can really feel the movement and energy and unity, from the colours you chose and the  faceless warriors.  I understand it was done several years before.  What inspired you to create it? 

A: I was inspired by our ancient Greek history with the hoplites, the warriors going off to fight with spears and shields in phalanx formation, so they could be effective with fewer soldiers. I wanted to commemorate this and I chose the colours to give emphasis to them, as they took off for battle. 

Working in oil painting is one aspect of George’s art but it’s with his vitraux, his stained glass, that he has really made a mark. Several years ago I visited George’s workshop Glassarte Creations at his home outside Athens, in Paleo Faliron. When you enter, you hold your breath at the beauty of the vitraux that he has created.  Besides windows made for churches, stunning original schooners with glass sails and ropes. all sorts of colors and shapes greet your eyes: floral works, historical scenes, Tiffany-style lamps and small works displayed on shelves.

The schooners George has done are gorgeous.  It’s only natural that he has designed boats, as he made his living from the sea for 18 years. Born in Pireaus, he grew up just a few meters from the beach where he spent hours fascinated with the boats lying in the harbour.  The sea was part of his family – his grandfather was a captain and his father a chief engineer in the Navy and Merchant Marine.  So, enrolling in the Officers Training Program at the Merchant Marine Academy in Athens, he worked his way up over the years from Seaman 1st Class to eventually captain.  “It was the majesty of the ships and the lure of faraway places,” George says, “I knew I had to go on these ships to let them take me to the far corners of the world.”

1750’s Victory English ship, King George

The sea pulled George in one direction, but art pulled him another.   As far back as primary school, his teacher had noticed his talent for drawing and painting, usually inspired by ships and the sea, and in high school, his teacher suggested that he study fine arts at the university.  George was encouraged by his grandmother, herself an artist, but his father was adamant that he should follow the family tradition of going to the sea.

During those 18 years as an officer at sea, George visited all the major seaports of the world, up and down the eastern and western seaboards of North America, back and forth to Europe and Asia, Australia, South America, Africa, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic. All through those years, his love of art grew with his visits at every port of call to museums and art galleries where he studied paintings and made sketches. At times shore leave could stretch out for weeks, sometimes months, which gave George precious time to learn.

 On one of his trips where a ship strike kept him moored in Vancouver for some time, he was awed by a display of stained glass.  The beautiful interplay of color and light made something click in him. This discovery of stained glass changed his life.  After his father died in 1978, he felt it was time for a new move in his life, so he left the sea and set about trying to learn everything he could about creating in stained glass.  The artistic side that had lain dormant was bursting out.

At that time, there was no school in Greece to learn the craft of stained glass, so as George says, ” I studied on my own everything I could get my hands on.”   This was indeed a challenge, back in the pre- Google days. But he read what he could, especially through his subscription to the American Stained Glass Quarterly, THE magazine for stained glass, which dates back to 1906.  “I experimented for years and gradually learned and then I began teaching at an art school in Peristeri.”    From eagerly devouring the Stained Glass Quarterly issues, George’s own work was featured in 2011 in an article devoted to him. “I’m  the first Greek to be featured in this magazine,” he says proudly.

For many of us, we think of stained glass in terms of the majestic windows found in Gothic and other cathedrals. Entering the darkness and vastness of a Gothic cathedral, you notice the colored light streaming from above, especially in the sunlight. Besides their beauty through their color and light, these windows had an important function, in telling Bible stories. George has also been involved in the very specialized application of Byzantine icons to decorate large windows in Greek Orthodox churches. Throughout Greece, 27 churches display his windows in all of their grace and brilliant color.

George with one of his church windows

Besides working out of Glassarte Creations in his studio, he has created for years out of his summer house in Halkidiki, in northern Greece, where he has several  kilns and all the equipment he needs. But lugging a trailer full of glass on a 8 ½ hour drive from Athens has become  a bit tiring, and so he is beginning to transport more equipment to his home.


Floral and bird motifs

George has also made tables — here is one using the glass on glass (fused glass) technique.

Another technique is in using glass mosaic, pieces of glass, as we see in one of George’s beloved boats:

George is part of a group of 40 artists who regularly exhibit at the cultural center Flisvos next to the sea. He has also exhibited at the Greek Egyptian Cultural Center in Athens and other galleries.

Stained glass art is one of the most unchanged crafts through the centuries, still requiring the same time and incredible patience it ever did, besides the appreciation an artist needs for color and line design. George’s 3-D schooners are an example of this need for patience, for example, in the Timoleon, the name of a schooner that took part in the 1821 war for independence. George’s wife Vicky commented, “I marveled at his patience. It took him weeks to make because of the intricate work of the sails and rope in glass.” No doubt, patience and discipline learned as a sea captain.

In the coming months, although everything is on “covid” hold, George hopes to exhibit the Timoleon, as this year is the Bicentennial, commemorating 200 years of Greek independence.

The Timoleon schooner

it would be hard to choose my favorite work among all the dazzingly gorgeous pieces, but I think it must be the Tiffany style scene called “Sunset: Symphony of Colours” that has a perfect union of light and colors. Indeed it is a symphony, where each separate part adds to a harmonious whole. At 3 x 1.5 meters, “Sunset” takes up quite a lot of space in the studio. The work made an enduring impression in the gallery where it was exhibited. I don’t think your eye ever wants to stray from all those rainbow sunset colors.

If you’d like to communicate with George, you can reach him at his email at or phone at +30 6948584785.

Eventually galleries will open, along with museums and archaeological sites, as art will fill our lives again, not just online, and slowly but surely we will go back to “normal.”

Prepare to be awed by George’s body of work, as he puts his own mark on this stunning tradition of vitraux or stained glass, dating back through the centuries. Embrace the light shining through the glass “if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

16 thoughts on “ART IN THE TIME OF COVID: George Hatzichrisostomou’s stained glass

  1. Gordon S Moshman 26 Jan 2021 — 23:17

    Beautiful stained glass, the kinetics of “March for Battle” painting, and the optimism of Amanda Gorman’s poetry. Truly light in our dark times. Thanks for reminding us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We need a lift so much in these times — I saw a way through George’s beautiful art, even if it’s only to admire it online! Waiting, waiting for when we can visit galleries and not only…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Judy Binkowski 27 Jan 2021 — 18:32

    Congratulations on having your beautiful creations available on line for others to see. I hope that many others will learn about your fine work. The variety in styles and techniques you displayl is terrific.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy Ann Parkes 30 Jan 2021 — 15:51

    Lovely article, Sherri. George’s art offers a ray of sunshine in our trying times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nancy. That sunshine is what we need now.


  5. Diane Moshman 30 Jan 2021 — 23:09

    The sunset was stunning and my favorite piece, too. I am in awe at how much patience and dedication is needed to create such beautiful art. Diane M

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome isn’t it. Patience and dedication, not to mention an eye for color and design ….


  6. Dear Mrs Sherri MP
    Thanks to my friend Vicky
    I had the chance and opportunity to read in your blog about George’s interesting life and his beautiful art work!
    I found your presentation excellent and I thank you for
    giving me the possibility to know George better.
    When circumstances will allow it, I will ask him to show me his work at his studio.
    Until then I wish him the best of luck, strength and good health,
    to continue his creative artistic work! And to you, to keep your
    excellent work in your blog.
    With kind regards
    Isaac Gabbai

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. Definitely when the situation improves, I hope you’ll be able to see George’s art work at first hand —


  7. Martha Frangiadaki 20 Feb 2021 — 09:33

    So very glad some good photos of Georges work have been put out there for the public to see. Sherri, good job in presenting this amazing artist!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Martha, I was so glad to let others know about George’s work


  8. Orna Roussou 22 Feb 2021 — 20:34

    I have had the pleasure of meeting with George and visiting his Gallery. Lovely article here, but I have seen many more of his creations, and always wished to owe one of them, a door with birds and flowers, would be ideal. I have seen his Tiffany lamps, didn’t know he is also a talented painter. It’s incredible that a self-made artist can produce such beauty. My number one is the vitraux “Sunset”. Congratulations George, I wish more people could see and enjoy your work soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed your comment on George’s beautiful vitraux and I was gratified to learn the painting side of him too


  9. Dear Sherri,
    It’s another wonderful, informative article. It is great to focus on positive, beautiful images and ideas. I enjoyed the fabulous, vibrant artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, isn’t George’s work wonderful, something to rejoice over in an uncertain world


  10. Thank you for sharing with us a nice selection of art works, created by our friend George! We all get inspired by this!

    Liked by 1 person

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