“Kyklos” Olympic Mural Champions Worldwide Hellenic Spirit

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 and history 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 in 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 of the VIP reception center inside the stadium and remain permanently installed.


“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 Foundation.


With the Summer Olympics quickly approaching, there is still a short window of opportunity for additional names to be inscribed in bronze and become immortalized as part of this epic tribute. All the names of the families, individuals and organizations who 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 log onto 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 Chairman, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, National AHEPA, National Philoptochos, members of Leadership 100, Lazarus and Mary Kalipolidis Family of Canada, Drexel University, 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, Rip was honored as the 2003 Artist of the Year by the prestigious Elios Society. Kastaris is the first Greek-American selected by the United States Olympic Committee to create original art commemorating US athletes, 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, Mary and Peter.

Copyright June 11, 2004

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