'Crime Scenes' is arresting exhibit
When artist George Pappas expresses outrage against unspeakable acts, he does so to remind the viewer that evil can be resisted.
By AMY ABBOTT
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
This is a project that has been on George Pappas' mind for years. The Holocaust, the civil rights movement, the death of the rainforest: All these social injustices and more have compelled Pappas to put brush to canvas and create a collection of paintings titled Crime Scenes.
The 35-plus paintings depict some of the human-made horrors that have plagued civilization throughout history. Pappas hopes to reach out to people and help them understand the history and motives behind such crimes.
"This is to make people realize something can be done," said Pappas, "and to see that they don't happen again."
Pappas' father, a Greek Orthodox priest during the 1940s in Portsmouth, N.H., raised him "to respect all people."
One of his first experiences with racism was in 1954, when he gave a black friend a ride to Washington, D.C., from Penn State. When the two stopped at a Baltimore diner, his friend told him he couldn't go in. Pappas ended up bringing food out and eating with his friend in the car.
One painting in the exhibit reflects a deadly result of racism. Three bodies silhouetted against dark olive and burgundy shades hang from a tree. The word HOLIDAY is printed below. The title: Billie Holiday Sings "Strange Fruit." The piece is an interpretation of a song Holiday made famous; its lyrics depict the bodies of lynching victims hanging from Southern trees like "strange fruit."
Not all "crimes" in Pappas' art relate to social issues. He perceives crime against art in a comical way. One piece is titled The Day Monet Gave Up Smoking. The work shows Monet's painting Haystack Near Giverny with the two haystacks on fire.
A Sarasota resident and a Florida native, Pappas plans to display his work at Clayton Galleries through May and other galleries throughout Florida over the summer.
AT A GLANCE
- What: Crime Scenes -- Recent Paintings
- When: Friday through May 27; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.
- Where: Clayton Galleries, 4105 S MacDill Ave., Tampa
- How much: Free
- Call: (813) 831-3753
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