Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Passing of the Spark

There is nothing more life-affirming than the realization of the creative spark. If you are reading this blog  on any sort of regular or semi-regular basis, you are most likely in the camp of the human race that sees there is value in pursuing this spark, in preserving this spark, and in handing it--as it twinkles on the edge of a slender twig--onto another soul who is also looking for the spark. A few days after my dad, the artist Georg Vihos, passed on, I got this email from my "cousin" (not a blood relative, but the Greeks are a close-knit clan), sharing his story of the passing of the spark. He gave me permission to print the email here. I share it with you not so much because it is about my dad (and also about Ernie) but because it is a story about passing on that which is most beautiful, most delicate, most strong. I think you will find it relevant to your own story, somehow:

Dear Lisa...

I just received the news that Georg is painting on higher planes.  I will miss his amazing spirit.  However, as with all great artists, his spirit will hover as long as his work exists. I have an original Vihos hanging in my home.  It's one of his parakeet series.  It makes me smile every day.  I also have a framed poster of his early work of St. George.  Doesn't make me smile... I think he would be appalled if it did...  but it does encourage me to look into the dark corners of this complex existence.  Georg always challenged me to think.  And Georg always inspired me with his burning passion to make art.

But most of all, I remember Georg when I was about 15, and I knew I wanted to spend my life working in the art.  And Georg was the only person in our parents' generation of family members and Greeks who got it.  And not only did he get it, but he encouraged me to follow my make my mark on the world through the creative spirit that was bubbling up in a clueless teenager.  I can still remember the exact time and place, and the determined look on his face and that inimitable twinkle in his eye. 

Heading into the arts was not a very popular path for a young Greek-American, especially when there was a perfectly good family business to enter.  But Georg took my side in front of my entire family, and challenged me to own the artist that was trying to emerge from inside this sensitive kid.  Well... I just turned sixty, and so far, I have had a most wonderful career in the theatre.  I've made a living for 35 years, making art on the stage, and doing what I love.  It hasn't always been easy, but it has always been glorious!  What I lucky man I've been.  And now I am directing and teaching theatre at Hollins University, and helping young artists connect with their passion.  I've picked up Georg's drum...and the beat does indeed go on from generation to generation!

The artistic spirit has ignited so many days in my life...and I often remember that day when your dad smiled at me and helped me see that I could be an artist!  A bit of his spirit has always existed in my work, and will continue in every performance I help create. I was lucky to have Georg in my life.  He is one of my greatest heroes.  He was a true gift to me and to the world!

Please give my love to your Mom and Illia, and your entire family, and let them know Georg's light will always be twinkling on the stages wherever I work.



1 comment:

Rob Pockat said...

It's an odd thing, being an artist. Creating art--be it painting, drawing, music, writing, or whatever one's art may be--is a challenging thing. To use a cliche, it's a labor of love. Sharing that art with others can be, for many artists, quite painful. But sharing craft and technique with a fellow or blossoming artist is where, I feel, the real excitement sets in. Artists love to learn, and they love to teach. Georg is an outstanding example of this.