My Painted Lyre: Seeing music in Chicago’s Greektown – New Greektown Public Art Exhibit

Collage of works displayed in My Painted Lyre: Seeing music in Chicago’s Greektown 
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My Painted Lyre: Seeing music in Chicago’s Greektown opened Saturday, June 4 along Halsted Street

Diverse group of Chicago artists celebrate music with 26 vibrant artwork interpretations of the “lyre,” an ancient Greek instrument set reimagined in a modern-style sculpture

Greektown Chicago is proud to present its new outdoor art exhibit My Painted Lyre: Seeing music in Chicagos Greektown, with 26 vibrant three-dimensional artworks lining Halsted Street from Monroe to Van Buren Streets, opening on Saturday, June 4, 2022 and running through spring 2023.

My Painted Lyre artwork by James McNeill Mesple

A diverse group of Chicago artists is celebrating music with personal interpretations of the “lyre,” an ancient Greek instrument reimagined in a modern-style sculpture. The lyre speaks of music, song, poetry and dance. It also brings to mind the heavens where the constellation Lyra appears in the northern sky. Inspirations for the 26 magnificent artworks come from multiple sources including Greek mythology, history, science and memories of special places.

The installation of these art pieces signals the start of summer in Chicago’s Greektown.

My Painted Lyre is sponsored by Greektown SSA #16, the neighborhood’s business improvement district, in partnership with the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation.

“Music is universal, it connects us, and the Lyre artworks reflect this human bond,” says Greektown SSA #16 Commissioner Eve Moran. “This exhibit encourages everyone to be inspired by beautiful musical story while walking to Greektown for dinner, drinks or other treats, on a lovely summer day.”

Along with an exciting group of professional and emerging Chicago artists, the following ten Chicagoland Greek schools are participating in the Lyre exhibit: Guardian Angel Orthodox Day School, Holy Apostles Greek School, Holy Cross Sophocles Greek School, Koraes Elementary School, Plato Academy, St. Demetrios Pythagoras Children’s Academy, St. Demetrios SOLON Greek School, St. George Greek School, St. John the Baptist Pythagoras Greek School, and St. Spyridon Plutarchos Academy.

More details and sculpture locations will be announced in June. Visit for more information.

Title of Lyre Artworks & Artist Statements

Lyrical Spirit by Arturo Barrera

Inspired by Albin Polasek’s Spirit of Music in Grant Park, Lyrical Spirit is a celebration of music and Greek history. Spirit of Music depicts a tall, bronze, muse holding a lyre. Lyrical Spirit is an abstract approach with simplified geometric figures, representing two different people holding a lyre. The colors used are traditional Greek colors. Many people associate Greek culture with only blue and white because of their country’s flag, and Greek statues with a lack of color. However, many of the ancient Greek sculptures were originally painted colorfully. After years of harsh weather and other effects on Grecian sculptures, the polychromatic finishes fade significantly, if not fully, which gives them a white, or bland, appearance. Lyrical Spirit connects the history of the Greek palette with a celebration of Greek culture in Chicago. 

Chicagos Lyre by Juan A. Cano 

Inspiration: Love for our city and diversity in music.

My Painted Lyre artwork by Elena Diadenko

Day and Night by Elena Diadenko  

Two women, Day and Night, are each dressed in traditional Ukrainian outfits and surrounded by the fields of wheat and poppies. They represent the beauty and rich folklore of Ukrainian culture. One of the women (Day) holds a bundle of wheat that represents prosperity and life in Ukraine. Another woman (Night) holds a dove of peace and poppies that speak to the beauty of the land.

My Painted Lyre artwork by Malika Jackson

Symbolic Gestures of the Goddess by Malika Jackson

This work is to honor several of the Greek Goddesses with their symbols: Aphrodite, Hera, Artemis.

My Polish Summer by Bonnie Loboda

There is music and movement in the natural world. And it stays long in our memories. I recall the buzzing of insects, the flutter of birds, the dancing of butterflies and the soft sway of flowers (poppies, daisies, cornflowers, dandelions, etc.) in a gentle wind.

Three Celestial Hierarchies by Victoria Martin

The Celestial Hierarchies were famously put in order during the fifth century by the theologian Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite. The highest level, i.e., the first, contains the beings around the throne of God. My thesis is that these were premonitions for actual objects & shapes discovered in Deep Space 1920 – now. In the second level down are the creator deities. They are explained symbolically but seem to depict what we now know to be true via creation science and evolution. In the third level are the angels that watch over the earth and its inhabitants well known to us via biblical stories.

Sun Dance by James McNeill Mesplé

Apollo teaches Orpheus to play the Lyre as Terpsichore (the Muse of Dance) plays her own lyre while dancing!  Marsyas challenges Apollo to a music contest, playing sensual Earth Music on his flute for Eurydice’s Sunflower Dance.  Apollo plays the classical Music of the Spheres, the heavenly planets themselves, thereby winning the contest.

My Painted Lyre artwork by Bonnie Loboda

The Grapes of Generosity by Molly McGrath

The grapes of generosity relate to the Greek people. They like the fruit that grows on the vine, help them stay alive and be healthy.

Daughter of Athena Κόρη της Αθηνάς by Mark Nelson

Angela Paterakis nurtured many student artists at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of her students become teachers and educational leaders embedded throughout the Chicago Public Schools, higher institutions and beyond. Angela’s students greatly appreciated her wisdom, compassion and commitment that often continued into their professional life long after they graduated. Her impact on the world of arts education exponentially grew as she witnessed her network of leaders energize arts in early education and expand equitable opportunities for Chicago’s inner-city kids and beyond.

They All Played by Patricia Owsiany

Apollo, as the myth goes, received his lyre from Hermes, the messenger God. It was one of his power symbols. As Apollo played, the Greeks also played. The lyre was one of the most common instruments of Ancient Greece. Now, Henry the 8th was also an accomplished musician who played many instruments, and the lyre was just one of them. In the heavens, the constellation Lyre is composed of Vega, Gamma Lyre, R Lyre, Mu Lyrae Eta and Delta….so even the stars played!!

Apolo Ohno by Percent

500 m: 41.327 (2009) 1000 m: 1:24.500 (2009) 1500 m: 2:11.280 (2003) 3000 m: 4:32.975 (2003)

String Theōros by Terry Poulos

The artist draws first upon the Pythagoreans’ love of beauty and symmetry in relation to resonance, proportion and certain pleasing melodic tones concerning specific spacing of string instrument ratios (a fifth, a third, etc.).  Modern physics redirected that knowledge in the form of String Theory, asserting particles themselves are the emergent product of vibrations of ‘quantum threads of interaction’ which create what humans perceive as condensed matter (fermionic particle-waves) and light (bosonic particle-waves). The conjecture being that this illusory physical world we inhabit is dependent on the frequency and angular momentum at which said strings resonate and interact.

My Painted Lyre artwork by Diane Thodos

Lyrical by Diane Thodos

This work is inspired by the many lyrical and moving images of lyra players from classical ancient Greek pottery. The emotion and movement of the musicians shows an immediacy created centuries ago that is just as lyrical and expressive in our times.

The Castaway by Miss Alex White

Inspired by the 1965 Castaways song, “Liar Liar,” this lyre piece is an amalgamation of psychedelia. Oozing with Peter Max pop sensibility, this colorful work echoes mid-century imagery and messages that still resonate today. 

The Color of Music by Kiki Whitehead

There are few art forms more enchanting than the collision of music and art.  Both can be felt deep within your soul. This piece is an abstract form of that beautiful combination beginning with the origins of the lyre.

My Painted Lyre artwork by Rebecca Zaragoza

A Woman’s Touch by Rebecca Zaragoza

I’ve depicted a series of women joyfully playing the lyre. Of course, anyone willing can play the instrument. And doing so, they can bring music to our ears and color to our world through harmonious notes and other relationships.

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