The Island of Artists
The old timers had a saying: "Every tree has its own shade". In other words, everything has a unique trait. And Aegina's unique character seems to attract intellectuals and artists like honey. Years ago, Greek scholar Kostas Varnalis would spend months in what is now the Archontiko Hotel; writer Nikos Kazantzakis, known the world over, built a house of stone on the water near Livadi so he could withdraw from the world for years at a time and work on the masterpieces he left behind. The great painter Nikos Nikolaou and Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis strolled through the lanes and gazed at the setting sun to later express the beauty and harmony they saw, each in his own way. Andreas Vourloumis, whose paintings exude the ethereal sweetness of the landscape, would ride his bike to the fish market at the age of 80, so thin that the locals called him "Paper Man". Georgios Batis, a musician of the rebetika Greek blues tradition, would play bouzouki with his band in the little park next to the Town Hall. An anecdote from the period reflects the spirit that is woven into the island's modern reality. One day, Christos Capralos, Yannis Moralis and David Kennedy were having a drink at Panagakis' tavern on the waterfront. Three masters, three great men who had devoted heart and soul to their art, a glass of retsina wine, and some olives or fried fish at their table. (The first two have already passed on to the Pantheon of Immortals; the third is still among us, recalling beautiful stories from the old days.) Kennedy, the youngest and most inexperienced in the group, was distressed that he had no money to buy a canvas and paints. At that time, he was still painting and had not begun to work as a sculptor. Capralos turned to him and said: "If it's money you're worried about, I'll give you some to buy a pocket knife and a piece of wood."
It could well have been the instant that the masterful carvings Kennedy is known for today were conceived.
And that's just a drop in the bucket. Exceptionally talented local and non-local artists have been adding their brush strokes to the rich canvas of the island since antiquity. The number of artists taking part in the Fistiki Fest's Artists' Tour has grown to more than 100, while there are also six theatre groups , a number of ceramists and potters, musical groups and cultural associations - the list is endless. The artistic tradition continues from generation to generation.