The Modern Eden Gallery Journeys to “Olympus”

0 Comments 16 June 2014

rebecca leveille-guay art

Feature on the Greek God-themed art show “Olympus” at San Francisco’s Modern Eden Gallery.


By Daniel Barron


Many ages before Spider-man spun a web or Superman leaped a tall building in a single bound, our collective imaginations were captured by superpowered titans of a different sort.  The Gods and heroes of the Greek myths were part of important oral traditions designed to cast perspective on the nature of life and political institutions.  With their stirring tales of bitter family rivalries, acts of great heroism, and an endless parade of mythical beasts, they have endured through generations as they are reimagined and reinterpreted.  Curator Bradley Platz recognized their durability when deciding on the theme for the Modern Eden Gallery’s Third Annual Portrait Invitational.  Thus was born “Olympus,” a collection of twenty different pieces by twenty different artists themed after history’s original superheroes.  Yay! LA is proud to showcase the series and get a few words from some of the artists about their work.


If you haven’t already checked it out, be sure to read our article on last year’s Portrait Invitational show, the literary-themed “Fiction.”




rebecca leveille-guay art




bradley platz art



“Mostly what drew me to Apollo was his duality. After researching him thoroughly, I realized that he was the type of figure with whom my work resonates quite strongly.
The farther back I delved historically, the more fascinating Apollo became. I realized our visions of him (sunny, bright, musical, fountain-of-youth character) were quite unbalanced. I discovered that the dual nature of Apollo made him quite a versatile, polar god. He was the god of healing, of death and disease; the god of hunting, of foretelling the future, intelligence, youth, and music. The sun was not associated with him until Roman times.
The more I read about the things which made Apollo, a vision of him formed in my head of a youthful (but not young) man, whose internal qualities were constantly at war with each other. Having the ability to deliver death and destruction, but also to heal any wound or illness instantly, I believe would have driven a human being quite mad- and as he was also the god of intelligence and foresight, he had an abnormal amount of power over the human race.
All these things resulted in a piece which focused on depicting the man- instead of an overwhelming amount of symbolism. There are a few present: the hunting bow, the snake on his arm (symbol of both oracular powers and healing – which, interestingly enough, made its way into our own icon for medicine today), and the circles behind him carry his myriad names in Greek: The Destroyer, The Hunter, The Oracle, The Healer.
Utilizing extreme lighting and casting his eyes in shadow, I wanted to illustrate the volatile nature of Apollo, his conflicting abilities, and depict him more as a man relatable to humankind rather than a distant god. I wanted stillness and beauty, but also darkness and depth; which I think most people can relate to.
I have always loved Greek mythology; aside from taking classes in college, I had an illustrated book when I was little and my favorite of those stories was Jason and the Minotaur.
But, now that I am older, I don’t have a single favorite story; however, I do have a favorite scene. It is from the Odyssey, when Ulysses visits the land of the dead to speak to his mother. Ulysses’ offering to call the dead to his presence was a bowl of animal blood, which they drank. The more they drank, the more solid they seemed to become. It was a very stark, beautiful, and stunning scene, which has stayed with me for many, many years.”

 archer dougherty art




brenton bostwick art



“I chose Hades because I like the fact that he has more going on under the surface of his title as God of the underworld.
There is a lot of mystery to him- I found it fascinating that his is described as stern, cruel and uncaring but not evil.  He covets souls the way he covets riches and for him, his realm is considered the end of the line.  Once you are there you aren’t leaving.
In middle school I developed this obsession with Greek Mythology and now I incorporate that with a general appreciation of all things antiquity and the history of the world.
Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’ was probably the most influential on me.  I haven’t read it in years but the images you associate with a story like that stick with you forever.”
leilani bustamante art
lee harvey roswell art
terry ribera art
“I was so excited when Bradley asked me to be a part of the ‘Olympus’ show. I was a fan of Greek mythology when I was young- favoring the tales of Medusa and the Minotaur above others. For this show we had a preset list from which to pick our subject. Some of the more popular gods and goddesses were already spoken for, so I started looking into Hestia as I preferred to work on a female portrait. To be honest I knew little about her, so I did as much research as I could before starting. Once the most widely revered of the Greek goddesses, she has become a “forgotten goddess” in contemporary times, which is why I was so drawn to her. I’ve always rooted for the underdog. In Greek mythology Hestia is the virgin goddess of heart and home and the keeper of the Sacred Flame. She is of the first Olympian generation, first-born of Titans Cronus and Rhea, and sister to Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera and Hades. Being first born, all offerings to the gods were preceded by an offering to Hestia. Hestia was viewed as the ‘complete’ goddess, the goddess who was whole within herself, and is the archetype for inner centeredness and wisdom.”
catherine moore art
monty guy art
“I chose Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing; because of his identity is at once obscure yet his symbol ubiquitous in our contemporary society. You may be familiar with the caduceus (intertwined serpents on a pole) and have also seen the single pole or staff with one serpent; these symbols mark ambulances and are used by the medical profession. They would appear to be interchangeable, but the caduceus is the sigil of Hermes or Mercury and at some point since the turn of the 20th century, these symbols where used indiscriminately as the mark for the medical arts. My painting has Asclepius with his pharmakon, Medusa.
In the legend, Athena gives Asclepius Medusa’s head; blood from right side of her head is a medicine that heals the sick and dead and blood from the left is a poison that kills. In this painting, he stands above hell, for it is said that he angered Hades by bringing back the dead, and from this chasm he is carrying this serpent aloft on his staff. The serpent is the anthropomorphized energy of healing, this energetic force that is medicine; I attempted to show it’s power to bring the ill and dying back to life.
Paintings are an excellent medium to take on the contradictions inherent in myths. I also have a serpent above, this is at once my allusion that Asclepius was transformed into a constellation of a serpent after his death and a way to reconcile this conflation of the cadueces (double serpent) with the staff of Asclepius (the single serpent).
My personal investment in this myth is that I have a large tattoo of Medusa on my back and I have painted myself as Medusa for over twenty years. In the research for  this painting, I finally found a form of transcendence in her story. She was an innocent who was raped by Poseidon in the temple of Athena and transformed into a monster. In the legend of Asclepius, her blood is the agent used heal or kill.  Medusa is a pharmakon, from this, the modern term ‘pharmacology’ emerged. It was a relief to find her blood was medicine.”
carrie anne baade art
isabel samaras art
john wentz art
jaxon northon art
“For my painting I chose Hermes because he is a symbol for Initiation, the originator of Hermeticism. As a student of Magic, Hermes’ teachings (in the form of Myths) are a reference point and an example to follow.  Hermes was the messenger to the gods, he spoke and the gods listened and acted accordingly, there is a hidden message that serves as a guideline to those who listen, to those who want to Initiate their Existence. That hidden message is the reason I decided to depict Hermes the way I depicted him.

The Greeks believed that in order to create something they needed to create a Myth, because of that Ancient Greece is the origin of our civilization. Greek myths created the world as we westerners know it, they explain the human condition and how to become Heroes, they are a Map to Enlightenment.

If I have to choose one favorite myth I would I say the story of Oedipus, particularly when he meets the Sphinx.”
albert ramos art
brianna angelakis art
Hercules (Heracles)
akira beard art
hannah yata art
adam caldwell art
alec huxley art
melissa morgan art
Purchase these works from the Modern Eden Gallery website.
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- who has written 423 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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