Mara Karetsos, an icon from a glamorous time in cultural history, shares some of her story with Delphi Reclaimed
words by DR contributor Maria Repouskou
When writing about women like Mara Karetsos, you are either left staring at a blank, uncertain where to begin… or in need of major parameters so as not to write an entire book. The tales of her fascinating life include growing up in Larissa, then Athens, Paris, New York, the world!
How can someone describe a young girl with ambition, who knew that will be an artist at the tender age of 10, a woman with a goal, destined tο succeed – if not goals!
Leaving behind the security of a good salary and everybody’s whispers of this being a mistake, she relocates to Paris. The following decade is filled with hard work, ups and downs but also dreams. All until she took a leap of faith and showed her artwork to Paul Faketi. His perceptiveness was enough to identify the potentiality, the tremendous talent and the Grecian aesthetics of Mara Karetsos.
When asked about her greatest source of inspiration, the answer “Greece” comes naturally. I’d like to know if the answer is accompanied by sheer excitement or with a slightly exasperated, “do you even have to ask?” sigh.
The next chapter of her life, the “Iolas” chapter, takes place in New York City where Mara Karetsos remains a notable resident today. It’s the times when Iolas was surrounded by surrealists. The era of Studio 54. A time when Andy Warhol was a leading figure of New York’s art and social scene.
She makes it happen. She is a doer anyway. She emerges in the art scene like the Greek Venus of visual arts. She doesn’t limit herself art-wise. Poems, jewellery, sculpture, and ceramics are all outlets for her boundless creativity. I ask her what the most important moment in her career was. She says, “My first exhibition at Alexander IOLAS Gallery in New York”. As for personalities that made an impact on her, the answer is flashy names like “Dalai Lama, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Mick Jagger.”
Mara Karetsos is an eternal life lover, a strong woman with passion and orientation. Legacy from her mother, she says. Her “ain’t no mountain high enough” approach to life and her genuine talent have been translated into success. Her artwork has sold for the big bucks and became precious possessions of major art collectors. If the artistic Pantheon was the goal, she’s in!
She is the living image of style and sophistication. Her polished pantsuit outfits have turned iconic, in a Carolina Herrera/white shirt way. Her genuine cosmopolitanism comes from roaming around the Upper East Side and summering in Saint-Tropez and Palm Beach. Always having Greece and Greeks in her heart, frequently returns to her beloved home country. I am curious on her favorite part of the country. She quotes Henry Miller “It takes a lifetime for someone to discover Greece, but it only takes an instant to fall in love with her” before she tells me “I love the Greek islands”.
I am tempted to ask what she would advise young artists.
Her answer? “To be an artist is to believe in yourself and in life. Good things take time”.
If you are looking for your daily dose of optimism then follow Mara Karetsos here.
If you enjoyed this piece, read our interview with the late, great Polixeni Papapetrou.