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Greg Kondos brings art to Roseville

Landscape painter teams up with Chinese artist Shimo in Blue Line Gallery show
By: Paul Cambra, Gold Country News Service
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Greg Kondos took one look at the Blue Line Gallery and decided it should be a two-person show. It’s not that Kondos, 88, doesn’t have the body of work to fill it. The artist has been painting all his life, with public collections in the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, as well as museums in Yosemite, Washington, D.C., France, and at Sacramento City College, where he taught for 27 years. No, Kondos saw an opportunity for something really unique in Roseville, so he arranged to have Chinese artist Shimo share the stage. “East meets west in a way,” said Kondos. “It’s not a competition. We are brothers in the venture. We can communicate with the lines we create. We complement each other, not because we have to, because its there.” Kondos is known as a “master of contemporary landscape art.” His locales range from the Sacramento Delta area, where he lives, to the French countryside, where he recently sold a house. And of course there are the Greek Isles, where his immigrant parents hailed from. “My studio is the world,” he said. “I’m so fortunate with my life and my career. Who is this little Greek boy? How can I have this privilege to work as a painter while others struggle with dull things? I am just so damn lucky.” Julie Hirota, Roseville Arts CEO, feels the people of Roseville should feel fortunate as well. “I think this is a really remarkable time for Roseville Arts,” Hirota said. “To bring a Chinese artist to Roseville is an incredible feat. We’ve been able to bring two incredible artists to Roseville … to share something that crosses cultural boundaries. It’s not something you’re going to see every day.” The exhibit will include over 50 works, and that’s a lot of square footage when you realize that some of Shimo’s pieces measure 5 foot by 9 foot. “Wait until you see Shimo’s work,” said Moni Kondos, Greg’s wife. “He’s a rock star in China.” Moni, an art consultant, handles things that would otherwise take up Greg’s creative time. In addition to the business end of things, she oversees the production of his limited edition giclée prints. “I never go down into his studio with a client, that’s his daily work and I talk a lot,” she said. “Having been raised around art, I know you don’t like all of it and I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. We do a nice tap dance together.” Judging by the popularity of Greg’s work, there’s not a lot of quiet time in the Kondos household. Blue skies and a sense of calm take over his paintings. Vibrant colors meld together to form natural-looking landscapes. Even elements of dominance are soft and subdued. “As an individual, I’m more excited about doing a good painting. Doing a perfect painting is impossible. That’s what nature is about,” Kondos said. Though he has been out of the teaching ranks for some time, Kondos still holds the occasional workshop and is not against offering his advice when it’s sought. “I try to stay close to young people to guide them if possible. When I see someone who is serious, I move in. When I’m called upon to talk to second graders it thrills the hell out of me. I have these little minds in front of me, with imaginations that we all should have,” he said. Hirota said it’s important for Roseville families to experience these artists in their own backyard, without having to go to outlying areas for a great art experience. “It’s a great combination of souls between these two gentlemen … two very different approaches that work well together. The juxtaposition of the two is very interesting, the way they work together and have forged a relationship,” she said. To Kondos, any difference in their work goes back further than either man’s lifetime. “Think about the history of the two worlds,” he said. “The Chinese vision is decorative; the west’s vision is natural. Chinese light is overall. Western light is where the shadows fall. I sense the Chinese look right at the sun, while the western world puts the sun in the background to cast shadows. Finally, when they begin to complement each other, we have a show.” The show runs through Feb. 25 at the Blue Line Gallery, providing an opportunity to see two artists at the top of their game, manipulating light and shadows to create uncontrolled reactions. “We should be considered scientists in color,” Kondos said.