I am very grateful. I have a wonderful studio and a small gallery area at LOFT2, 2nd. Floor Studio and Gallery located at The Loft Building 401 South Mesa, San Pedro. I have been an artist all of my life and a practicing, professional studio exhibiting artist since 1978. I have taught the visual arts throughout Los Angeles as an adjunct professor at universities, high school/elementary schools for 45 years and as museum educator for 28 years.
For the last twenty-two years, there is a treasured quote I have posted on my studio door. I came across this reflection from one of the many books that sit on my bookshelf. This one sentence by Vretakos is a seminal reminder and compass for the direction of all of the paintings I have created in the last three decades of my art career.
“I don’t know how
But suddenly there is no darkness left at all
The sun has poured itself inside me
From a thousand wounds.” – Nikoforos Vretakos
Tenacity, blind faith, hard work, passionate commitment and long-suffering were my devoted partners in my career as an artist. The world has changed since I was a young woman. I was raised in a first generation Greek home. The memory of sand dunes of Manhattan Beach in the 1950’s and 1960’s were my playground, the blue skies and cumulus clouds above me as I would lay in the grass of our half acre backyard of our 1930’s home in early Manhattan Beach, is where I learned to be in awe and humbled by Beauty. Those childhood moments shaped and created my visual vocabulary as an artist. Being a highly creative and sensitive child I was grateful to work along side my parents and siblings in our family business. We were wholesale flower growers. We grew a hybrid of the Aster flower. The colors of the fields of Asters were intense and imprinted in my memory. Those colors, the Light that framed the palette of these hybrids, to this day find their way into all of my very large “Contemplative Abstract Narrative Acrylic” paintings. (angelicasotiriou.com) The sublime silence of standing in those sun drenched fields of multi colored Asters as a child became my constant elixir that would continue to feed my creative perspective for all of my years as a career Artist.
Women, in our first generation Greek extended family, did not grow up to become “artists”! BUT, as a “creative” there was no other choice for me other than to become an artist. I had absolutely no choice. I was of the generation where Home-making and Typing were our only electives in junior high. In the 1970’s UCLA graduate school, where I received my Masters of Art and my Masters of Fine Arts, may have appeared to be more inviting to support women artists. Judy Chicago and her “Dinner Party”, the Women’s Center in Los Angeles tenaciously carved a pin-hole in the glass ceiling. But, it was still a “good-old-boys-club” in Los Angeles. I was able to meet and work with wonderful artists. Lee Mullican was an incredible mentor for my work as a graduate student where I was given license to shape my spiritual perspective as a springboard to my future works. Also was the artist Laddie John Dill who continually gave me the freedom to trust my vision as an artist. Their unbridled accolades, respect and support gave me confidence to continue as a artist long after graduate school was finished. When I left graduate school I became my own advocate. I never managed to find that “art rep”…I had some wonderful shows and my works were and are collected nationally and internally…But, I soon was overwhelmed and had not the desire to go to the many art opening to meet those who might help my career. I was far more of an introvert than I realized. I just wanted to spend whatever time I had in my studio, creating. As a young artist, mother, wife, daughter it became clear for me that my life was to be all about balance. It was not always easy. But, what I have learned is that after six plus decades I never stopped growing as an artist, I never stopped making art (even if it was a daily entry in my sketchbook). I never have seen myself as anything but as an artist who is able to wear many hats. No one just becomes an artist. You either are an artist or you are not. Your understanding, your lens is always through the eyes of an artist. My works have been visual documents, sign posts of the decades of who and where I was spiritually, intellectually, what responsibilities defined my days and what life-passages were shaping my days and my art work. Today, finally, every part of me embraces every role, every shelved dream, every struggle, every success, every shortcoming, every clear-as-a-bell opinion, every moment of BEAUTY, every moment of silence…it is all good. Today, (pre-COVID) I have used the gallery space in my studio to invite and show the works of other mid to late career artists who have spent their lives tenaciously making their art, diligently in their studios because they know no other voice. There is an unspoken, shared understanding among this group of working artists…we understand how we arrived at this chapter in our careers…and we can genuinely smile to one another with that all-knowing smile of artists of our generation.
To quote the gifted writer, Genie Davis from her published article in response to visiting my studio on February 2020, “Transcendent – The Art of Angelica Sotiriou – San Pedro ArtWalk”.
“Her paintings have a mystical, magical quality that draws the viewer into her unique vision.
‘It’s my voice. I’ve known since I was a child, the only way I can survive is my art. It’s my world,’ Sotiriou says. Working with acrylics, she considers herself a contemplative, narrative painter. ‘My work – I get lost in it. It’s like little portals have opened.’ Viewed, this makes perfect sense. Spend any time looking at the paintings and there is the sensation of being pulled into the paintings.
“All my pieces have to do with looking for light,” Sotiriou relates. Viewing her paintings with their mix of deep blues, rich gold, and shimmering white, she has found it. There is a dimensional quality to her work that reaches beneath the surface of the canvas, and exudes spirituality. The golds and blues have the resonance of 12th Century icons that have time traveled to the present. When first viewed, we were unaware that the artist was raised in a Greek Orthodox family, or that she had incorporated her religious faith into her paintings. And yet, knowing none of this, to the viewer, her work radiantly expresses pure faith, wonder, and belief. Possibly the best way to describe these pieces is transcendent.”
Please visit my website to see more works.
LOFT2 2nd Floor Gallery and Studios 401 South Mesa, San Pedro, open on SAN PEDRO ARTS DISTRICT, FIRST THURSDAY Art walk
Video interview, RECongress 2021
I have gone full circle.
For the first twenty years as a young artist I created large narrative bas-relief figurative sculptures. Working in such a large format required tremendous physical tenacity, which took its toll and, as if by “plan”, brought me back to where my art began many years ago. Over the last two decades, drawing and painting, line and color, contemplative compositions have become my ‘voice’ again.
My recent drawings and paintings from the last two decades have been a personal journey of uncovering and revealing pathways, windows and portals of light and of spirit. Inspired by the Byzantine process of iconography, my paintings have adopted the multi-layered application of paint starting from the darkest value finishing with the lightest value. My painting process is a tenacious pilgrimage on a quest to reveal the light in my works.
These days, when I face my canvas, I seem to be standing on a precipice. I am a witness to voyeuristic conversations exchanged between my mind, my heart and my artist hand. Each new work has illuminated another section of a path that takes me further into un-chartered visceral silence. Creating these works has become a wordless cry to find my way back home again.
I am grateful.
~Angelica Sotiriou, 2017
Contemplative Narrative Paintings
(Acrylic on Canvas)
1974 – Currently
Angelica Sotiriou holds a Masters of Arts degree and a Masters of Fine Arts degree graduating Cum Laude from the University of California at Los Angeles. Angelica studied under the tutelage of artists Lee Mullican, Laddie John Dill, Tom Wudl and Ian Colverson.
Angelica Sotiriou has been exhibiting her art and teaching art in Los Angeles and the greater communities of California for over four decades. She has worked as a sculptor, creating narrative figurative bas-reliefs and currently creating large “contemplative narrative” acrylic paintings. Her works are in private and public collections of various individuals and organizations, of which are, The Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts, (Los Angeles), Kim Wang and Associates, (New York), Linda Balahoutis (New York), Orange County Art Museum, The Terranea Resort (Palos Verdes), The Francisco Martinez Dance Theater (Los Angeles), Jerry Bruckheimer (Los Angeles) and Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Redondo Beach).
She has exhibited her works in various venues worthy of mentioning. Those art venues are; Takeuchi Galleries (Los Angeles Artwalk), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, HAMA(Venice), Boritzer/Gray Gallery(Santa Monica), Sam Francis Gallery(Santa Monica), The Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Manhattan Beach Cultural Arts Center, RE Congress (Anaheim), Fuller Theological Seminary, Brehm (Pasadena), Occidental College, The California State Universities of-Los Angeles, Dominguez, Fullerton, The Universities-U.C.L.A., UC Santa Cruz, Art Centers- The Irvine Fine Arts Center, Palos Verdes (Beckstrand), SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center, Venice) , The Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts, L.A., San Francisco Art Institute, Colleges-El Camino College and College of the Canyons.
Angelica has been an active and exhibiting artist in the San Pedro community since 2001, showing at Studio 343, Angels Gate Cultural Center, Findings, White Box Gallery, VTB Studio and 2nd. Floor Gallery. Angelica currently has a studio/gallery (Loft2, 2nd. Floor Gallery) in San Pedro and recently/currently served(s) as Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, artist-in-residence and public artist for the Arts Council for the city of Long Beach, Angels Gate Cultural Arts Center-Artist Residency, Art consultant for Professional Development Programs for LAUSD, Cerritos Arts Center, The Getty, LACMA, MOCA and art specialist for Angels Gate High, Wildwood, Crossroads and the Port of Los Angeles High.