Queens’ Greeks celebrate ‘Zorba’ in new art book
And as his fortunes grew, he also amassed a large and valuable art collection. A new book, "Anthony Quinn's Eye: A Lifetime of Creating and Collecting Art," celebrates Anthony Quinn, the artist. It's not an art book in the traditional sense, but rather a pastiche of essays, personal reminiscences and photographs meant to capture Quinn's creative spirit."Anthony Quinn's Eye" got a glitzy launch party at Elaine's in Manhattan last October. But Dino Pavlou, a friend of the Quinns, had a hunch there was another market for the book. Quinn's career-making role as Zorba made him a hero to many Greeks, and over the course of his life he made numerous Greek friends. So Pavlou hosted another party for the Greek community in Queens. Earlier this month, a group of several hundred of Pavlou's invited guests gathered in a lavish banquet room in Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for drinks, hors d'oevres and a short program of speeches and slides about Quinn and his art. George Makkos and James Kaloidis of Terrace on the Park sponsored the event.At any time during the evening, guests could buy a copy of "Anthony Quinn's Eye," a large coffee-table tome, for $75. Those who requested it could get their copy signed by Quinn's third wife, Katharine Quinn, who attended along with the couple's two children, Antonia, 11, and Ryan 8. Quinn has 11 other children from two previous wives and three mistresses.Katharine Quinn, dressed sharply in white pants and a crinkled gold blouse, appeared delighted with the surroundings. "It's a community feeling," she said, "and the space is gorgeous." Ironically, Quinn was not Greek. He was born in Mexico to a half-Irish father and Mexican Indian mother. But for many of the Greeks who came to Terrace on the Park, Quinn's actual ethnic background was immaterial. "Zorba" had a special place in their hearts, and as far as they were concerned, Anthony Quinn was Greek to them. "For years I believed Anthony Quinn was Greek," said Louis Stogianos, 48, a Long Island resident who runs a business in Queens. "I was shocked when I found out he was really Mexican. Another shock came when I realized he paints."Stogianos said he saw Anthony Quinn's artwork at a gallery in Soho years ago. "Now I regret I didn't buy something at that time," he said. This time, Stogianos made a purchase, and walked away with his own copy of "Anthony Quinn's Eye.""For us, Anthony Quinn is the ambassador of the Greek culture," said Macis Voutsinas, who sings and plays guitar at Dimitri's restaurant in Astoria.Voutsinas and his fellow musician Nikos Zygouris donated their services for the event. "We feel proud. We play for him," said Voutsinas. "We don't work for the money only."Voutsinas, a Greek immigrant, spoke warmly of Anthony Quinn. "He was a Mexican fellow living in America with a Greek heart. That's my expression," he added proudly. "A lot of Greeks think he's Greek. A lot of Americans think he's Greek," said Katharine Quinn. "It's because he was so wonderful at all the roles he played. He made every nation think they were a part of him."Pavlou concurred. In his opening remarks to the guests, he described Quinn as "the most famous Greek for not being Greek."Pavlou then handed the microphone to the master of ceremonies for the evening, Fox News meteorologist Nick Gregory. After his opening gambit, ("It's a great day in weather!") Gregory told a story of the time he asked Quinn for advice on playing the title role in a community production of "Zorba the Greek." Quinn pointed to his heart and said, "It's all in here."After a brief slide show of the Quinn estate in Bristol, R.I., Katharine Quinn addressed the crowd, saying that Quinn's enthusiasm for creating art never diminished with age. "He was always searching for something new, something he would do differently that day," she said.Katharine Quinn conceived of the book along with the graphic designer Malcolm Grear after her husband's death. Since finding a publisher proved difficult, she published the book herself under the auspices of Bristol House Press in 2004. Norton later agreed to distribute it. The lavish, coffee-table volume, an 11 by 14 inch hardcover, contains images of Quinn's estate in Bristol, its rooms filled with paintings, masks, figurines and sculptures. Fans of Quinn the screen legend will be happy to see images of him on film sets and as a young man, staring pensively into the camera. Other photos show him in his artistic vicissitudes: There's a shadowy shot of Quinn painting a nude, and an image of Quinn sculpting with power tools, surrounded by flying sparks. Quinn's own art is intermingled with these images. His work ranges from abstraction to vigorous, earthy naturalism. Most striking are Quinn's self portraits. In "Zorba," Quinn painted himself as the character he played on film.The book contains a glowing appraisal of Quinn's life and work by Katharine Quinn, and the actor Kirk Douglas also provides a short tribute. Essays by Donald Kuspit, Jay Parini and Tom Roberts, three writers and academics, offer perspective on Quinn's singular creative drive. The book is dedicated to Katharine and Anthony Quinn's two children. "It's a wonderful way for me to keep him alive for them," she said.
©2005 Community News Group