Tag: art (page 2 of 2)

An Athens hidden gem: the TAF art space & café

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The Art Foundation in Athens

An art installation in one of the cool gallery spaces at metamatic: taf

 

 

Cool spaces: If you’d like to have a coffee or drink in a cool and truly unique setting, and have the opportunity to view contemporary art exhibitions at the same time, make plans to visit metamatic: taf (formerly called TAF: The Art Foundation) next time you’re in Athens.

One of the most fascinating cultural venues we’ve ever seen, metamatic: taf is an incredibly innovative multi-purpose facility that features cool gallery and performance art spaces along with a fabulous courtyard-café bar that received praise in the New York Times Magazine last year.

metamatic: taf is secluded inside a rustic old building at 5 Normanou Street in the Monastiraki flea market neighbourhood of Athens, and is so inconspicuous from the dingy, dark street that it’s almost hard to believe more than 200,000 people visit each year. Until you see what’s inside.

 

Our friend promised to show us something amazing

A friend showed us the place last October while we were on our way to a birthday party in the nearby Psirri neighbourhood. Leading us along a series of dark and narrow cobblestone streets, she promised there was something “amazing” that we just had to see while we were in the area. (Of course, we couldn’t help but wonder where the heck she was taking us, since the streets were practically vacant and everything appeared to be locked up tight.)

We had absolutely no idea what to expect when we stepped through a pair of wrought iron doors into a stone-walled, ground-level room that was almost empty.  The room had a few pieces of furniture, including two televisions that were both turned on, one displaying the words “super cool” above an image of a ceramic owl. We walked up a flight of stairs, turned a corner and found ourselves on a walkway overlooking the impressive courtyard café. I distinctly remember saying “Wow!” and thinking what a great place it would be to have a drink.

Our friend led us down the walkway, where windows and doors offered views into rooms housing a variety of interesting and provocative contemporary art installations. The works reminded me of art projects we had seen during some of the annual Nuit Blanche events back home in Toronto. After we spent a short period of time checking out the art displays, our friend led us through the courtyard — which was buzzing with dozens of people enjoying conversation over wine, beer and cocktails — and eventually back out to the street.

 

Look for a small, illuminated logo next to a doorway

When I asked “how the heck would anyone even know how to find this place,” our friend pointed to a small illuminated metamatic: taf logo on the wall next to the entrance gate. If we had been trying to find the place on our own, I think we probably would have walked past without even seeing the sign. Of course, it was obvious once it was pointed out to us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere because we had to join other friends for a birthday dinner celebration at a taverna. But next time we’re in Athens, we’ll see if we can find our way back.

If you need to be convinced that metamatic: taf is worth a visit, consider that it got good press in the New York Times Magazine. The magazine’s April 7 2013 food and drink edition included the feature A World of Secret Watering Holes, in which overseas-based New York Times reporters described “their most memorable drinking spots.” Correspondent Rachel Donadio’s pick for Athens reads: “It’s on a gritty street in downtown Athens, under the shadow of the Acropolis. At night, you have to wander through a shuttered flea market to find it. But inside, the Art Foundation, or TAF, is a hidden garden — a courtyard where trees are strung with lights; an oasis, young and alive.”

metamatic: taf also was profiled in an October 11 2013 article that Nelly Paraskevopoulou wrote for USA Today’s 10Best Travel Advice for Travelers website in October 2013.

You can obtain more information about the venue and its events by visiting the metamatic: taf Facebook page.

 

metamatic: taf in Athens

A small illuminated logo marks the location of the entrance to the metamatic: taf galleries and café-bar at 5 Normanou Street

 

 

metamatic taf in Athens

Televisions we saw inside the gallery & café entrance

 

 

metamatic: taf in Athens

The cozy courtyard café and bar

 

 

metamatic: taf Athens

A daytime view of the café courtyard. I found this photo on the metamatic: taf blog. The gallery and performance spaces are contained in the two level structure that encloses the courtyard. The rickety building looks like it’s ready to crumble, but its dishevelled appearance enhances the courtyard’s ambience and atmosphere, thanks to the café’s subtle nighttime lighting.

 

Take home a Mykonos ‘sugar cube’ house!

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Mykonos house souvenirs

Wooden Mykonos houses handcrafted by artist Eugenia Triantopoulou are available at Triciclo Art Shop in Mykonos Town

 

Super souvenirs: Brilliant white “sugar cube” houses with blue doors and window shutters are often the first images that come to mind for many people when someone mentions travelling to Greece.

It’s no surprise, of course, since a substantial proportion of travel guides, posters and tour brochures for Greece feature photos of the cute whitewashed houses as well as white churches with gleaming blue domed roofs — even though that particular style of architecture is found primarily in the Cyclades islands (but also in some villages in the Dodecanese and in a few other parts of the country).

The sight of white cube-shaped buildings clinging to barren brown rock hillsides is one of the features that tourists enjoy most about Mykonos in particular, since it boasts an extensive array of traditional Cycladic architecture both in Mykonos Town (one of the prettiest villages in all of the Greek Islands) and elsewhere on the island.

Mykonos visitors can now take one of the cute “sugar cube” houses home with them as a souvenir.  Local artist Eugenia Triantopoulou has created a collection of charming hand-made wooden houses which are available from Triciclo Art Shop in Mykonos Town.

Triciclo offers a variety of other hand-made gift items from a number of local artists. The shop is located a short walk behind the Mykonos Town Hall at 3 Voinovits Street, which is the lane that leads from one of the most popular restaurants on the island, Niko’s Taverna, to Skandinavian Bar, one of the most famous party clubs in all of Greece.

There’s more information and photos — as well as a map showing how to find the gallery — on the Triciclo Art Shop Facebook page.

 

Sharply-dressed Dromeas stands tall in Athens

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Dromeas glass sculpture in Athens

Dromeas (“Runner” in English) is a 12-meter-tall glass and iron sculpture created in 1994 by Athens artist Costas Varotsos

 

Sharp Dresser:  Athens may be one of the world’s safest cities, but you won’t want to run into a big Greek guy named Dromeas while you’re there — he would literally tear you to pieces.

Standing 12 meters tall (nearly 30 feet), Dromeas cuts a dashing figure at Megalis tou Genous Sholi square near the Hilton Athens Hotel on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue.  Created by noted Athens sculptor Costas Varotsos in 1994, Dromeas originally stood at Omonia Square, but was moved when construction commenced on the underground metro station there. Concerns that shakes and vibrations from subway building activity could damage the sculpture prompted his relocation to a triangular public square close to the Canadian Embassy.

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