B'Beth Weldon and Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki meet in Athens at artistic and cultural crossroads... An American artist in  Greece. Written by Despina Syrpoulos, “Women Bridging Worlds.“

Two women from two different countries - the first from the United States of America, the second from Greece - both distinguished artists, unite their energy, and colors to celebrate art. B’Beth Weldon and Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki meet in Athens at the Ikastiklos Kiklos Sianti Gallery, an artistic and multimodal crossroads for a joint-exhibition that will last until April 14th. They have both been awarded international prizes and their works are found in public spaces and private collections internationally. Deciding about a year before, and having previously collaborated in various museums in the USA- their meeting here in Athens was the site of their joint-exhibition. In their own unique and authentic way, Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki and B'Beth Weldon expose and imprint on the canvas stimuli, by recruiting images which are primarily the source of their inspiration. When decoding the work of Mina Papatheodorou-Valyraki, Italian art critic Giuliano Serafini said  "The detail highlights the gesture, the memory of the actions that summarize the space and the time required for creation. Many of her other paintings have their own autonomy, the result being a complete work on its own.”  Art Historian and Archaeologist Margarita Drilla, commenting on the meeting of the works of the two artists, notes: "Both Mina and B’Beth create works that stretch in four directions: length, width, depth and duration. They manage to unite into one work the

three dimensions of the space - the width, height of the horizon from the surface of their canvas and the length or otherwise depth that’s created, then add the dimension of time: Mina with the velocity emitted by its theme - the speed is defined by the time that a body spends in the time unit - and B’Beth with her transcendent images which dismiss any sense of instantaneousness.”

I first met B’Beth a few days before the opening of their joint-exhibition for a sunny breakfast in Athens.  After the praiseworthy comments on this project and her personality by a common friend, and having looked at her work in detail, I was impressed by her use of blues and many other shades that dominated many of her works.  She states of her paintings with a particular humility, “ I aim for a clear and fresh look, and my goal is to express it.”  

With her heavy curriculum and schedule, Mrs. Weldon in a short time described herself, her work, the exhibition as well as her affinity for Greece. She may have degrees in Business Administration, and Arts and Humanities, but her contact with painting began at the age of four. "My first memories are painting with my mother who was an artist.  The canvases and the white paper made for lessons and built a strong foundation for my art.”  For many years after her studies, painting was a parallel activity with her business activity. She was in the business world full time until 12 years ago when her daughter Megan left for studies in London. This was the time when she decided to sell her businesses (though she still resides in the USA) and start painting ...as a full time artist!

She draws on inspiration from her childhood, nature, sports, animals,  and adventures .  "My paintings make me happy and I get lost in them. My goal as an artist is to focus on my works by highlighting the innocence, freedom, and beauty each theme represents.  I’d like the viewer to be transported into the moment portrayed, go deep inside themselves and to forget their anxiety.”  Can art, therefore, be or function therapeutically?  Really not the question of many, but for the American painter things are very clear. “It’s simple. I'm a painter and may not be able to know if it works therapeutically for the public, but it's definitely a charming situation. My aim is for the public to enjoy my works and to remember those periods in their past that were less stressful.”

"I like Greece very much, and I like its people. Greece has been a recent source of inspiration for my works. The various blues of the sea and it’s landscapes."  With B’Beth, Greece is not unknown. She has visited many times in addition to her recent travels since 2016 when her daughter Megan moved to Athens for Greek studies. So, every opportunity when B’Beth can, she visits Greece!

At this point, she makes a comparison between her work and the work of Mina Papatheodorou-Valyrakaki.  “If anyone talked about our work, they would refer to light, color, and energy they exude.  In our joint-exhibition, we unite our countries, our art and meet at these crossroads.”

Over the years both she and Mina have been active in different countries on many different levels. Today, they meet in Athens, knowing one another's work, and nurturing the respect and admiration for the work of each other."  Far from certain points that come close to concrete stereotypes about how the notion of "art" is perceived and shared by the Common, B'Beth Weldon puts it very simply: "It's like wine; when you try it, you may like it, or you may not. This is also the case when you are in front of a work of art- it’s subjective, ...you may like it or you may not. " 

As far as the Athens exhibition, she expresses her goal by saying, “...what I would like to see with this exhibition is as many pairs of eyes as possible. Even the eyes of those unfamiliar with art. It is an interesting and powerful exhibition and I hope the public will enjoy the colors and energy.”  As for the future, the American artist plans to continue her art exhibitions and teaching her workshops abroad.

Amanda Comer