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Greek-Australian Cafe Culture

At the official launch of the 'Selling an American Dream: Australia's Greek Cafe' exhibition

Left to right: Leonard Janiszewski (historian/curator), Professor John Simons (Executive Dean of Arts, Macquarie University), George Souris (NSW Minister for the Arts), Vasileios Tolios (Greek Consul-General), Nia Karteris (Director ofthe Greek Festival of Sydney), Effy Alexakis (photographer/curator), Theodora Toumanidou-Tolios (Greek Vice-Consul).

The official launch of the 'Selling an American Dream: Australia's Greek Cafe' exhibition was simply amazing.

Over 300 invited guests crowding into the Macquarie University Art Gallery's exhibition space. The gallery was so full that a video feed into the vestibule area of the building was organised to accommodate the overflow of people. The Master of Ceremony for the night was the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie, Professor John Simons, who commented early on that the exhibition launch was one of the largest he had ever attended.

Speakers induded Nia Karteris, Director of the 2013 Greek Festival of Sydney, and actor/director and broadcaster, Lex Marinos, who officially opened the exhibition. Lex related his own experiences of growing up in his grandfather's cafe - the Bridge Cafe in Wagga Wagga - during the 1950s and very early l%0s, to the audience. His experiences both delighted and enthralled the gathering.

Guests included dignitaries such as: the NSW Minister for the Arts, the Honourable George Souris; the Greek Consul-General VasileiosTolios, the Greek Vice-Consul Theodora Toumanidou-Tolios; and well-known writer, Angelo Loukakis. Other artists, academics, mingled with past and present cafe owners and the general public.

On display were over 120 unique black and white historical and contemporary photos, as well as a diverse array of Greek Cafe ware and signage. A short film on the history of the Greek cafe in Australia, created by filmmaker Michael Karris, is also featured. Each photo in the exhibition is accompanied by an extended caption that tells the story of the cafe and/or the cafe proprietor or customer pictured.

The curators, photographer Effy Alexakis and historian Leonard Janiszewski, were kept very busy on the opening night giving thanks for the congratulations they received for mounting such a magnificent exhibition.

The exhibition will run until 1st May at the Macquarie University Art Gallery (Building E 11 A on the North Ryde campus).It will be open Monday to Friday from 10am - 5pm and on every Saturday in April from l0am - 4pm. Tel: 02 9850 7437.

A number of events have been organised at the gallery, including two lectures on the Greek cafe and milk bar by the curators - the lectures are on 11 and 23 April at lpm.

A Greek Cafe Forum is being held at the Greek Orthodox Community Centre in Lakemba on 17 April. For information about the Forum please ring: 02 9750 0440.

An 84 page catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Entry to the display is free.

Download a pdf version of this article here:

Launch Greek Cafes Effy and Leonard.pdf

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