There's a very cool, authentic little Greek restaurant in Fraser Lake but we didn't discover it until a few years back because it's in a double wide trailer with its featureless back to Highway 16. One afternoon (we must have been feeling terribly adventurous) we drove the half block off the highway to check out the fronts of a few of these little businesses and the north side of the building proved unexpectedly inviting. Once inside we finally discover Stavros - our local, authentic export/expat from Greece - and his bounty of Greek cuisine. Vegetables from a large garden next door filled the soups he crafted each day or two or sat in as sides on Mediterranean inspired main courses offered for dinner. Three or four guitars hung in a small room adorned with posters of Crete and he would bring these out to the patio to play old Greek melodies in the evening as warmth and twilight hung in the summer air.
We currently rent their sons' house (he was raised there so it's the original family home) and have been befriended by Stavros and Sandra which I consider a great honor. It was probably during the very first dinner we ever experienced in the restaurant, while savoring flavors of olives, lemon, onion and feta that I first swiveled my head around trying to figure out how to pitch a mural to Stavros: it had to have a mural. The smells and sounds (that accent!) of Crete had to be realized visually in some way larger than a poster.
Over the summer, once Sandra discovered my plan, I begun work on what I hoped was the most enticing slice of Crete that I could distill into 75 square feet. The project had taken on a bit of urgency as Stavros was undergoing chemo and suffering from the effects. His old friend Marcel Gagnon performed at the restaurant with a stellar group of musicians in August to acknowledge the years of support he had received there and I hoped to supply a visual equivalent so away I went down a rabbit hole of all things Creta - village, sea and sunshine.
How close I came...
Stavros never did see it and he slipped out of this world into the light and warmth of his beloved island one week ago today.
Before installation at the restaurant, the last step was to place the panels on the dining room table in order to access the edges and tops. For me - following years of anticipation and then months of design and obsession? - it's the emotional and artistic equivalent eerily similar to the Irish custom of placing the deceased's body on a table for the wake.
I have no idea if Sandra will ever open the doors to the restaurant again, but I will finish this.
Author: Eileen Hutson
'You need the dark to see the light'. Advice picked up in painting workshops has become a treasured mantra in both life and art.