This quintessential photograph is a strong reminder – both literally and symbolically – of where Minás Konsolas came from. It is of his mother, in a moment that can never be recreated, in their family home in Olymbos Karpathos, Greece.
The phrase, “Go West, young man,” attributed to the founder of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, was always in Minás’s plans in his early years. So, after he had completed his mandatory service in the Greek Army, that is exactly what he did. In fact, he followed in the footsteps of a procession of family members who had gone west. His uncle was a World War II volunteer; his older sister was married to a Greek-American; his younger sisters followed; and Minás’s turn came in 1976. Back then, it wasn’t as tough as it is now, and he was able to come legally, with a green card. Within five years, as soon as he was eligible to apply, he became a U.S. citizen, and he “feels great” about his status. For him, the strangest part has been that the community he left behind in Greece recreated itself in Baltimore. As he says, “I was not the only one to leave the Village…”
The full quote by Horace Greeley is, “Go west young man, and grow up with the country,” and it’s what Minás has done in the 40 years he has lived in America – the longer part of his life. Minás is a painter. After he graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art – the best part of being here, he says, is that he went to an art college and met his wife of 20 years, Peggy Hoffman – he established Minás Gallery, one of Baltimore’s alternative art spaces. Situated above his vintage clothing boutique in Hampden, his gallery was a gathering spot for local artists, writers, and performers to find an outlet for poetry, both visual and verbal.
When Minás closed down the gallery after 22 years, it was so that he could devote himself to painting full time. “I am most at home in front of my canvas!” he says. This, of course, begs the question of where home is for him now. “My adopted home is here in the city I love for it’s diversity, Baltimore.” But he adds, “Greece will always be a big part of me. I miss family, friends, and all things you cannot recreate.” Like that moment with his mother in their family home in Olymbos Karpathos.