When I was small, my god-parents traveled frequently and while visiting us, Julie would also be en route to one of her latest gallery openings. Cities like Paris and London seemed so far away to me then, a distant dream into the future. But visiting them consistently was a reality for my god-mother. Once, when I was 10, she was part of an exhibition happening in Toronto and the whole family went downtown to go see her. Memories of that night stayed with me.
She set the bar high for visions of what I hoped to accomplish someday, even though I grew up to become a writer. Travel, art and self-expression? What wasn't to love, or admire, about a life lived with such passion? Our closeness also meant, of course, that there would always be someone in the family who understood me. And then, as soon as I could, I accepted Julie's offer of staying with her and her husband the summer before my final year of university.
Now, three years after that visit, the smells of watermelon, tea, oil and the scent of the salty ocean come flooding back whenever I think about walking into her studio, the place where it all starts.
In addition to her role as god-mother, Julie is also a grandma these days, so whenever she travels to set up a gallery, it is usually local. But traveling all over Greece, with paintbrush in hand still makes her one of the most amazing and inspirational women I've known. In different ways, she's taught me art is life and when you continue to work hard, a blank canvas is only the beginning