The genesis of Paint for Georgia (an annual International painting festival held in Mtskheta, Georgia, was in Klaipeda, Lithuania, in 2012.
“Isroildzon Baroti and Ieva Vedeikaite of Baroti Gallery created CROSSINGS, an international art project that used the concept of migration (of people and venue) to extend cultural, artistic and personal borders. It was established as a network of artists and cultural organisations across Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. This initiative is based on public artistic process and concentrates on interpersonal and social communication”*
One of the invited artists was Giorgi (George) Tabliashvili, a Georgian painter, illustrator and designer from Tbilisi, Georgia. George and Ieva (a media and installation artist from Lithuania, became friends and talked about bringing a similar festival to Georgia.
Giorgi & Irakli Tabliashvili, Ieva Vedeikaite
In 2012 the first Connections, Paint for Georgia residency/exhibit took place in the historical city of Mtskheta. It has evolved and grown year by year. Soon, George’s brother Irakli Tabliashvili, a well known and respected journalist and broadcaster came on board as co-cordinator.
This year, 2015, they host artists from India, Canada, Egypt, Lebanon, Poland, Holland, Iceland, Georgia and England. Ieva now lives in Iceland (no longer with the Baroti Gallery), and has joined us this year as a participant.
I heard about the festival from fellow artist Cindy Mersky. She had nothing but praise for the festival, for George, and for the country of Georgia in general.
Paint for Georgia 2015 Artists
Today, six days into the ten day residency, I can tell you that I think the concept, and especially the spirit behind it, was a brilliant one. Yes, it is called a painting residency, but this year we also have a photographer and a media artist, and somehow, there is a place for them. They are integral members of our group.
We are working in a public venue; our paintings leaning against the house across the street from our hotel. It’s quietly active. Local people amble by occasionally, others make a special visit to see us at work. The weather is beautiful and conducive to creating outdoors.
In my last post, I touched on Georgian hospitality. And how better to foster interpersonal and social communication than through sitting down together around a table three times a day; sharing thoughts, stories of home, our art, much laughter, and of course, endless plates of cheese, khachipuri, cups of tea and glasses of wine?
In Georgia, there is the Tamada. Traditionally in mixed groups is “he” (among us non-traditional artists it is “she” as well) The Tamada is the toastmaster/host at the table. The toasts are philosophical, thoughtful and poetic, often rambling improvisations. The Tamada can make another member of the party Alaverdi, asking them to give a toast. At our meals, we have each been honoured with the Alaverdi role; with themes such as freedom, friendship, artistic bonds, future artists and, again, friendship. It is a beautiful thing.
If I were to give a rôle to each of our organisers, I would say George is the heart and soul, Irakli is the dynamic machine that makes things happen, Ieva is a sort of guardian angel who quietly appears and patiently helps you untangle whatever needs untangling. And finally, I’ve been told that the quiet power behind the scenes that keeps everyone going and on track is George and Irakli’s mother, Marina.
And so here we continue to paint, eat, drink wine, paint, tour incredible ancient sites, eat, drink more wine, tell stories, and paint.
I short, what I call Good Old Creative Living.
* from the “CROSSINGS 2013” catalogue.