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Weaving art

Gloversville artist overseeing project that’s going to Proctors

April 10, 2011
By RODNEY MINOR , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - For city resident Pavlos Mayakis, weaving presents endless possibilities.

"I could spend my whole life and not learn all the weaves or surface design techniques there are," he said.

Mayakis, 52, recently has been sharing his love of loom-controlled shibori weaving with students at the Yates Arts in Education Magnet School in Schenectady. He is overseeing the creation of a large piece of art that will hang in Proctors Theater as a gift from the school.

Article Photos

Gloversville resident?Pavlos Mayakis weaves at his home Wednesday.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor

Mayakis said he has discovered many of the children seem to enjoy weaving and are excited about the project. He laughs when he recalls children who saw him yelling "We love you, Pavlos," during their recess one day.

"It will look like a professional art installation," Mayakis said. "The wonderful thing is it will be constructed by children."

Mayakis, who was born and raised in Albany, had no idea he would learn anything about weaving when he moved to California when he turned 18.

It was while working in the Golden State over the years that he first saw demonstrations of weaving.

"I was amazed at the complexity of it," Mayakis said. "I wondered how they did it."

However, it was a trip to the land of his ancestors, Greece, that led him down the path to pursuing a career in art.

Mayakis said he wanted to express the colors he saw in Greece - the blues, greens and stark whites - but not do clay or ceramics.

Reflecting time

At his website - -Mayakis notes his art also reflects the passage of time.

"How time gathers and pulls on the threads of memory, leaving patterns on the surface of things: our skin, the skin of the earth, the topography of life," his artist's statement on the website said.

The complexity of weaving intrigued Mayakis, so he enrolled in his first class in January 1998.

As part of earning his certificate in weaving and textiles from Mendocino College, in Ukiah, Calif., he had to take a surface design course.

Mayakis said it turned out to be a blessing. Given that he was learning weaving and making mistakes, it spurred in him the idea to change the material after it was of the loom.

"At this point, it's hard for me to separate the weaving, dying or other surface design [in my creations]" Mayakis said.

Indeed, his own business card lists him as an interdisciplinary artist, and as a painter, weaver and dyer.

Holly Brackmann, a retired professor who taught art history and textiles at Mendocino College, called Mayakis one of the stars of her teaching career. Even as a student, she said, he was always open to trying new techniques and combining them in unusual ways.

"[Mayakis] went beyond what he learned at workshops," Brackmann said.

Mayakis' work typically involves him weaving supplemental weft threads into the textile he is making. The threads are then pulled tight for dying or some other surface design treatment. He normally then pulls out the extra threads and does more work on his creation.

"It kind of blurs the line between weaving and painting," Mayakis said. "It could even be called a soft sculpture because it is slightly three-dimensional."

It did not take long for Mayakis to find success. As a news release from 2008 on the Mendocino?College website - - notes, Mayakis was awarded the Foundations Scholarship of Promise and the Full-Time Faculty Scholarship. Since then, Mayakis has won numerous awards and had his artwork displayed at many exhibitions. He also has taught at a variety of venues across the United States and internationally.

Locally, the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network will have a "Meet the Artist" reception for Mayakis at the Northville Public Library at 6 p.m. Sept. 13, according to its website at

Mayakis - who has earned a bachelor's degree from Skidmore College in Saratoga County and a master's degree from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. - was contacted in January about overseeing an art project for the Yates school.

Proctors has supported the schools in?Schenectady over the years, Mayakis said, so the school wanted to do a project as a way to thank the theater.

Richard Roe, program resource manager, at the Yates school, said he thought of Mayakis for the project because his work best met the projects needs, which included getting all the students involved and fitting the project in the space Proctors has available.

"It's a very interesting way to create art," he said.

What Mayakis came up with involves the students weaving a 12-inch-by-12-inch square for each student. One side will be a student's name, embellished with beads, and on the others, there will be an individual note by the student expressing gratitude to Proctors, he said.

The squares will then be threaded together, and hang from the second floor of Proctors down to the first.

Mayakis said he focused on teaching weaving to the students, and oversaw them starting to teach other students how to weave.

However, he said, he has enjoyed most the surprises and interest the students have shown out of the project.

Another story he describes is of one student telling a teacher while weaving "This is the best day of my life."

Roe said the project is going "great."

"We're weaving every day," he said.

The project is scheduled to be unveiled at Proctors Theater on June 17. It will be shown at the school before then, but the date for that has not been determined yet.

For Mayakis, the city - where his great-grandparents operated a diner on South Main Street in the 1930s - is home. He enjoys living near the Adirondacks and teaching art at the various local venues.

Weaving is something he finds relaxing, and provides him with a sense of pride. He is taking part in an activity stretching back hundreds of years. As Mayakis points out, mankind has always had some basic needs: food, shelter and clothing. Weaving can help provide the latter.

"It is an art form that is functional," he said.

Brackmann said Mayakis continues to push the envelope by staying on top of the latest developments in the textile art scene, and combining them to make work uniquely his own.

"He bridges the gap between people in textiles and people in painting," she said.

For more information about Mayakis, visit his website at



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