Brett Taylor was a painter who attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia but fled the academic art scene for the romance of the Mediterranean. In 1966 he set sail for the Aegean and choose Paros to start a small independent summer program in the arts. Paros was undeveloped, with no electricity or running water in most houses. It was not on the tourist route and relatively obscure outside of Greece.
In the pure bright sun with a handful of students he started an experiment in education. His attitude toward the importance of place, the elimination of grading, and the comradeship of fellow artists still resonate through the philosophy of the school today. At his death in 1983 the school was run by Andy Whipple for a year before John Pack took over the directorship.
John Pack, the current director, came to Paros to teach photography in the winter of 1984. He had been teaching at the University of New Mexico after seven years living on the Navajo Indian Reservation. After a year in Paros he took over the directorship when Whipple returned to the States. John's exuberance and demand for a high standard in his craft resulted in a state-of-the-art darkroom. This has now translated into a top level digital lab as the technologies have advanced. His enthusiasm and search for beauty shows in all his aspects of the school, from the building itself to the Friday Hikes which have become a weekly ritual.
Eventually semester long programs took the place of the shorter summer sessions as the curriculum developed and grew. Our programs remain faithful to the original school as studio arts, classical literature, and art history are still mainstays of the program. The school changed its name from The Aegean School to The Aegean Center in 1992. The new neoclassical building on the main market street was purchased and refurbished in 2001 and given its colorful exterior. In 1990 John set up the Italy Session which takes place in Pistoia, Italy. Twenty four years later we are still in love, Pistoia!
Jeffery and Liz Carson have been teaching at the school nearly since its inception. They came to the island to pursue their art and then helped to create the rich and diverse program of classical underpinnings which mark the school as a unique place to study. Jeffrey is a poet and Liz a photographer.
Jane Morris Pack came as a student in 1984 and then returned to teach in 1986. With her influence the studio arts became more rigorous and concentrated on technique. She teaches printmaking, painting and drawing classes. She and John married in 1989 and their son, Gabriel, was born in 1992.
Jun-Pierre Shiozawa joined the faculty in 2008. He was a former student from 2001 when he stayed for a year. He attained his BFA from the University of Minnesota and has exhibited widely. He lived in Ireland for the last year working as a free lancer and attending artists residencies.
The Aegean Center continues to offer high level education and experiential learning to small groups of international students as it has done for 50 years. It has become an integral part of the island life and has opened its doors to many young local artists.
Please see the Aegean Center photo archive for more images and clippings over the past fifty years.