Carol Veliotis has spent a lifetime in pursuit of her passion for the arts. She continues to enrich the fabric of her hometown through sharing her unique vision, supplying one-of-a-kind handiwork and mentoring countless others who see the world as a canvas.
Newton Countians walking down the sidewalk who come across a piece of wire or broken glass might want to think twice before they toss it aside. Carol Veliotis could use it in one of her creations.
Oftentimes when she returns home or opens her door to walk outside, she discovers that friends have left her something that others might consider trash. Veliotis was born to be an artist.
“Every day, I find something,” she said. “One day, a long time ago, I saw a twisted piece of metal on the ground and I thought it was like a sculpture, so I started picking them up.”
Veliotis uses broken jewelry, wood pieces and glass—she once utilized an antique copper toilet float—to create sculptures and pieces. Some she sells. Others she enters in contests.
“I work on art every day—something,” said Veliotis, whose home is filled with pieces she has made over the years. “My whole life has been about art.”
“My whole life has been about art.”Carol Veliotis
A 1965 graduate of Newton High School, she was always interested in art but never could find much in which to partake around Covington in her younger years. She took some private lessons and drew for her high school newspaper. That was the extent of her pursuits.
“Growing up here in Covington,” Veliotis said, “there was nothing, no culture.”
Lack of opportunity drove her to look elsewhere. Eventually, she majored in art at a college in North Carolina, then moved to New York to work for an art book publisher. There, she met famous artists like Norman Rockwell and Howard Finster and drew pieces as a graphic designer. Later, Veliotis moved to Greece for 15 years and spent time inspiring and mentoring her nephew, who now has an art gallery there.
“Their house was an art hub and I didn’t realize it then, but it had a big impact to my world afterwards. I still remember their [Saul] Steinberg painting that shaped my mind and style,” said Socrates “Sox” Argitis, who took in Veliotis’ art books, work and supplies after she moved back oversees. “Carol is a born artist and gave me—without even us both knowing then—an art seed.”
The two lost touch over the years but have now reconnected virtually, sharing their work and passion. Art, they learned, builds bridges.
“Whenever we were making a new piece, we were showing it to each other [and] getting feedback, and that was a super creative new perspective and [presented] new possibilities for evolving our art,” Argitis said. “Carol doesn’t just do art. She lives through art, and that’s the only way to live if you are a born artist. We have that in common and we can get into any topic that seems non-artistic, but eventually, it’s connected.”
In the late 1980s until around 2000, Veliotis ran an art studio in an upstairs building on The Square in downtown Covington, where she taught hundreds of children and adults over the years about drawing, pastels, watercolor, acrylics and various other art forms. Of those she taught, one now manages a children’s art museum, two are art teachers, one works as an international arts salesperson and one became a brain surgeon. In the early 2000s, she managed her own gallery on Floyd Street, representing nearly 100 artists, and created a mural for the City of Covington Welcome Center. Veliotis’ fingerprints are all over her hometown.
“She’s an amazing creative spirit and very open to conversation and sharing ideas,” said local artist Brenda Bostian. “I find inspiration in our conversations. Our work is different
from each other, but a common element for us is our passion for the arts.”
Veliotis currently teaches private art lessons from her home for a few students and takes on some commissioned pieces from time to time. She continues to create projects, her favorite being sculptures. She also works on paintings and cards, either to enter into contests or to sell at Southern Heartland Art Gallery on The Square and the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts.
“It feels really good to make art,” Veliotis said. “It feels good to have somebody love it and want it.”