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Greeks Gone West: Meet George Zisiadis, the artist from Astoria who became the “happiest artist in San Francisco."

18 December 2015

Interactive artist George Zisiadis is a San Francisco institution. He's the latest in a chain of locals who have made the city famous for mind-blowing happenings. Recently he's done events that involve bubbles, beating hearts, balloons, and small mobile stages that are like miniature itinerant parks. His works are diverse yet always involve the audience getting immersed in the experience.

Born and raised in Astoria, the legendary Greek-American community in Queens, NY, he regularly visited his parents' hometown of Salonica while he was growing up. After high school at the very competitive Stuyvesant High School, he went to Harvard.

In his own words...

On being a kid at heart:

"I think society vastly overestimates the degree to which we are all kids just lying around, with bigger clothes and bigger bodies...at heart we are all kids who love to play, who love being curious, who love excitement and adventure."

How they all began:

"I had this empty big loft and I thought, something fun needs to happen here, I felt almost guilty for having it all to myself. So I said let's fill it with balloons. But let's have motion sensitive lights, and then let's turn all the lights off and invite all the neighbors. For two days we had over two thousand people lining up to come experience the pitch black room full of balloons that would light up when you walked among them. From then on I just kept on doing similar projects and following this path until people started asking me to create more and more of them."

On his goals:

"A lot of what I'm trying to do is challenge reality and show that things don't actually need to be this way. Benches don't have to look this way, or public streets don't have to be so isolating. Reality is co-created and we can create something different if we are not satisfied with what's out there."

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