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Macedonia in my home
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I made my home in Macedonia for seven years, from the summer of 1996 through the summer of 2003 when I bought my own home in Tucson, Arizona.  When I moved in, I shipped seven years’  worth of Macedonian purchases back to Tucson.  Even since then, I’ve made purchases in Macedonia and brought them back to my home (and office) to remind me of my Macedonian home.  Let me take you on a tour of my home and office and show you the sights, sounds and tastes of Macedonia in Tucson.

One of the first things you’ll notice in my home is a number of stained and fused glass pieces, including six lamps.  The other pieces include candles in various shapes and sizes, photo frames and the Star of Vergina created as a wall hanging, round and fused.  All of this art comes from my friends Mimi and Janko Gogushevski of Vitrum Studio.  Mimi and Janko are both architects by training but have been operating Vitrum Studio since 1999.  They started their studio making beautiful glass creations with stained glass – cutting various pieces of different colored glass into different shapes and then soldering them together to create a lampshade, candle holder, picture frame, mirror, just about anything.  A few years later they branched out into fused glass – essentially those same pieces of colored glass created in the shape of something but then fused – melted – together.

Their works are truly works of art.  The lamp shades, for instance, are all four-sided but of different styles, colors and designs.  My favorite is one which has both the Star of Vergina on one panel and the current Macedonian flag on another panel, both bleeding off into the other two panels.

In my living room I have two painted pictures, oil on canvas, one by a mother and the other by her son.  Snezana Zafirovska has painted traditional strings of red peppers hanging from the rafter of an old stone home.  The whole work is a close-up of the peppers against the stones and reminds me of many villages I have been to throughout Macedonia.  Next to it, her son, Aleksandar Zafirovski, has painted another traditional scene of a hand-crafted wooden ladder against the wall of an old stone home, a red cloth bag hanging over one of the rungs of the ladder and a pair of black cloth socks hanging over another.

Entering my home, in the hallway entrance, is a large, round mirror with a wood frame.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember the artist, but when I saw it first for sale, I knew I had to purchase it.  The wood frame is in the shape of a sun with 56 very small points – rays, essentially – circling it.  The wood is stained a copper/bronze stain and gives off the feeling of the Macedonian sun.

On one wall in my living room I have several other items to remind me of Macedonia: an icon of Mary, mother of God, a metal candle holder, a papier-mâché mask of a human face in Macedonia’s colors – red and yellow – a painted wooden panel by Macedonian artist whose name escapes me and a few other items. I also have a painting, as yet unframed, from Ohrid by Macedonian artist Marija Bozdogan – it is a scene of Ohrid Old Town looking over the lake and it is a riot of color.

Moving over to my office, about 16 kilometers from my home, I have several Macedonian pieces of art.  The main attraction is a 181 cm x 152 cm masterful painting on canvas, entitled “Christ Before Pilate.” It was painstakingly painted by fresco conservationist Momcillo Trajkovski in 2003 and is an exact reproduction of a fresco from the monastery of St. Nikola in Varosh, near Prilep.

Next to it is a stunningly beautiful calendar of the Macedonian Orthodox Church created by my friend Mile Bilbilov.  It is large format and each month depicts a picture of a Macedonian saint or church each photo expertly shot stunning in detail.  Other Macedonian objects adorn an entire wall of my office – a copy of the Golden Mask from Ohrid, a reproduction of a terra cotta tile from Vinica and a glass cross from Vitrum Studio.  Of course a small Macedonian flag sits next to the flags of Arizona and the United States of America.

Back at home, I have Macedonian music, films and books to delight my senses.  Vlado Janevski was the first Macedonian artist that tickled my ears.  But I also have Vlatko Stefanovski, AREA, Dule and Koki, Synthesis and of course, Tose, among a few others.  The films are, of course, by Milcho Manchevski and the books are mostly on history and, of course, Alexander the Great.

Finally, in my refrigerator, I have homemade mastika and rakija, as well as the well-known mastika and rakija from Grozd and Bovin.  And I can always whip up a tarator or shopska salad to go with either.

I have many items in my home and office to remind me of my Macedonia, which I don’t get to visit nearly as often as I would like.  But these few works of art help to remind me of Macedonia, my Macedonian friends and family and why I do what I do for Macedonia.

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Jason Miko
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