Cher, Madonna, Picasso… And Karolina

A young American student named Carol Wells set out after art school for a backpacking trip to Europe.

Carol Wells visited numerous fabled cities and countrysides, making her way across the continent. She stayed for weeks and months at time, painting in Austria, Paris and other European cities.

In 1963 she took a boat from Italy to Greece, making her way to Mykonos.

Almost six decades later Karolina— yes, she’s now known globally by a single name— can be found at the yialo, Mykonos’ bustling waterfront, selling her whimsical watercolors next to the fishermen and flower vendors.

She, too, was lured by the color and light— that unexplainable magic spell that this island puts on certain people.

Karolina now spends her summers painting in a small workshop in town and selling her paintings at the port in the mornings.

Photo provided by George Menzelos

I first met Karolina at Kesaris Jewelry Shop one evening years ago when I was captivated by the visual of a gray-haired woman, wearing a Greek fisherman’s cap, straddling one of the most colorful, beautiful and fun paintings I had ever seen.

There’s an old saying that I’ve heard repeatedly on the island that “a home isn’t a good one unless there’s a Karolina hanging on the wall.”

Her paintings are everywhere, not only on the island at various homes, exclusive villas and restaurants, but throughout the world.

I’m the proud owner of two Karolina paintings that I cherish as amongst my most prized pieces in my art collection.

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