Mary Grigoriadis, a founding member of the A.I.R. Gallery, credits her participation in the early years of A.I.R. as a turning point in her career, offering her the opportunity to work and exhibit with a group of talented, ambitious women artists who took the daring step of starting the first women’s art gallery in the United States. Grigoriadis’s richly hued, oil on linen paintings, which she referred to as ‘secular icons’, integrate poly-ethnic patterned borders using sources as diverse as Byzantine and American Indian art. She applies layer upon layer of paint to build up a sumptuous, glowing surface of varnished brushstrokes which stand out in contrast to the neutral raw linen support. She describes her work as "a paean to beauty, opulence and order."
Grigoriadis's unconventional use of materials and imagery caught the attention of reviewers and other artists working with patterning in the mid-seventies, at the very inception of the Pattern Painting Movement. Her work was included with other Pattern and Decoration artists such as Joyce Kozloff, Mimi Schapiro and Robert Kushner, in the early Pattern Painting show curated by John Perrault at P.S. #1 in 1977. Deeply rooted in her personal background, these secular icons not only refer to the ornate patterning in Byzantine mosaics and icons, but also explore the universal use of pattern in art history, architecture, and in women’s crafts from numerous western and nonwestern cultures.
A recent theme in her work has been the integration of pattern into an architectural form. Intrigued by current research at Harvard about the incorporation of polychrome sculpture into the architecture of ancient Greece, particularly in the Acropolis, Grigoriadis embarked on her Portal Series, initially as works on paper and subsequently in oil on wood panels. Her recent pieces present pristine patterned compositions in vivid colors around an open center which functions as an entrance to the space beyond the surface. They are decorative without apology.
Grigoriadis’s paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in venues such as: The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Aldrich Museum, the Queens Museum, the U.S. Embassies in Belgrade, Pretoria, Cape Town and Athens, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, Greece, the Kresge Art Museum, The Bronx Museum of Arts, and The American Academy of Arts and Letters. They are included in numerous public collections such as: The Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU, the Chase Manhattan Bank Art Collection, the Parrish Art Museum, the U.S. Embassy Annex in Athens, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Vorres Museum, the Derfner Museum, the Guild Hall Museum, the Smithsonian Museum, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Eminent art historians and critics such as Hayden Herrera, Joan Marter, John Perreault, April Kingsley and Corrine Robins have written about her work.