MOSCOW: ''There is no such thing as a former artist,'' said Alla, an embroidery artist who has been selling her work along the Moscow River for about five years. ''Artists will always try something new - either create something for their dacha or start a blog.''
Victor, 59, was sitting on a bench in the center of Minsk and I approached him to get his views on the city. He ignorned the questions and talked about his painting career. He said as a university student in USSR, he - like other students - was sent to a village to help with the potato harvest. While taking a break in a village house, he noticed a typical Belarusian rug with flower designs on a black background. The babushka let him take it. Twenty years later, he came across the rug amongst his stuff and it inspired a painting in his 'Snow in Black Square' series. The series itself is a play on 'Black Square' by Kazimir Malevich, who lived a few years in Belarus. Victor's site is: www.vitart.net
Oleg is a well-known character in Kursk, running a gallery showing off local artists including himsdlf. Oleg was dressed in a denim jeans jacket, bell-bottom jeans and pointy black shoes, a reflection of his afinity for the 1970s and its music. He said he loves Robert Plant and listens to Led Lepplin sometimes when he paints. Indeed, a TV in the gallery corner was showing a LZ concert. Oleg said he was studying for an engineering exam some 30 years ago at a friend's house when he picked up a brush and started painting on a canvas belonging to his friend's brother. The brother told him he had talent and he gave up engineering. Oleg, who is surrounded by his paintings in this photo, doesn't just have an affinity for bell bottoms. He claims to have one of the largest horse bell collections in Russia with more than 1,000 pieces.
After a 75 minute bus ride from Gus Khrustalni to Vladimir, I had 1.5 hours to walk around the historic town before my 2-hr train ride back to Moscow. I went looking for coffee and passed a colorful cafe with big windows that probably opened a year or two ago at most. Paintings were on the wall...it was a place you might find in NYC. As I sat down, I saw a young woman in a NYC shirt with pinkish-rimmed glasses. She had been reading, but was getting ready to leave and I walked over to chat about her studies and dreams. Zhenya said she was finishing her university degree and, after much thought, had finally realized what she wanted to do in life...at least in the mid-term: 'I want to draw, to create something intellectual.' She hoped to continue her studies either in Moscow or abroad, where she felt educational demands and job opportunities would be better than in her native Vladimir. Considering her artistic interests, it was not surprising to find her at home in such a cafe. Notice the artwork on the wall behind her.