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Пресса, статьи, отзывы Yountville hosts a Russian cultural exchange, by Gary BRADY-HERDON

Yountville hosts a Russian cultural exchange, by Gary BRADY-HERDON

Yountville hosts a Russian cultural exchange

Thursday, February 1, 2001


On first meeting Alexey Vladimirov, the impression is not one of a giant in the world of Russian art. The Kiev native's medium, powerful build conjures up more of an image of a diminutive middle linebacker for a professional football team than a respected and celebrated artist.

Yet, as he stands in front of a newly created 10-foot tall statue, "The Goddess of the Moon," you get the feeling there is much more to this man than meets the eye.

On Saturday, Feb. 10, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville, Napa Valley residents will have the unique pleasure of spending the afternoon with this Kiev native -- and with 28 of his original bronze, marble and granite sculptures shipped to the United States specifically for this event.

A graduate of Kiev's State Institute of Arts, Vladimirov, 43, has spent the past 15 years developing a style that has projected his career onto the international art scene. Since 1985, he has been the subject of one-man shows in his home in Moscow and Kiev, at the Russian Arts Museum and the prestigious Museum of National History. Abroad, he has exhibited in Geteborg, Sweden, Kyoto, Osaka, Japan and Berlin.

Although Vladimirov's works are done in several different materials -- wood, bronze, stone and metal -- when asked what is his favorite he doesn't hesitate when he responds.

"Stone!" he remarks with emphasis and a hearty laugh.

In Russia, he gets stone from Greece and Italy, which he says is cheaper than stone from the United States.

Vladimirov has been sculpting in one form or another since he was a child living on his family's small vineyard in the Kuban region of the Ukraine. In those years, he recalls, he was always carving 3-D forms and figures out of wood.

Currently, he has 15 or 16 major pieces in the Ukrainian and other Russian national museums. Vladimirov isn't sure of the exact number because of the way his art was acquired before 1990 and the fall of the Soviet Union. During those years, the Soviet government commissioned works of art for display as national art treasures at home and abroad. Unfortunately, Vladimirov has no way of knowing if all of the pieces went to museums or may have wound up in private hands.

When asked to comment on the current climate of the arts in Russia, he has upbeat and positive remarks about where art is headed in his home country, even in the face of its economic woes.

"People who want to create art will always overcome obstacles," Vladimirov said.

In fact, he pointed out, with the dissolution of the communist government, the grip on art production relaxed. Private galleries are now able to acquire and exhibit art, opening up new venues for artists. He said there is always work for a sculptors in private galleries, museums or in cemetery work.

"If you consider cemetery work -- memorial art (then there is always work.) Open any art history book and many works of art by the masters came from cemeteries," Vladimirov noted.

In the near future, he has a show opening this March in the National Art Museum in Kiev and a one-man, all-stone show in Holland in the fall. At this juncture in his life, he said he has 202 pieces to his credit. His goal is to complete at least 1,000 before he retires.

Vladimirov is in the United States as part of a sponsored cultural exchange spearheaded by his long-time friend and university classmate, Pavel Yarovenko, and Pavel's wife, Margarita Chkreba, who own the Gold Cross Art Restoration & Design Studio of Sonoma. A portion of all sales will go to help support future cultural exchange programs to introduce foreign artists in the United States.

While Vladimirov is staying in Sonoma, he and Yarovenko are teaming up on a project Yarovenko hopes will bring affordable art to the area.

Yarovenko said while traveling around the area, the rolling hills called to mind the rounded contours of Vladimirov's works. Working from his knowledge of Russian art history -- where from Lenin's time to recent years art was commissioned and shown publicly for the edification of the public -- he launched a plan.

The new technique Yarovenko envisioned calls for a Styrofoam form coated with a cement and plastic mixture. Vladimirov's "Goddess of the Moon" is the first creation form the process.

The cement and plastic mixture allows the artist to apply it to the surface of the form and shape or mold it for up to four hours, creating smooth, rounded surfaces, mimicking months of polishing and chipping away at harder stone materials.

As a result, Yarovenko said, one-of-a-kind works of art can be created quickly and at a low cost that is affordable and easily transportable for the public.

Yarovenko dreams of one day seeing the hills populated with these larger than life works of art gracing the area's beautiful valleys. Two works are near completion with three more planned before Vladimirov returns to the Ukraine.

For more information about the Feb. 10 reception in the Cypress Conference Center at Villagio Inn & Spa at 6481 Washington Street in Yountville or how to contact the artist, call 707/948-5043.

Gary Brady-Herndon can be reached at 256-2219 or at

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