|"Russian By the Bay " is showcasing nine Russian-American artists living and working in a Bay Area California.
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CURATORIAL STATEMENT: by Inna Razumova
There is a fascinating historical and cultural connection between Russia and California, in general, and San Francisco, in particular.
It dates back to the times in the early 19th century, when the Russian Empire settled Alaska, and Russian explorers, aristocrats,
fur traders, and priests established outposts as far south as Fort Ross near San Francisco in California. Ever since then, the connection between Russia and California, especially the Bay Area, could be characterized as that of remoteness and familiarity, romantic infatuation and shrewd political intrigue, nostalgia, even love, as well as estrangement and reticence. It is precisely this mystique and mutual fascination between these cultures that this exhibition Mission: Russian Art in The Bay is aimed to explore further.
The main goal is to show diversity of ideas, a range of art making approaches, and techniques among contemporary Russian artists in California. There are nine artists of different generations working in various media with a range of artistic influences and of diverse ethnic and geographic backgrounds. Some were born in Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Sakhalin Island) and others - to Russian emigrants in Germany and Argentina - but all united by Russian culture and shaped by California experience. Specifically, the artists belong to different immigration waves, ranging from children of White Russians, like Misha Pavlov and Alexander Miokovic, whose parents or grandparents left shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, to Jewish and Russian Soviet and post-Soviet immigrants, like the rest of the artists. The late Henri Elinson (1935-2010) also represents a generation of non-conformist Soviet underground artists of the 1960's and 70s. He was a member of the Leningrad's (St. Petersburg's) first unofficial art circles and avant-garde exhibitions of the Soviet underground art and was questioned and blacklisted by the KGB. In terms of their California experience, five artists live and work in San Francisco or the Bay Area, three are from Monterey, and one is from Southern California.
Russian Art in The Bay includes paintings, etchings, drawings, digital media, and photography. Participants include professional artists with advanced art degrees who teach at universities and colleges and self-taught artists. All of them (except the late Henry Elinson) are actively engaged at some level in a contemporary art discourse.
>> Interview with Inna Razumova - "NEW LIFE" Newspaper
Vladimir Zimakov is an illustrator and a printmaker from Southern California, who studied and worked with Mikhail Chemyakin. He continues and expands the great avant-garde tradition of Russian book illustration.
Irina Varshavsky is a San Francisco photographer with a medical research background that uses her camera and historical photographic methods as a microscope to reveal the hidden beauty of ordinary objects.
Inna Razumova is a Bay Area visual artist whose digital-media work explores the fluctuating membrane between science, art, and utopia. It combines scientific methods with non-scientific data, so that the distinctions between reality and fable are intentionally collapsed.
Misha Pavlov is a painter who lives in Monterey, CA, and explores bi-cultural and bi-lingual self-identity in his witty, linguistic pastel self-portraits.
Alexander Miokovic is a conceptual artist and an independent scholar who questions "art-for-art-sake" practice in contemporary culture and attempts to re-politicize it in a way that contributes something useful to the polis - to society - and does not fulfill the desire of pure detached aesthetic pleasure.
In her etchings, Tatiana Lyskova, a San Francisco artist, explores themes of duality of human existence: rationality and spontaneity, reality and clarity vs. mystery and fantasy.
Elena Lokshina is a naive painter who spent many years living and painting in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. In these series of paintings she is interested in depicting the life of marginal people on the fringes of society and reality.
Henri Elinson's (1935-2010) pastels and other graphic works force us to take a moment and contemplate artist's inner world with the sense of elusive recognition and uneasy wonder, like edgy and strangely beautiful variations on a recurring but inscrutible theme.
Anastasia Chernyavsky is a Bay Area photographer who uses her camera to reflect on intimacy, both physical and spiritual, and motherhood.
All of the presented artists have been showing their works in solo and group shows around the world, but there has not been a united group exhibition of Russian artists in the Bay area since 1936. No attempt has been made to select the works that specifically reflect the Russian-Californian experience. Rather, the main goal was to present the variety and diversity of Russian contemporary art in California, as well as the breadth of the artists' intellectual and cultural discourse. Despite the great variety of approaches exhibited by the selected artists in this exhibition, they are only a sample of the great variety of Russian art in California. The Ruth's Table Center gave us a unique opportunity to introduce and share a slice of that Russian visual culture with a wider Bay Area audience.
As a curator I hope that the viewers of Russian Art by The Bay find the show to be intriguing, riveting, and educational. I also hope they will leave puzzled or challenged, enlightened, agitated or even repulsed. Any reaction is welcome except the indifference.
LIST OF ARTISTS:
Anastasya Chernyavsky, Henry Elinson, Elena Lokshina,
Tatiana Lyskova, Alex Mioković, Misha Pavlov,
Inna Razumova, Irina Varshavsky, Vladimir Zimakov
CURATOR: Inna Razumova
Inna Razumova was born in Moscow, Russia, and has been living in California since 1991. She studied at the Stroganov School of Art in Moscow and graduated from UCLA in 1996 with a BFA in Painting. In 2003 she received her MFA from CADRE Laboratory for Digital Media Art at San Jose State University. Inna is a tenured faculty member in the Art Department at the City College of San Francisco and has exhibited her work locally and internationally in venues such as GenArt (San Francisco, CA), Institute of Contemporary Arts (San Jose, CA), Works Gallery (San Jose, CA) and internationally at MAD´03 NET (Madrid, Spain), Museum of Contemporary Art (Krasnoyarsk, Russia), and the 2006 International Symposium of Electronic Art (San Jose,CA).
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San Francisco, CA 94110-2570
Gallery hours: Monday-Friday 1 pm - 5 pm
Saturdays by appointment
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About Ruth's Table
Ruth's Table is a center for creative learning rooted in the life and work of San Francisco artist Ruth Asawa. Her wish is for her table to continue to serve as a hearth for creativity, inspiring people to come together, continue to learn, and give back to the community.
Ruth's Table programming is available to people of all generations and spans many areas - from art classes and weekend workshops, to an intergenerational modern dance company, from creative writing to Tai Chi. It also includes an artist-in-residence program, a professional gallery, music concerts, and film screenings.
Guest artists offer demonstrations in various disciplines, such as bookmaking and Chinese brush painting. For information on upcoming programs, visit: www.ruthstable.org
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