Sunday, March 20, 2022

Artists Help Ukraine

I don’t believe any of us can, or should, get away from the subject of Ukraine.

I have been reading more about how artists are reacting and trying to do something to protest the war and help the Ukrainians.

Tom Booth

After World War II a member of the French Resistance became a film maker whose nom de guerre was Jean-Pierre Melville. Four years after V-E day he made a film called “Le Silence de la mer”. In the film a German Officer billeted in a French home and an admirer of the city who had enjoyed the famous sights such as Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, meets with his superiors who inform him that the Nazi plans are not just to destroy the might of France but its spirit as well. What better way than to destroy the monuments and art that people come from around the world to see.

As I have mentioned in an earlier Missive the Ukrainians are doing what they can to shelter the art and artifacts in their museums, but it seems inevitable that much will be damaged or worse, destroyed. Keeping all of this in mind, cultural heritage professionals – librarians, archivists, researchers, and programmers are working to preserve digitally, Ukrainian civilization before Russia can destroy it. They end with a plea, ‘You can still help by submitting URLs” of sites containing Ukrainian Cultural content. They can also use help from those who speak Ukrainian or Russian.

Needless to say, Ukrainians are speaking out through their art. An artist by the name of Yuliana who is both a photographer and painter created what she called “the indestructible spirit of Ukraine”. She told a reporter from NPR that the woman’s body may appear to be cracked but the Ukrainian flag shined beneath the gaps. There are many such stories showing the incredible spirit of and belief in their country.


The most dramatic story I read was that a Ukrainian artist, Volo Bevza, travelled from his home in Berlin, to Kyiv last month for an opening of his exhibition at the WT Foundation, a museum set up by American collector Walter Tamke. It was to open February 24 but never did and Bevza ended up in the middle of a war zone. He had travelled with his girlfriend Victoria Pidust, a photographer, and her younger brother Mark. For safety’s sake they headed to the city of Lviv which was father west but did not leave Ukraine as one might expect. Instead, they started to make the jagged Czech Hedgehogs which are being made to stop the rolling tanks. They have not been invented for this war but were first used at the Czech-German border during World War II. Now the artists have been raising funds for both defense and humanitarian aid by asking for contributions from artists, dealers and collectors from their homes in Germany. Victoria Pidust recorded the activity.

Czech Hedgehogs

Artists the world over, including in Russia, are demonstrating in the streets in support of Ukraine. What might surprise you is the report from the Great Falls Tribune of Helena, Montana that a local artist is donating the proceeds of her work to help Ukraine. Svitlana immigrated from the Ukraine to the States in 2017 after her marriage. She is working from the Mountain Sage Art Gallery selling her hand painted scarves, jewelry, and watercolors to buy food, clothing and medicine for the people and refugees in her native city of Poltava. She started a website selling the concept, come buy my art to help the people of Ukraine. She plans to donate 80% and keep 20% to cover the tax liability for her sales. In the first week she had $4,000 to contribute to the people of Poltava. She has put one caveat on her contributions, that is her donations not be used to acquire weapons but to take care of the people.

I picked the story above because I would not have associated the situation in Ukraine with the formerly wild west state of Montana whose motto "Oro y Plata", Spanish for "Gold and Silver", harkens back to when mining ruled the state. But much of the worlds’, artists, galleries and auction houses are selling art in the fight for right. From what we have read and seen from Ukraine they could adopt New Hampshire’s state motto, “Live Free or Die”!

To end on a lighter note Sarah Rose Sharp announced in Hyperallergic, “National Mustard Museum Banishes Russian Mustards” The Middleton Wisconsin museum announced that the Russian mustards would return “once the invasion of Ukraine is over and Russia recognizes and respects the sovereign nation of Ukraine”. Here in a parody of Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Memory”.

Persistence of Mustard