SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Ukrainian artist receives local support from Gallery 24

Though some of his art is for sale in Rochester at Gallery 24, Zerkalov is still living amid the chaos of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 Arthur Zerkalov
Arthur Zerkalov's art is displayed on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at Gallery 24 in Rochester, Minnesota. The gallery is holding a fundraiser on May 13 to support the Ukrainian artist.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
We are part of The Trust Project.

ROCHESTER — “When the invasion began, after listening to explosions for a couple of days, and looking at the eyes of my children and wife, round with fear, we decided to leave Odessa for somewhere quieter,” says Arthur Zerkalov. A 40-year-old native of Ukraine, Zerkalov is a member of the local art collective Gallery 24.

Though some of his art is for sale in Rochester at Gallery 24, Zerkalov is still living amid the chaos of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At first, Zerkalov and his family left Odessa heading to a house in the country. “We packed bags quickly, children's clothes, our clothes, medicines, but then I went to the studio and got stuck there choosing paints for a long time and thoughtfully, unwound canvas, brushes, palette knives, solvents and even a rag for wiping brushes, and all this to the sound of a siren and shell explosions in the distance,” he says. “I didn’t know where we were going, but I knew that somewhere there I would draw.”

Arthur Zerkalov.jpg
Arthur Zerkalov.
Contributed

Eventually, learning the country house was under threat of being flooded if a nearby dam was bombed, Zerkalov and his wife decided she and their children should leave the Ukraine. He says they had a difficult 1,200-kilometer drive on rough roads to the boarder. As he drove back from getting his family out of the country, Zerkalov says he painted in the mountains, but now he is back in the country house living alone.

Art was something that Zerkalov loved from a young age. He recalls being punished more than once for drawing in his school textbooks. Zerkalov has been teaching drawing, painting, anatomy, and sculpture online since the pandemic hit. He says most of his students are currently scattered across Europe, but they still communicate online.

Zerklaov’s brother, 36-year-old Alexi Savchuk, lives in Rochester and says he first fell in love with the city in 2003. He works in food service and tends bar. Savchuk says while he’s living what he calls a “steady” and “typical life” here in the U.S., he’s very concerned about what his brother and friends are facing in Ukraine. He checks YouTube and the news everyday to keep track of the invasion in Ukraine. He says he’s trying to do his best to help since “everyday could be the last for them.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Savchuk says that places he used to go to in the Ukraine are completely destroyed now.

 Arthur Zerkalov
Arthur Zerkalov's art is displayed on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at Gallery 24 in Rochester, Minnesota. The gallery is holding a fundraiser on May 13 to support the Ukrainian artist.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Memories of those places are all that he has left. He describes feeling anger and desperation, but also hope. He says he and his family in Rochester try to keep in touch with his brother every day.

Zerkalov became a member of the Gallery 24 artists collective after the Zerkalov Art Gallery, which opened on South Broadway in 2018 and featured his paintings, closed. Though Gallery 24 is a collective for local artists, Zerkalov’s local gallery created a local connection for him.

Trying to support Zerkalov, Gallery 24 organized a fundraising event featuring Ukrainian food, music, and art from Zerkalov’s local family members. Many Gallery 24 members are also donating some portion of the sale of works at their gallery, located at 611 N. Broadway, to him.

Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags mark the works of artists who are donating to support Zerkalov.

 Arthur Zerkalov
Arthur Zerkalov's art is displayed on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at Gallery 24 in Rochester, Minnesota. The gallery is holding a fundraiser on May 13 to support the Ukrainian artist.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Mike Anderson is one of the Gallery 24 artists who is donating the proceeds of art sales at Gallery 24 to Zerkalov. “I decided to contribute through my art because it is a little thing that I can do,” says Anderson. He says Gallery 24 members have gotten to know Zerkalov’s mother and brother who manage his art at the gallery. “I can’t imagine what they are going through watching their country being torn apart and knowing Arthur is there,” he says.

Anderson says that art is important in situations like the invasion of Ukraine. “It allows us to express our feelings in a concrete way,” he says. “We can create art to show support for the oppressed or to express our anger against the aggressors,” he says, pointing out that some of Zerkalov’s paintings are critical of Putin. There is little doubt in Anderson’s mind that supporting Zerkalov is “simply the right thing to do.” He’s proud that the Gallery 24 board moved quickly to organize support for Zerkalov and his family.

 Arthur Zerkalov
Arthur Zerkalov's art is displayed on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at Gallery 24 in Rochester, Minnesota. The gallery is holding a fundraiser on May 13 to support the Ukrainian artist.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

In the Ukraine, Zerkalov says he’s among the lucky since his suffering is spiritual and mental, and he hasn’t been wounded or killed. “I’m not sitting in basements hungry, unlike many of my compatriots,” he says, acknowledging how much the support of his family and friends, including Gallery 24 members, has helped him. “You realize that life goes on and the war is for a long time,” says Zerkalov, “and if you decide to live, then strength appears, including for creativity, because living and surviving are different concepts.”

ADVERTISEMENT

At Gallery 24

  • Find Arthur Zerkalov’s paintings for sale at Gallery 24 at 611 N Broadway Avenue. While you are there, you can purchase art from other local artists who are donating to support Zerkalov and his family.
  • On Friday May 13 from 5-8 p.m. Gallery 24 and Zerklaov’s local family will be hosting a special fundraising event at their gallery featuring food, music, and art from the Ukraine.
image_6483441.JPG

What to read next
Colleen Bartman and Mark Walsh play for patients, bringing joy and emotional healing for people facing their end of life.
The Southeast Minnesota band put out an open cast call for June 5.
The documentary "Bring Her Home" helps bring awareness to the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Leya Hale hosted a screening of her documentary at Pioneer Public TV in Granite Falls in early May.
The Iraqi American Reconciliation Project uses art to foster understanding between the two cultures.