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Martinez celebrates international women in the arts movement

PLEASANT HILL—When asked who she gives credit to for her interest in art and being the woman she is today, Natalya Kolyvayko immediately credits her parents.
Like her father, Viktor, Kolyvayko grew up in Ukraine appreciating the art and culture of her home country. When she moved to the United States in 2001, that appreciation in art continued, but recently she’d seen firsthand, during her parents’ annual winter visits to the Bay Area, just how much art had uplifted her parents when they needed it most.
“My father has been painting since he was a child, but with more intensity the last few years when war broke out in our home country in 2014,” Kolyvayko said. “It created huge anxiety for my parents. They were looking for something to do to keep their hands busy.”
Kolyvayko’s mother, Liuba, began gathering old newspapers and junk mail to make baskets, while her father took up oil painting with such fervor, Kolyvayko said. His subjects of choice — the East Bay landscapes.
“They had to do something for the anxiety caused by the conflict and the lack of tranquility at home,” she said. “The East Bay landscapes had a soothing effect on him. Now, he paints with obsession.”
Kolyvayko said her father would sketch or take photos on site then paint back at her home in Pleasant Hill during visits or back home in Ukraine referencing the photos he took while he was here. Viktor Kolyvayko said it’s convenient painting on small textured panels.
“I’ve become very appreciative of the tranquility, serenity and peaceful feel of East Bay landscapes,” said Viktor Kolyvayko via a Skype interview from his home in Ukraine. “I look forward every year to come back and enjoy East Bay nature again. I think that maybe as a person foreign to Northern California, I may see things with a fresh eye that native Californians may not be able to notice because they are so used it: like how rich the colors are around them, how soothing is the haze, and how crisp the object silhouettes are in the morning. I love to create the same landscape at different times of the day to emphasize how the color values and the focus are changing.”
His wife, Liuba, is equally enthused as she creates her own baskets, inspired by a basket weaving tutorial she saw on YouTube.
“I find it satisfying for at least two reasons: It makes me feel good that I don’t spend money on materials,” said Kolyvayko’s mother. “It brings me joy to watch how something that was supposed to become a part of trash pile transforms itself into an orderly piece of craft that can have a practical purpose.”
Original paintings and postcard reproductions of Kolyvayko’s father’s paintings will bear the inscription, “Greetings from Martinez,” at the SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day event on March 24. Part of the proceedings from Viktor’s art sales will go to support https://womenarts.networkforgood.com/. His original paintings are also available at White Rabbit Boutique at 529 Main St., Martinez.
Kolyvayko said her booth at the event will be a family affair, showcasing not just her parents’ work, but also her own sketches and digital illustrations on cards created by her sixth-grade daughter, Katarina. She said, as supporters of the arts and women’s causes, her family is honored to participate in this event.
Other local artists are just as delighted to be a part of SWAN Day, an annual event sponsored by the Martinez Art Association (MAA) in its 11th year. More than 60 exhibitors from all over the East Bay and beyond featuring original hand-created arts, crafts, clothing and decorative objects will be celebrating women in the arts, said Vernon Sanders, MAA president.
Martinez resident Deni Kendig heard of SWAN Day from the MAA when she became a member last year. Kendig, a self taught  mixed media artist, illustrator and taxidermist who grew up in the Bay Area, said she was happily surprised to find that this is an international movement.
“For nearly 30 years, I have been mentoring women with art through teaching and gatherings,” Kendig said. “In this day and age, where women are being even more empowered with a strong voice, it has been exciting to see that voice emerge through creativity. SWAN day, for me, represents women in all walks of life, speaking through their art. Through this unspoken voice, we give comfort, we give smiles, we evoke emotion like a good movie or storyteller. We have the great and humbling honor to explain our view of the world to the rest of humankind.”
Kendig’s hand-drawn pendants “were quite a happy accident” as one of the ceramic disks she was making assemblage art on, fell into her bag of colored pencils.
“I have always loved to draw and paint tiny,” she said. “This concept of wearing a tiny original art piece brought back memories of the tiny diminutive paintings that I saw on antique jewelry that my grandmother wore. My first pet portrait was of my own cat Charlie after he died. I wanted to keep him with me. Mourning jewelry for others followed when people saw me wearing my own cat’s likeness. I branched out with drawing other animals like raccoons, foxes, birds and rabbits. I love the challenge of drawing a pet’s likeness though the best. Capturing their personality is the most important part to me. I want the animals to speak their hearts to anyone who looks upon the portrait of them.”
Each pendant, a 1-1/2 inch drawing, is then sealed in resin to protect the image, she said.
Painter Alice Lin Young said the MAA “is a welcoming group.”
“I think it is a great concept because it feels like a very inclusive and accessible event for artists from all backgrounds and abilities,” she said of SWAN Day.
She will be featuring her Martinez tribute series: paintings that depict scenes from the city that she said make Martinez unique and beautiful.
“I’m so proud of this city that I call home and I wanted to share that,” Young said.
If You Go
What: Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 24
Where: The Old Train Depot, Ferry Street and Marina Vista, Martinez
Info: www.womenarts.org; viktorcanvas.wordpress.com
 
 

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