“America has no culture” – I kept saying this when my American friends would do some weird practical jokes to provoke me, the only Russian they knew back then in college.

Culture like manners, was it? Or was I referring to the culture like fine art? Maybe that, too. I guess back then I was extremely pro-European or just had no chance to take a closer look at the American art and meet American artists. What do you want – I lived in a desert. In California, but way in a desert 🙂

Recently an old good friend of mine (thank you, Shawn!) reminded me on that statement of mine. Here’s what he wrote (Shawn, I hope you don’t mind):

“I am laughing right now because I can hear your voice telling me many years ago that “America has no culture.”

 

Believe it or not I live in a place that has its own peculiar culture, really it is true, that in order to find culture in America you just need to sometimes remove any preconceived ideas of refinement, aesthetics, and classicality to find it (in my own way I had to because this type of culture was usually referred to in derogatory terms like “Hillbilly”).

 

I supposed in some ways it is the culture of anti-culture but I have found it very fascinating nonetheless.

 

Here in the Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas Ozark Mountains “culture” is unique, simple, rugged, unrefined and often individualistic construct.”

It made me think again about my arrogant statement. Funny thing is that, in order to “get even” with my, as I thought, arrogant college friends, I would arrogantly be way too European. Sometimes it was geeky but hey – I’m a European, so let me wear my Birkenstocks with black socks 🙂 I had some culture, right? 🙂

“America has no culture”… Well, I can argue with that statement now. Every time I go to the States I try to visit galleries and art spaces. I fell in love with American artists from the late 19th century (like Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas Moran, Asher Brown Durand) and some modern ones (like fantastic Michael Gregory, refreshing Jacob Collins, simple Scott Christensen, passionate Jordan Mejias).

Martin Johnson Heade

Thomas Moran

Asher Brown Durand

The place where an artist lives and creates has a significant impact on his/her art. The last year I have spent almost a month in Venice, CA – the ocean, the sun, lazy happy people – and my paintings suddenly turned bright and colorful.

 

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