Yulia Kuznetsova is an artist from Moscow. Putin's Russia, where women have a very little voice to speak out. Yulia met Nadya Tolokonnikova, of Pussy Riot, who spent two years in prison. She considers Nadya a role model.
Yulia is determined to become an American citizen. Living in America taught her about freedom. A freedom she would be deprived of in Russia.
Chicago artist, Tony Fitzpatrick says, "She is exactly the kind of person we want to become American. Nobody appreciates liberty as much as those who've been deprived of it. Yulia is an amazingly gifted young artist."
Yulia attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a scholarship. This past weekend, she held an open gallery of her work at the Adventureland in Paper and The Dime, artist Tony Fitzpatrick's art incubator.
Fitzpatrick describes Ms. Kuznetsova's work as, "Fearless about seeing the world as it is with no sugar coating."
I am not an art critic. I lack the language and vocabulary of art criticism. I only know what I like and do not like. I like Yulia Kuznetsova's work. The paintings on display are stark, beautiful representations of women.
Tony Fitzpatrick is a successful artist, poet, writer, and actor. He is Chicago personified. A self-made, self-educated artist. He also uses his art for social activism.
Like many successful Chicagoans, Fitzpatrick worked hard, producing a prodigious amount of art. He also played hard for many years.
Now in his late fifties, he just works hard producing art, writing, poetry, acting, and other endeavors. He can be seen in the past and the upcoming season of "Patriot".
Through the Adventureland Works on Paper and The Dime, his art incubator, Fitzpatrick is giving back. He provides artists space to work and display their art for sale. There are open gallery nights for the public to see, appreciate, and buy works of art. The artists are people Fitzpatrick believes in, people with the potential to have a successful career.
Fitzpatrick said Adventureland and the Dime are his reaction to the commercial and institutional art world. One example is Ms. Kuznetsova, whose parents sold their home to help pay the costs her scholarship did not. Other art school graduates owe up to eighty thousand dollars in student loans. They have no idea how to monetize their art.
Art schools do not teach students how to make a living as an artist. Talent and education do not pay the bills, put a roof over your head, or put food on the table.
Creating good or great art is not enough. The artist has to tell a story about the piece(s). The need to learn how to talk to people about their art and make a case for themselves. Translation, they need to learn how to sell art and market themselves.
Fitzpatrick teaches young artists how to be an asset to the art community and the community at large they are part of. Fitzpatrick brags he does not have interns. He tells students who work in his studio to forget that word. He pays them. Some get gallery space to work, show, and sell their art while working for him.
Artists from their twenties to age 94 participate in the incubator. It is a pretty diverse grouping of people.
Everyone needs to start someplace. There are not enough commercial art galleries willing to risk accepting up and coming artists. Adventureland and the Dime fill that gap.
The only other art incubator I could find is run by Theaster Gates on the South Side.
Chicago has many artists who have no venue for their work. The art incubator, like incubator's for other businesses, is a better way for artists to exhibit and sell their works. They learn about sales, marketing, making a case for themselves and their work, and most important, how to get paid.
Professionals get paid. Amateurs starve. These are professional artists on their way to someplace.
Art is a business. If established commercial galleries will not risk promoting upcoming artists, other successful artists like Fitzpatrick and Gates need to step in and fill the gap. Fitzpatrick is giving back and hoping his young band of artists pay it forward too.
Tony Fitzpatrick is giving back in another way. He and others are working to gain United States citizenship for Yulia Kuznetsova. They are working through a law firm. The task is daunting, fraught with paperwork and time-consuming. Yulia Kuznetsova probably could not produce her art in Russia, under the current conditions. She would not see the same success in her home country she will here.
Tony Fitzpatrick believes and practices one of the traits of successful people, generosity. Yulia Kuznetsova, more than native-born Americans, has a greater appreciation of what freedom really means. She will be a great citizen of the United States when given the opportunity.
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