Sky Is The Limit painting creation process

Sky Is The Limit – is the painting that was created at a very special part of my life. I am an artist and was painting for as long as I can remember myself. However after graduating from my art academy I was close to realization that I might be not that good at painting and maybe I will achieve more in promoting art (more of a PR/marketing sector of the industry). I also got involved in advertising and contemporary ballet. In fact, I even developed the whole ballet performance project (Sweet Expiration), that I took to NYC to try to raise funds for its production. Little did I know that was the trip that took me away from home country Ukraine for good.

Ballet performance never was produced. I ended up moving to Arizona. The day my plane landed on the US soil, the national revolution had started in Ukraine. I didn’t paint for two years. Then I started that “so west coast” common routine of doing yoga in the morning at a gym, followed by those super overpriced kale smoothies.

 

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I discovered that my yoga group instructor at the Village gym was a massage therapist. My spine is far from perfect and running/snowboarding etc. really don’t help. So I set up an appointment. She was great. I felt like I could breathe again (that magic was the massage, she gave). That day we agreed for a barter: I paint her a painting and she gives me massage sessions worth of the painting cost. I got intrigued to fit her place and concept of it with the painting I will make for her. I came across the Bolivian salt flats pictures. Then, I read all those stories about the biggest one of them – Salar de Uyuni.

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It is the world’s biggest salt flat desert. And just a few times a year, during a rainy season, it get’s covered by few inches of water. That is enough to make it the world’s biggest mirror. In fact, it’s so perfect, it is used to calibrate satellites. The beauty of it (how I imagine it) has curved into my consciousness for a while now. I read multiple blogs on how to travel there. It is definitely on my bucket list. Among the best ones seemed to be this:

Source: Salt of The Earth, Cycling Bolivia’s Salars – BIKEPACKING.com

Deserts like that, are often used for setting speed records (due absence of obstacles). I saw this bike. It all suddenly came together: the Bolivian salt flat desert and Tour of Italy (Giro d’Italia – pro-cycling bike race) that I was obsessing over recently (as it was the end of May, and I was watching this race live).

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I made the first painting, that inspired me to proceed with the whole series. My yoga instructor loved it. I quit yoga classes and smoothies very soon, and never saw her again. But she appeared in my life in the perfect time to kickstart my painting process.

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There is also a great song Sky Is The Limit by Notorious B.I.G. The actual painting was titled in its name. It still hangs in my bedroom – looking for the right buyer. But it is definitely one of the most special for me.

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The final version of the painting is here.

See more of original art at my website: Createdbymasha.com and follow me on Instagram @createdbymasha. Also please feel free to comment and subscribe to my blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cheers!

Masha

New Series

NEW SERIES is inspired by a process of detachment from the homeland. I left Ukraine two years ago now. And throughout this time I was observing the changes I was facing. These includes the personal attitude towards patriotism and the phenomenon of friendship in spite of distance. Immigration also influenced my overall view-point on the choice of being an artist and staying true to your statement. I also explored the trance-continental dialog one faces through a change of geographical location and the access to the social media that keeps you up to date with the lives that used to surround oneself. Mixed fillings caused the dream-like mixture of memories combined with current political and cultural events that troubled the world in 2015-16.

Chris Froome Chasing Geese - original painting, acrylic on canvas
Chris Froome Chasing Geese – original painting, acrylic on canvas
Art Under Fire Painting
‘Art Under Fire’ – original painting, acrylic on canvas
Found Near Heaven
‘Found Near Heaven’ 96″x 49″ – original painting, acrylic on canvas
I Am The Leader
‘I Am The Leader’ 98″x46″ – original painting, acrylic on canvas
Why Do You Touch Me?
Why Do You Touch Me? – original painting, acrylic on canvas

В Сан-Франциско на 5 часов, за визой

Говорят первый шаг самый сложный. Дальше, как снежный ком – по иннерции становится проще. Примавера в Барселоне вначале лета. Назад через океан в Европу. И все еще без визы в зону Шенген никак. Билеты есть, в первые в жизни так заранее! В ожидании сщитаешь дни оставшихся трех с половиной месяцев. Второй, неменее сложный шаг скрашивает проходящие будни, озадачивая знакомой до боли бюрократией.

В штате аризона нет посольства Испании. Никакого европейского посольства нет. Есть консульства. Как оказалось консул Испании в Аризоне, так же есть владельцем самого закрытого ювелирного магазина (Ювелирный Бутик эт Молина). Его зовут Мистер Альфредо Молина. По смешному стечению обсоятельств я познакомилась с директором этого магазина и меннеджером пару недель ранее, на выставке моих работ. Они проходили момо случайно и, заинтересовавшись картинами, поделились своими визитными карточками и предложением зайти однажды и обсудить возможную экспозицию на втором этаже их магазина. Лица я их успешно забыла,  но понадеявшись на художественную визуальную память, нарядилась и поехала к ним в госте. На парковке меня встретили два охранника, идиально вписавшись в американские стериотипы из фильмов: обширные плечи, рост и пружинный провод за ухом. Спросили назначена ли у меня встреча. Я сказала, что в госте к директору, назвав ее по фамилии. Меня пропустили. Внутри было очень нарядно и тихо. Я заметила красивую женщину. Не было сомнений, что это она тогда подошла ко мне на выставке. Я постаралась как можно ненавязчевее дать ей знать о своем присутствии и напомнить, как я рада была с ней познакомиться. Она с улыбкой меня выслушала и сказала, что наверно я имею ввиду директора. И вот я второй раз, другому человеку рассказываю, как рада встрече. Встреча закончилась быстро – к ней (по рассписанию) пришли клиенты и мы обещали друг-другу оставаться связи.

Консульства визу дать не могут. Нужен генеральный консул, который работает в посольстве Испании. Посольства находятся в нескольких основных городах США и их юриспруденция распространяется на близлижайшие штаты, разделенные на зоны.

По делу Аризоны нашлось два города: Лос-Анжелес и Сан-Франциско. В первом не взяли трубку. Во-втором, после получасовых переговоров с плохой связью, мне назначили собеседование. Документы собрала, билет в Сан-Франциско купила. Жду.

Нарядилась, одела каблуки и через три часа уже вышла в Сан-Франциско. Впервые вызвала Убер (альтернатива такси), времени совсем не много вроде бы. Везет меня водитель и заезжаем мы в какую-то пром зону..я в легком негодовании уточняю адрес. Оказалось вызвала я Убер неправильного типа: тот, который подвозит всех, кому попути. И, компенсация, мне как бы дешевле. Адрес он найти следующего пассажира не может. Вскоре к машине выходит девушка. Нерисса. Она по-американски в спортивном костюме и худди. Нерисса – боди билдер и работает тренером в спорт залле. Говорит у нее много друзей из украины, особенно парекмахеров и фотографов. Добавляюсь с ее телефона в друзья в фейс бук и оказывается, что у нее установлена украинская клавиатура, помимо английской. Подсаживается еще одна пассажирка, не очень разговорчивая. Меня высадили в китайском районе, там посольство Испании.. Купила на почте конверт для обратной отсылки паспорта, все готово. Посольство закрыто. До собеседования еще полтора часа. Пройдясь по городу почуствовала, чтото очень сродное Киеву – холмы и много деревьев. Безумно красиво! Нашла художественную академию, ратушу, любимую шоколадку, которая не продается в Аризоне (милка). На одной улице блеск и красота архитектуры и горожан, а совсем рядом, на соседней улице – очередь в приют для наркоманов. Но они все довольно безобидные. Все улыбаются. Зашла во вьетнамское кафе. Обожглась чаем сразу же; и ключ от туалена прикреплен к метровой палке, что б не украли.

Посольство маленькое и темное, в холле тесно и очередь. Азиатская семья получала визы на шестерых. Что-то не совпадало, то-ли билетов не было, то-ли фото. Передо мной извенились за ожидание, провели по корридору, во второй холл и дальше по ступенькам на второй этаж в отдельный кабинет. Очень уставшей внешности девушка взяла мою папку документов, спросила, зачем так много, а потом спросила пречину моего пребывания в США. Я растерялась чуть, пытаясь припомнить, как по официальной версии я тут оказалась. Что-то сказала про выставки и картины, она обеспокоилась и начала выяснять, как я по туристической визе выставляла картины. На каком-то этапе она поняла, что я резидент Аризоны. Вернула мне документы, и сообщила, что по новым правилам, они туристические визы для жителей аризоны не выдают. Сказала – это не первый случай и даже отксерила мою анкету, что бы пожаловаться начальству на ситуацию. На вопрос, как так и, что делать, она посоветовала писать письма в посольства Лос Анджелеса (много писать, тк они редко отвечают). Это связано с двумя компаниями, которые оформляют визы и собеседования, и видимо недавно они разделили полномочия.

Как-то так: я в Сан-Франциско еще на три часа; до Примаверы теперь два месяца, на собеседование надо записываться и лететь теперь в Лос-Анжелес. Пошла гулять – друг из Киева посоветовал найти трамвай на набережной. Дошла до набережной на каблах за минут сорок. Красиво: много туристов, мелких магазинов, дещатых дорог и такой же рынок, как и в Сиеттле. Опять тюлени и чайки. На мост Голден Гейт я смотрела уже из бара, где бармен жаловался на высокие цены, и что он инженер, работал на банк, а вот теперь их офис сократили, и пришлось работать в баре. Бесконечные истории с одинаковым наративом. И опять из облаков и тумана в пекучее сонце пустыни! Привет кактусы.

Сан-Диего, военный порт и тюлени

 

Для местных ты всегда усугубляешь перенаселенность их рая. Сан-Диего вмещает в себя сразу все штаты, удивляет своей самодостаточностью. На границе с Аризоной и Мексикой, тебя спасает тихо-океанский бриз, и приглашение утонуть в зелени береговых холмов, домов, цветов и бесконечности заката.

Одна из двух дорог ведущих в Сан-Диего из Аризоны занимает около 5 часов и, проходя вдоль границы с Мексикой, не оставляет без адреналина в засушливом горном массиве. В тот первый раз, когда мы решили проехаться туда летом, потолок автомобиля пришлось обклеить теплоизолирующим отражателем. Температура в пустыне превышает 50С. И когда на подъеме в горы загорелась лампочка, предупреждая о низком уровне бензина, мы все умолкли, выключили кондиционер и музыку. Связи конечно нет. На телефоне спасающий GPS говорит, что до заправки 80 км. Стало совсем тихо. В голове возникают какие-то надежды, на то что за перевалом расход будет минимальный. Но тут из-за угла возникает знак, сообщающий, что заправка совсем рядом. Мы съезжаем с трассы. Так же тихо, – хоть бы не мираж. Дорога сразу становится поселочного типа. На обочине встречаются вековые пикапы и остатки урбанизации. Через минут десять, объехав коров, мы паркуемся под одиночной колонкой. Под дверью в здание заправочной станции сидит крупная мексиканка с сэндвичем. Моя подруга и я ослеплены идеей найти конфеты Haribo. Проходим мимо единственного работника заправки, который вытирает руки и нож от крови, чтобы с нами рассчитаться за бензин и конфеты. Понимаем, что это так же местный магазин и мясная лавка. Конфеты нашли, бензина вдоволь – опять в путь.

При въезде в штат Калифорния, частью которого есть Сан-Диего, нас останавливает офицер пункта контроля сельского хозяйства. Ввоз и вывоз инородной флоры запрещен. Калифорния считается самым либеральным штатом. Как результат – большие налоги и бесконечные аэро-электростанции и солнечные батареи. Спускаясь в город тебя ослепляет бесконечность океана и все тот же закат.

 

Сан-Диего разбит на микро города. Есть центр – настоящий город с высотными домами, бизнес центрами, квартирами, – единственная часть Сан-Диего, где люди не носят вьетнамки. Есть более туристический город; город, где ничего нет, кроме набережной и волн для серфинга; есть город, где традиционно много современных хиппи, населяющих трейлер парки.

Есть Ла-Хойя. Там, если встать рано, можно пройти идеальный круг, который включает холмы, застроенные виллами в венецианском стиле, отвесной берег, с еще спящими у его подножия тюленями, улицы с розовыми зданиями, вмещающими мелкие галереи и, поднявшись опять, купить самый дорогой кофе с органическим молоком. А потом присесть на террасе этого же кофе шопа и понять, что все лавки и столы почти развалины, собаки сидят так же рядышком с своими тарелками, места почти нет и жутко уютно, а твой кофе и веганский кекс стоили 15 долларов. До часу дня в воскресенье – “фермерский рынок”, там даже есть гречишный мед, и клубника пахнет.

А можно вместо этого ночью пить ром на крыше и слышать дикую мощь океана. А днем, когда откроется, купить огромное мороженное, тоже органическое и тоже веганское. И конечно привет тюленям и водорослям, а еще разрывному течению, и главное вспомнить: плыть только по-диагонали к берегу.

Заливая (по незнанию) ледяной тихо-океанской водой каяк, проплываешь мимо отвесного берега. В год там около 30 см отвесных утесов из-за эрозии опадают в воду. Ну виллы дорогие там тоже в негодовании очень, т.к. части их территории, уже почти у самих бассейнов тоже давно исчезли с береговой линии. Морские львы меньше тюленей; музей современного искусства в Ла-Хойе – такой себе, а “тако”- что-надо!

В Сан-Диего самый загруженный в мире военный порт: Коронадо. Рядом там тоже живут люди, а пляжи еще белей. Много ветра, холодной воды, и свободы. На краю Соединенных Штатов, этот город – сам-по-себе.

Однажды Сбегая На Дикий Запад

“you can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”

(С англ.: От себя не убежишь, переезжая из одного места в другое.)

― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

Когда первый гусь оказался в озере, а остальные лениво его догнали – оказалось, что это я бегала за ними по парку. Наверно что-то вспомнилось из Нильсона. Так же, как и люди, сбегая на зиму из Канады, – гуси паркуются тут, уже третий год подряд.

Примерно тем же, помню, я объясняла, какой-то совсем неуместный загар в декабрьских коридорах Академии; тогда, как наш преподаватель живописи, Будников, даже не пробовал объяснять (по статусу не положено было). А в памяти – солнце зимой и небо синее, куда не повернешь голову, запах горячей пыли и горы, где-то на горизонте. А потом, кто-то в сентябре показал мне все серии Индианы Джонса; и манящий ноябрьским золотом и пурпуром запад, затянул меня вот уже на три года.

Долой рассказы, что от себя не убежишь! Уехав в самый конец континента, через океан от Киева, ты становишься кем-угодно, и одновременно никем. И каждый штат околдовывает совсем по-своему, как разные планеты в космосе Экзюпери.

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Кентукки

Тебе открываются бесконечные газоны Кентукки с конюшнями, похожими больше на деревенские церкви, и как большинство Киевских архитектурных построек пост-двухтысячных, – с башнями. Их дополняют приветливые люди с рабочими руками, от ухода за лошадьми, и полными гордости глазами, от осведомленности в ситуации в Украине; и, как в подтверждение историями, про давнюю традицию эмиграции ирландцев и украинцев в штат Кентукки. Говорят, они хорошо кладут камень, очень! А затем – жаренные в тесте соленые огурцы и вера в необходимость трансляции CNN в Украине как закрепление ново-образовавшейся дружбы.

И правда, как-то по-доброму наивно звучат отголоски Кентукки в памяти: с простой едой и простыми мыслями.

Монтере

Утонувший в тумане север Калифорнии, город Монтере. От цивилизации и единственного аэропорта отрезанный двухчасовой дорогой, через, как и везде (кроме Кентукки), выгоревшие поля с травой. Монтере двуличный. В тени переплетенных корней, закрученных веток, каменных вилл (как декораций из Властелина Колец или Сонной Лощины), отвесных берегов и оглушающей тишины, ты вдруг находишь проход на залитые солнцем и туристами улицы. Мимо, затрудняясь притормозить, пронесется с горы бело-золотой автомобиль 1920 года. А за холмом, все еще скрываясь в смеси тумана и выхлопов, за приз какой то, пронесется еще 50 таких же артефактов, оживленных заведенными гонщиками, так серьезно сражающимися за первенство. Наслоенные картинки памяти всплывают из описаний автомобильных гонок в книге Жизнь Взаймы, Ремарка.

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“- das Bild eines grauen Marktplatzes, voll von abstraktem Lärm, der durch viele Echos seinen individuellen Ton verloren hatte, und die Gespenster der Wagen, einer hinter dem andern, mit zwei winzigen Funken Leben in jedem, die nichts weiter wollten als sich selbst zu riskieren.”

(С нем.: перед глазами стояла картина: серая Рыночная площадь в Брешии, безликий шум, призраки машин проносились один за другим, машин, в которых было две искорки жизни, двое людей, охваченных только одним желанием — рискнуть своей головой.)

– Erich Maria Remarque, Der Himmel kennt keine Günstlinge

И с каждым вдохом – солнце, вершина холма, блеск ульібок и запыленных начищенных фар; шум какого то праздника, и отблеск не зря горящих свеч. И с каждым выдохом – пустая зыбкая тишина и плохая видимость.

Гул множества моторов действовал, подобно тысячекратной анестезии; проникал в уши, он парализовал и в то же время унифицировал мозг.

– Эрих Мария Ремарк, Жизнь Взаймы

Так, раз вынырнув, чтобы вдохнуть, я лицом к лицу встретилась с тюленем, и из воды выбегала уже я, а не гуси. Монтере уравновешивает, возвращая в точку отсчета.

И почти сразу опять (пока не опомнилась) в туман и наслоенную серость; город – Сиэтл. Там сложней. Глаза, после мещанских салонов Аризоны и Монтере, соблазняет бесплатным (по средам) входом Музей Искусств. Улицы и дома – скомканные и сброшенные в кучу, как и люди. Информации вокруг больше, чем кадров в секунду. И опять скорый вдох в Голдфинч Таверн (новом ресторане, открытом в сотрудничестве с отелем Четыре Сезона) с видом на закат и набережную, наполненный сытостью и теплым полумраком. Просто Итан (шеф повар, у которого родители оказались в балетном деле) пообещал, как-то,  передать сценарий (написанный талантливой Мариной Артеменко в Киеве) своим родителям. Ну да, и конечно ульібки и обещания дружбьі прилагаются. А внизу, там за окнами, куда я вскоре вьіскальзьіваю, к северу от отеля, – нагнетающая атмосфера суетьі и приготовлений к вечеру. Открываются в другой мир двери: обещающие, что-то смиренно-улыбчивые азиатской внешности лица, манящие звуки живой музьіки, волшебно резонирующие с восклицаниями змеевидного потока толпьі, и перекличкой рьібаков на Пайк Плейс. Запах и картинки, заменяя нашатьірньій спирт прорезают сознание. Вино, вода и хлеб от голода – вполне достаточно (не в обиду Итану).

Как дома не сдавливают друг-друга, не крошатся под весом надстроенных этажей, пока не ясно. Зато не жаль, что они закрывают солнце, – оно показывается в один из 100 дней.

Совсем в другую сторону увлек музей авиации. Там цельій мир: истории самьіх смельіх людей. Как бьіло тому, самому первому, в капсуле, запущенной в темноту космоса? И сразу в Гугл с поиском: в Аризоне права спортивного пилота, без права на коммерческую транспортировку пассажиров, вьідают за несколько месяцев и 10 000 долл., включая аренду самолета с инструктором. Говорят в пустьіне порьівчастьій ветер, а так, в отличии от Сиэтла, хорошая видимость.

Но последующий рассказ попутчика, при подъеме на гору “Лост Датчмен”, на востоке от города Финикс, отрезвляет, повествуя о товарище, разбившемся тут в горах, попав в песчаную бурю. Летние месяцьі знаменуют мансун. Он приносит резкие ливни и цельіе стеньі пьіли. Попадая в них – видимость, часто, всего пару метров.

Между смелостью и глупостью – один шаг. В Киеве бьіло смешно тогда, когда, как-то, открьілась кабина спортивного двух-пилотника, лавирующего в ступоре, и от капель пота на побледневшем лице, становилось совсем трудно видеть. Смешно, т.к. в тот момент я заметила, что задвижка в кабине, – как у нас в академии..в туалете только, наверно. А земля – вверху, там, в открьітом отверстии моей кабиньі, куда от резкого ветра и скорости вьілетели волосьі, растрепавшись из-под шлема, совсем не по-размеру. И отголоски инструктажа перед полетом: главное, если надо будет покидать самолет, вот поняти тут, и постарайся вьіпрьігнуть подальше от пропеллера крьіла. Но все же хорошо, в итоге?

Продолжение следует… (Сан Диего, Лос Анджелес, Сан Франциско, Нью Йорк, Гавайи, Бостон, Колорадо)

In Search Of The Earnings

“I need one more dollar.” Says a seven-year old boy.

“How much?” Asks him his grandmother.

“Just one more dollar.”

“Do you know what you have to give, in return?” Grandmother asks, then approaches her chick to the boy. He hesitates, bashfully.

“How much do you want it [a dollar]?”

The kid quickly gives a kiss and runs away holding the earned money towards the Italian Ice truck.

Rome was the Wall Street of the II century BC.

Socialists continuously blamed capitalism for the entrepreneurial approach to life, and materialistic morality of the capitalists. However, regardless of the forms of payment and chosen priorities, everything has its price. This statement has been so often argued. Since the I millennium BC the exchange relationships have been turned into the trade, with the invention of money. International trade practices lead to the establishment of the banking system. Rome was the Wall Street of the II century BC with its silver coins, that were quickly overpowering all the other Mediterranean currencies. In fact, accessibility via trade paths became a “match point” of a country’s prosperity. Between now and then, the only difference in the trade relationships is its ethics. With the progression of the mankind, the society has definitely gained humanity. One is no longer owned by another person (like during the slavery times). One is no longer obliged to work, and can not be imprisoned for the refusal to find a job (like in the USSR society).

However, we ended up in the prison of our own expectations and indulgences, attached to the socially globalized systems. The world’s progress is undoubtedly drastic. Especially with the contemporary physics, technology, and anatomical studies. It’s absolutely beautiful. Yet, while one is expecting the soon-to-be-delivered lab-grown, 3D-printed knee for the more and more affordable high-end surgery; another one is still struggling to provide food for the family. Juggling between the casual employment and hustling locally. Many decide to go abroad in search of the earnings.

Such worker doesn’t demand the medical insurance or legal rights; is not a burden for the local taxpayers, and accepts the wage, that none of the local citizens would willingly work for.

The two legal options are: immigration and temporary working (contractor’s) visas. Now, there is a vast difference not only for the person applying for the change of status (or visa), but also for the hosting country. In the first case, in addition to the extra competition, created on the job market and taken advantage of the social benefits, the country also gains a new citizen, that is seeking to assimilate, pay taxes, spend money on the local economy and hopefully contribute to the country’s prosperity. In the second case, the strict immigration policy in the majority of the developed countries, however, forces the people, seeking the earnings internationally, to apply for a temporary worker visa (or in many cases, when the legal process is still not accomplishable, due to the fees and background checking, – to try to cross the border illegally, risking their lives). A legal temporary worker is very welcomed both by the corporations and the government. Such worker doesn’t demand the medical insurance or legal rights; is not a burden for the local taxpayers, and accepts the wage, that none of the local citizens would willingly work for. On the contrary side, these allows the manufacturers to keep the minimum workers’ wage so low, due to the demand on it from the out-of-state workers. As a result, it takes the jobs from the potential local workers. Certainly, this is arguable in terms of the free market economy.

The International Relations Minister of Poland stated, that, according to the National Bank of Poland, Ukrainians sent a total of 5 billion Euros of their earnings from Poland back to their families in Ukraine in 2015.

In addition to this, the temporary workers create the huge cash outflow. After paying the lodging (which is usually very low, due to the sharing practices, where up to six people live in one room) and transportation expenses, the majority of the earnings is an immigrant remittance. One would be surprised by the dedication of such workers. Committed to providing for their children’s food and education, or saving money to start their own business back at home, the temporary workers would work from dusk till dawn, seven days a week, and won’t spend an extra cent on their own needs. These includes Latin American workers in the US and Eastern European (including my home-country Ukraine) workers in the both EU and US. The International Relations Minister of Poland stated, that, according to the National Bank of Poland, Ukrainians sent a total of 5 billion Euros of their earnings from Poland back to their families in Ukraine in 2015. According to the Pew Research Center survey: immigrants to Canada (mostly temporary foreign workers) send billion dollars per capita in remittances out of Canada. The top countries receiving Canadian remittances are: China (which receives $3.9 billion), India ($3.5 billion) and the Philippines ($2 billion). An estimated 582 billion U.S. dollars was sent by the contractors of the foreign origin from the USA to relatives in their home countries in 2015 (according to the Pew Research Center).

These contractors will choose the outrageous working conditions and separation from their families over the unemployment in their home countries. As long as the inflow of the foreign workers is legally processed (or at least looks legally enough), this system seems to satisfy the corporations and hence gets out of the hosting country’s governmental control. The point is, it keeps the production costs low, and selling prices competitive. Objectively, though, these kind of contract jobs are no different from the feudalism in the Middle Ages. The ultimate argument is: “They have an option to stay in the countries of their origin. Consider the pre-unions times in the industrial USA. Or the post war UK. Workers including children had to work on the factories and in the coal mines with no regulated work hours, or wages. And while at that time it was a rather necessity, due to the economical post war crisis; in the contemporary world it seems to simply be the toll to the global competition.

Luckily for my generation, they are a lot better equipped.

While on one hand, there are rapidly increasing board closures (including Brexit; and the promises to build the wall on the South, between the US and Mexico, of the currently running for the US presidency, candidate Donald Trump), on the other hand, I run over more and more friends, who are already abroad or considering to be there soon. All seeking the earnings and simply better opportunities. Luckily for my generation, they are a lot better equipped. They are young, know foreign languages, are proficient in modern technologies. Even though they might consider themselves the global citizens, in the end of the day it means you have no home. Foreigner both abroad and in your country of origin. Most of them look happy regardless. They say, as long as you know, what do you want. But when do you, truly?

U[S]A Dream

They say “art copies life”, but being an artist I can long argue that. However, if one tries to oversee the general picture, one is likely to observe a certain pattern. I narrowed my examples down to the two counties (USA and Ukraine), due to residential status, and hence the highest awareness of these two nations.

The world famous “happy endings” are definitely the US “licensed” feature. It all comes down to the morals in the end of the story, that proves that it was all forth it: the hardships, one survives, and all the battles, that a character wins. To sum up, it’s all about the win for Americans. American candidate running for a president, Donald Trump constantly uses the ‘win’ slogans in the motivational speeches. “We will have so much winning, if I get elected, that you may get bored with the winning,” Trump said. That really seems to be working. It has long become the ultimate purpose. A gymnastics commentator quoted on the men AA individual competition final: “If you ain’t first you’re last” (Scene where Reese Bobby inspires Ricky). In 2016 Olympics in Rio one will find multiple examples to prove this point. Michael Phelps comes back with a baggage of 18 Olympic gold medals and a series of controversies (boredom chased by dui etc.), only to win four more gold medals. Aly Raisman, who scored 59.566, in the individual all-around, tying with Aliya Mustafina of Russia, but lost the bronze in a tie-breaker and placed fourth, comes back four year later to Rio and wins silver over Russian gymnast Mustafina. Bernard Lagat, a 41-year old runner qualified to represent USA at the Olympics for the fifth time in his life. Lagat finished in 13 minutes, 35.30 seconds while Hassan Mead (13.35.70) (second in qualification 5k race).

For the viewers it is like a smell of that apple pie, your grandma used to make, when you were 6. It is familiar and so desirable. The smell of win. But more importantly the win over the best. Michael Phelps was so cheered for, not only for the 18 previously won medals, but because he won over the Chad Le Clos, South African athlete, who had won the gold in London 2012. and later in 2015 had choice words about Phelps. “Michael Phelps has been talking about how slow the butterfly events have been recently,” he said. “I just did a time he hasn’t done in four years. So he can keep quiet now.” And also because he qualified for the next event finals, twenty minutes after receiving that 22nd gold medal on the Olympic podium in Rio on Aug 11. It’s all that drama and nerves that go along with the win, and make you still talk about it years later, just like that best in the world pie.

On the other hand is the picturesque story of Ukraine. The country that is at a constant war for sovereignty, and hence the self-identification, due to its location on the border between the East and the West. Ukrainian National team is ranked top 20 by the number of participating athletes in Rio Olympics 2016. This year is the fourth Olympics for the independent from Moscow Ukraine. As a result of newly formed independent economy, sports (and arts) were left on the “left-over” budget. The athletes are mostly volunteering their health and time, based on pure dedication to the sports. Based on the example revealed by the Ukrainian men gymnastics team, there are no physical therapists, no modern post USSR training equipment, no rehabilitation funds; simple necessities like tapes and hand gloves are donated or bought by sportsmen out of the pockets. And moreover, if the team doesn’t deliver the medals, the funding cuts even lower. That is exactly what happened after London 2012 Olympics, when the Japanese team filed an appeal, believing that Uchimura should have been given more points for his dismount, which although botched in execution, was landed without an actual fall. After a video review by the judges, Uchimura’s score was increased by 0.7 points to 14.166, bringing Japan back to second place for a silver medal, and knocking Great Britain down to third place for a bronze and Ukraine to fourth place, out of the medal standings. Two of the best Ukrainian gymnasts left the team to go abroad, because of the lack of funding. No medals – no cash. So much for the dramatic story build-up.

So when Martha Karolyi (the women’s gymnastics team USA coordinator) comments on her decision at the qualifications finals: “They need to prove themselves. They need to show that they’re able to handle the stress and their routines are very consistent.” – the Ukrainian national team slogan is more likely to be “neck or nothing”. Ukraine doesn’t have a privilege of consistency, but one can be sure it will be the team that throws it all on the table. When you watch Oleg Verniaiev (Ukrainian gymnast) compete in the individual AA face-to-face (in fact leading at times) with the six time world champion, Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, be sure there is some history being written. And even when Oleg fails to score enough for the gold, and lets Kohei seal the championship by the lead of 0.9, it is a miracle of dedication that gets your heart bumping. When Serena Williams’ reign as Olympic women’s singles tennis champion comes to a shuddering halt after a shock defeat by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, there is no place for consistency. It is rather the smell of sweat, produced by adrenaline, when you risked it all at this second. If not now, when?

The little hop during Oleg Verniaiev’s landing at the AA final event separated the gold medal from “what if”. But maybe it is a chance of “what if?”, the adrenaline of allowing yourself this dream of the gold, is what drives the Ukrainians alongside with the American dreamers, regardless of the obstacles surrounding them. It is inspiring to hear Aly Raisman speak of how all the years spent in gym; all the parties, football games and simple teenage joys missed for the cause of sports, are all worth it, when you stand on that pedestal, receiving the medal, and that your life changes completely after that. This is why everyone does it, and this is how it should be.

But there are competitors from team Refugee, who trained for the Olympics without the sneakers, or had to push the boat for three hours just to survive, like Yusra Mardini, 18, or Ukrainian gymnast Verniaiev, who secured the funding for the whole team by winning that medal, that gets a viewer out of the couch and pushes to accomplish more.

These Places Are The Reason I Wake Up (part II)

Continuing the list (These Places Are The Reason I Wake Up (part I)), that so much aspires me make every new step… I just wanted to add that right after finishing the yesterday’s post on Iceland, I read an article on Werner Herzog’s film (that he shot last year in Iceland) Into The Inferno. It tells a story of a volcano eruption, braided into the local mythology. Its presence in Cannes and a notoriety of Herzog to be an exquisite romantic, makes The Inferno another must see.

Thinking back to the point I stopped the list makes all the dreams and pictures arise again. It is, as usual so close, yet so far. Just as far as a the airport. The next one is very special to me:

bison

Montana, USA

I remember I was 14. I was studying in the art school for teens in Kyiv, dreaming of establishing a sanctuary for wolves and becoming a movie director. Most of my friends lived in the neighborhood within walking distance. So I walked. I came to see my friend Ksusha. She was at home in her prolonged bedroom, at the far right corner of the apartment, her family lived at. A lot of defining moments of my life somehow happened there. She was reading a book, that I unfortunately can not remember. We decided to play a game, that was quite common for kids. You ask a question, open a book randomly, read a random passage. This was supposed to be an answer to your question. Usually, one would rather make up the connection between the actually words and the question, just keep it fun. Making text fit the question is quite easy. These time it was different enough to give me shivers. I remember asking a very cheesy question: “Where will I find happiness?”. The lines of the book said straight and clear: go buy the tickets, get on the plane and fly to Montana, USA. I wish I could quote. It was the end of the chapter. My friend and I got silent. No words needed.

Terry Badlands in Montana

I haven’t been to Montana yet. It almost feels like a reserve. In case, it got too unbearable – I would still have a dream to pursue and a place I was promised to find happiness.

Billings,_Montana_the_Yellowstone_River

Beautiful Downtown Neihart, MontanaMission_Mountains_National_Bison_Range_Montana

Montana is on the far north of the US. It shares a great national reserve with Wyoming and   Idaho. Yellowstone National Park is a nearly 3,500 sq. mile wilderness recreation area atop a volcanic hot spot. Montana is also a state, that is famous for its snowboarding. But mostly, it is a secluded place where vast territories make the size a very diluted extension. The Summer is short and the winter is longer, than in most parts of the US. The film Revenant was partly shot there. The movie production team noted, though, the unusually high temperatures and lack of snow that year. Hopefully Montana is still there when I need it. And hopefully that happiness is not covered in snow.

Another place to definitely be at is:

Norway

Oslo – the city of Edvard Munch, who painted the pre XX century icon Scream. Oslo is the capital of Norway, one of the most expensive and happiest countries in the world. If you don’t earn locally, a $20 pint of beer might be a bit too feisty. I can still remember the camping zones of Scandinavian football fans in Kyiv, Ukraine during UEFA Euro 2012. Hypnotized by the $1-2 for a half litter bottled beers, Swedish were countless times noticed by the grocery stores, dragging them by blocks. That followed the articles, that Swedish consumed all of the beer researves at the fan zones.

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Norway is also a very environmental friendly country. It reported to be moving towards banning the gas-burning cars by 2025. Great hiking. Plenty time to commit to it even for a full-time worker. Looks like a dream, on paper, at least to me.

Norway reached a planned 50 000 non-gas cars by 2015
Norway reached a planned 50 000 non-gas cars by 2015
Bergen_Sandviken,_Norway_at_night
Bergen Sandviken, Norway

norway-geirangerNorthern Lights near Tromsø, Norway

So far I only had a chance to visit Finland. It was a rather harsh experience. Granted I was pretty young kid. I remember a hotel that was promised to be right outside of Helsinki. Around an hour drive along the forest, in reality. I remember arriving on Sun just to realize, that nothing is open in Finland on Sundays, including the hotel reception. We found the keys in the mail box, along with a notion that we were the only visitors so far. After a few hours of struggle to find some signs of civilization, lost-in-translation issues, and false hopes to walk to a nearby town center, we managed to call a taxi. It took us to the only, still open bar. They obviously had no food, but alcohol and tea with sugar. A small gas station shop, with its heavenly cookies, was a save-of-the-day. As our further pre-travel research skill developed over time, this trip to Finland, I will never forget. There was the most gorgeous lake right in front of the hotel, surrounded with trees, bigger, than I could grasp. And that also was Finland.

Trollstigen Mountain Road in Norway
As I am watching today’s stage of Tour de France, the look at this photo makes me want to cycle there just too bad.

Lysebotn, Norway

There is much of the useful information for the future travelers, that made me very curious.

Norway landscapenorway

These places are the reason I wake up (part I)

It appears that I accumulated a solid amount of places, that are an absolute must see, while I was thinking on the bucket list. Their absolute beauty makes me ecstatic and motivates everyday to actually get out of bed, and do something, that can bring me closer to any of them. Here is just a few:

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Bolivia

I couldn’t recall what linked me to the country, but it’s picture of the sky reflected in the rainfall-covered desert was deeply curved in my imagination. I read about Salar de Uyuni. It is the world’s biggest salt flat. And just a few times a year, during the rain season in Bolivia, it gets covered by a few inches of water. This makes it the most perfect mirror on Earth. Scientists use it for the satellite calibration. While the local people enjoy its natural salt resources and tourist attraction, as their string to income.

I imagined the surrealism of the place. The infinity. I am obsessed with cycling. The road and the two wheels make me never want to stop, and so I often come back home exhausted and completely happy, laying on the cool floor right next to the dusted bike. I imagine cycling through that salt flat in Bolivia. I imagined the whole cycling competition there, like Tour de France or Giro. The never-ending snake of the peloton. How fascinating that would be? I painted it over and over again. And hope to experience it soon in the real life. If not a race,at least as my own challenge.

 

Chasing The Pink
Chasing The Pink 
Sky is The Limit
The Pink
Flat Tire In The Pink Desert
In the Pink Desert
Almost Emptiness
When Mountings Became Flat 2015
 

 

 

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Iceland

I saw Iceland many times from the plane, during those hideous transcontinental flights. I saw it in one of my favorite movies The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. My friend  found a great reason to go to Iceland: Secret Solstice. It is a music festival, held in Reykjavík over the course of three days in the 24 hour midnight sun during the summer solstice. Iceland also seems to be a thrilling place to see Northern lights. I read a very picturesque description of how to accomplish it the best, in the blog, that was featured on CNN eventually.

Iceland Northern Lightsholidaysempire-laguna-blu-islanda-fly-and-driveIceland1

Iceland was very well described by William Morris:

…on Thursday morning about three Magniisson called me up to see Iceland I think I told you we were to go to Berufirth in the east first of all and we were just at the entrance to it now it is no use trying to describe it but it was quite up to my utmost expectations as to strangeness it is just like nothing else in the world it was a wild morning too very black out to sea and very bright sun under a sort of black canopy over Iceland. (William Morris: Journals of travel in Iceland. 1871. 1873)

  

Secret Solstice 2016.1
Secret Solstice 2016
The only party on Earth incide an ice glasier
The only party on Earth inside an ice glacier
Secret Solstice 2016
Inside an ice glacier
Secret Lagoon Party
Secret Lagoon Event

All The Choices You Gave Up

Choose the print on your T-shirt. Choose your smoothie ingredients. Choose raw food and a favorite yoga pose. Choose virtual reality. Choose a beech and a smoke. Choose occupation and your future kid’s name. We might be the sum of our decisions. We might decide to wake up to the alarm and to drink the dark roasted coffee. Just as someone might decide to say that the more burned the beans are – the stronger a drink. One might choose to think they are uneducable, whereas others are special enough to rule over. How do you make those decisions? And why would you do a thing like that?

 

Sigmund Freud and all of his followers defined the guiding forces of our decisiveness as the basic instincts. Freud said, that all our actions are reasoned subconsciously by the childhood experiences. To control that, we should have all been lead as kids to our personal stalls, according to Freud’s daughter, Anna. She believed, that if one tought a young person to oppress desires and antisocial behaviour, it would help the person to fit into the social model, and thus would create a better and more righteous world.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

Fight For The Pink

Jean-Paul Sartre was an inspired follower of Hegel. He was very opinionated on freedom. His ideas suggested that we are constantly free. Even in jail a man is only restrained, when he decides to escape. No matter how blinded or scared we are, we are responsible for all our choices.

“The prisoner is free because he controls his reaction to imprisonment: he may resist or acquiesce. Since there are no objective barriers to the will, the prison bars restrain me only if I form the will to escape. In a similar example, Sartre notes that a mountain is only a barrier if the individual wants to get on the other side but cannot” (Being and Nothingness, p. 628).

Giant Douche or a Turd Sandwich

In South Park season 8 episode 8 (that aired on October 27, 2004 just before the United States presidential election) they satirise the act of choice in general. There is a big vote happening at the South Park Elementary. The school has to choose the new mascot. The candidates are a “giant douche” and a “turd sandwich”. Stan rejects to vote. He believes there is no point. But the community explained Stan, that he should worship the gained by blood right to choose. The credits are played to take off of the Rock the Vote theme, reworded:

Let’s get out and vote!

Let’s make our voices Heard.

We’ve been given the right to choose,

Between a douche and a turd.

It’s democracy in action!

Put your freedom to the test.

A big fat turd or a stupid douche,

What do you like better?

ART UNDER FIRE - FILM SHOT

Yet here we are: sitting in the offices and complaining about too much work. We are sitting at home and in the bars, and complaining about being unemployed. When we are occasionally asked, why we never quit or find a job, we get protective, we hide behind the reasons. The answer is: we prefer to dig ourselves into the comfort of delegating the responsibility to the outside obstacles. We say: “It is not up to me”, “The circumstances don’t let me”, “I am afraid to disappoint”, “I have other responsibilities”, “We must treasure what we already have”. A kid always knows the consequences, kid’s are not stupid. Yet, he will have no second thoughts. The priority is here and now, and so he acts. Even if it is a bit scary, they will learn and move forward.

In Oresteia (trilogy of Greek tragedies by Aeschylus) Orestes has to avenge his father’s murder. He appears in a situation, where he will be cursed if doesn’t kill his mother (who murdered his father), because ancient law mandates that blood must be paid for with blood. He will be also cursed if he avenges, because his act of kill in turn requires more blood in order to be cleansed. And he will be double cursed if he hesitates. It ends up on a happy note as gods break the cycle and don’t punish him for the committed crime.

 

As to me, I am no better – I avoid responsibility a lot. I rely on circumstances and find excuses. But I am trying to be sincere when making a choice. If it feels right, than it is right. I curved it into my forearm to remind me, if I ever forgot.