Ukrainian Institute NY

Since 1955, the Fletcher-Sinclair mansion at 2 East 79th Street and Fifth Avenue has been home to the Ukrainian Institute of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art, music and literature of Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora. The Institute serves both a center for the Ukrainian-American community and as America’s “Window on Ukraine” hosting art exhibits, concerts, film screenings, poetry readings, literary evenings, children’s programs, lectures, symposia and educationl programs, all open to the public. In 1897 the banker, broker and railroad investor Isaac D. Fletcher (1844-1917) commissioned the architect Charles P.H. Gilbert to design a new house. Gilbert designed over 100 large houses in New York City during a career that spanned from the 1880s to the 1920s. As a C.P.H. Gilbert house, the mansion was given a second life as home to the Ukrainian Institute of America. The Fletcher-Sinclair mansion is protected as a contributing element of the Metropolitan Museum Historic District and in 1977 was designated as a National Historic Landmark.


Ukrainian and Russian: Two Separate Languages and Peoples

Nations are dying not from a heart attack. First their language is taken away.
Lina Kostenko
Ukrainian poetess

There are people who say that Ukrainian is a dialect of Russian, or that the two languages are very similar. When traveling in Poland or Slovakia, Ukrainian speakers have no problem understanding the locals and they in turn tend to understand spoken Ukrainian. On the other hand, in Russia if you speak Ukrainian, you will not be understood. So the question is: are the two languages really similar?

Ukrainian is the national language of Ukraine. It belongs to the Eastern Slavic languages, and is therefore part of the Indo-European group of languages. It includes 46 million speakers, which makes it the second (after Russian) most widely spoken Slavic language.

Kostyantyn Tyshchenko, a professor of linguistics at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, made a list of 82 specific features of Ukrainian grammar and phonetics. According to this list, Ukrainian has more features in common with Belarussian (29), Czech and Slovak (23), Polish (22), Croatian and Bulgarian (21) and Slovenian (20), than it has with Russian (11).

Genealogy of the Ukrainian People

The Ukrainian people as a nation appeared at the time of Kyivan Rus, the major Slavic state on the grounds of modern Ukraine, in the 9th-13th centuries. However, the consolidation of the Ukrainian nation as well as the establishment of the Ukrainian language was blocked due to the fact that after the Mongol attack in the 13th century, Kyivan Rus was partitioned and its land was annexed by the Duchy of Lithuania and Poland.

Many historic documents prove that the Ukrainian language, and Ukrainian state, appeared earlier than the Russian ones. Russian comes from the Old Slavonic language, which was introduced by Kyivan colonizers to Muscovites, who were essentially Finno-Ugric. Their language then mixed with Mongolian, reflecting Muscovy’s centuries-long Mongol occupation, and hence has very few similarities with other Eastern Slavic languages.

The phenomenon of “a Russian-speaking Ukrainian”

During the 400 years of occupation of Ukrainian lands by the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, the use of Ukrainian was banned 134 times by the Russian government. It also banned the Ukrainian church, printing of Ukrainian books, traditional songs, Ukrainian-language schools, theaters and libraries. It confiscated religious books and declared Ukrainian cultural activities to be harmful.

In the 20th century, Ukrainians striving for their own identity and independent state were executed, deported to Siberia, tortured and jailed. The most massive murder of Ukrainians took place during the 1932-33 Great Famine genocide (known as the Holodomor in Ukrainian), during which millions of deaths were recorded.

After the Holodomor, the government moved Russians – and therefore Russian speakers – into the depopulated Eastern Ukrainian areas. The Russian government was not satisfied with repressing and banning Ukrainian language and culture. It implemented the policy of russifying the Ukrainian language, in order to make it similar to Russian. It is why even today there are many people in Ukraine who consider Russian to be their native language.

By Viktoria Vovkanets

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Ihor Sikorsky, Father of Modern Helicopters

“The helicopter approaches closer than any other vehicle to fulfillment of mankind’s ancient dreams of the flying horse and the magic carpet.”

Ihor Sikorsky

From the private collection of the Sikorsky family

Ihor Sikorsky, Ukrainian-born American aviation pioneer and father of the modern helicopter, was born in Kyiv in 1889. His mother was a doctor and his father a psychology professor at Kyiv University. In 1933 Ihor wrote to Vasyl Halych, a Ukrainian-born American historian, “My family who comes from a village in Kyiv region, my grandfather and great grandfather were priests. All of my family members were Ukrainians.”

Homeschooled by his mother until age 9, he acquired a love for science through the flying machines in Leonardo da Vinci’s journals and Jules Verne’s books. By age 12, the budding engineer had already built a rubber band powered helicopter.

While studying at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, he designed two helicopters, among the first such designs in the world, as well as a series of biplanes. On December 29, 1911 he established the world speed record (111 km/hr) for a loaded plane (three passengers), the C-6. From 1912 to 1917 he worked as chief designer at a Russian-Baltic aviation company, where he designed and built the first airplanes with multiple engines. In 1918 he emigrated to France, and in 1919 to the United States, where he founded a number of aviation companies and headed several design teams, which constructed various airplanes and hydroplanes. In 1939 he perfected the design of the first successful helicopter in the world. His Sikorsky Helicopter Co developed military and civilian helicopters, and was considered the world leader in its field. In 1941, the company got its first contract from the U.S. Army Air Corps for an observation helicopter that became known for life-saving missions in military and civil emergencies.

Sikorsky’s active professional life overlapped virtually the entire span of practical flight by man, from the Wright brothers’ inventions to space exploration. Few in aviation can claim such a personal contribution with such a wide range of innovative ideas. He complained that, of all his past predictions, those that he lived to regret were on the “too conservative” side.

Sikorsky retired as an engineering manager for his company in 1957 but remained active as a consultant until his death. Sikorsky received many honorary doctorates in science and engineering, honorary fellowships in leading scientific and technical societies in the United States and Europe, and the highest medals and awards in aviation.

Ihor Sikorsky died at his home in Easton, Connecticut, on October 26, 1972. Some of his last words were about Ukraine and his Ukrainian heritage. On his deathbed he proclaimed, “I am coming back to my native holy Kyiv where my distinguished ancestors are resting in peace. I am coming back to rejoin with them in spirit.”

The company he founded continues today as the largest helicopter maker in the world.

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An Interview with Artist Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak

The current exhibition, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak: Nevermore, explores historical socio-political and environmental interests through the artist’s personal search for identity, in light of the recent and prevailing political climate in Ukraine. Curated by Dr. Walter Hoydysh, this is the artist’s first solo exhibition at The Ukrainian Institute of America.

On the occasion of Ms. Bodnar-Balahutrak’s exhibition, which runs through June 21, the Houston-based artist graciously answered selected questions presented by Andrew Horodysky. We are pleased to share this exchange with our friends and wider audience.

AH: Your exhibition currently installed at The Ukrainian Institute of America includes artworks from different series of the past twenty years, or so. Would you consider this a mini-survey? What is integral to the underlining idea(s)?

LBB: With the inclusion of some works available from earlier series, the exhibition did provide an overview from the early 2000’s to the present. The most recent pieces from my ongoing Hide and Seek series are featured in the large room at UIA, while the other room, foyer, and stairwell show earlier works lent from a private NYC collection alongside current works. The entire installation is an opportunity for the viewing public and for me to compare and contrast the artworks and note recurring themes, processes, and media. At the heart of all my work is a discourse about the nature of being, of connection, of home – and the lack thereof.

UIA show installation, large room

UIA show installation, large room

Ukrainian history, especially of past tragic and recent socio-political concerns, is a recurring thematic concern that runs parallel to the artworks on display. How do you separate the objective from the personal?

I don’t see a separation. Each person experiences life from his or her own particular frame of reference, and expresses that as part of a larger whole. From the particular, we extract the universal, and vice versa. At the core, history – with all its socio-political manifestations – resonates with timeless narrative, archetypal metaphors, and relevant meanings. Ukrainian history, just like the history of other nations, taps into the human condition.

Artist with her artwork dealing with Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Barren Fruit, in the Permanent Collection of the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX.

Artist with her artwork dealing with Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Barren Fruit, in the Permanent Collection of the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX.

What research do you undertake?

My research is not that of a scholar. I read and collect news reports, commentaries and essays about past and current events that I find interesting and relevant. I investigate the written word as well as the general nature of disseminated information. I review the content of saved articles in chronological order and see discrepancies, data changes, omissions, and I question the authenticity and power of the media to wholly inform us. What is truth? What is “truthiness”? What is disinformation? What is propaganda? Who decides what is circulated and what is suppressed?

Text-based art was an idea-based vehicle for the 20th century avant-garde, and continues to be explored by contemporary artists, worldwide. What is the role of this course in your work, both conceptually and formally?

Text, in the form of newspaper clippings, wordplay, or poems embedded in my work, plays a primary role in my process. I firmly believe in the power of language – that a single word has physical presence, has weight, and can affect tremendous change. In my artwork, print material, symbolic mementoes and cultural artifacts are collaged onto canvas or board in a sort of self-perpetuating dialogue. The process of selectively obliterating and/or highlighting the words and images with paint, chalk or wax, reflects our experiences of events – they submerge, resurface, and unravel over time. Some elements remain visible, others are obscured, mimicking the way truth about anything and everything is “hidden and sought.”

Nature is depicted not solely as a political and environmental undertaking, but also embraces the spiritual realm. Describe that relation in your artworks.

My 1996 visit to the Chornobyl Zone left a lasting impression. I was struck by nature’s power of reclamation and regeneration. Vines were growing over the dust and decay; tree roots were breaking through concrete. Though at times nature, with its cycles and patterns, can become rampant, invasive and destructive, that visual metaphor evoking renewal, healing and hope has stayed with me. While the verdant blades of grass shroud the Holodomor in Will the Grass Grow Over It?, the words of Vassily Grossman implore us to remember, acknowledge, and commemorate this historic tragedy and not let the grass “grow over it.”

How has your work changed or evolved in the last twenty years? Early in your career, you worked with traditional materials – applying oil to canvas and pencil to paper. Gradually, you began collecting and applying objects into your artworks, experimenting with media, and creating multi-layered matter.

We all evolve and change over our lifetimes. At first, the human figure was my primary subject matter, but my first trip to my ancestral homeland of Ukraine in 1991 was a turning point in my creative work and my world view. In the spring of 1991, I received a grant from IREX to travel to Ukraine for the first time. This trip opened my eyes and soul to a land beautiful but ravaged by the Soviet system. After that first trip, I began reading and photocopying texts, and bringing together material about little-known historic events of Ukraine, among these the Holodomor. My art-making expanded to include seemingly disparate processes of gold-leafing, torching, scoring, tearing, layering, collaging fragments of text and photo images, incorporating liturgical conceits, treasured mementoes and handmade items, and melding organic and inert materials. I broke with traditional notions of drawing and painting and explored identity and cultural ties through mixing media and combining text, narrative, and figuration. Each subsequent trip to Ukraine deepened my interest in the nature of communication and history.

As a visual and tactile experience, how does the multi-media process simplify or complicate your thinking of the artwork at hand?

The visual and tactile are inseparable. They are born of improvisation and an integration of materials, processes and time. Images evolve from the mark-making of drawing, painting, scraping, and veiling with paints, inks, chalks, resins, and wax. The grounds are pieced together narratives made of text and images, and bits of ephemera – embroidery, money, correspondences, stamps, maps – that viscerally evoke the human presence. All had been made by hand, or had been passed through many hands.

What do you think about the participatory role of your audience? Do you have an ideal viewer of your work?

With each artwork I initiate a discourse, not only with myself and my materials, but with the audience. I invite the viewer to be open, to engage with the work, to take it in from afar and then close-up, to allow the image built up from layers to coalesce at a distance, then to be drawn in for close reading of the many parts that make up the whole. The ideal viewer approaches the work with no preconceived notions and surrenders to the play of “hide and seek.”

How did you decide to be an artist in the first place? What was the impetus?

I don’t ever remember a time of consciously making a decision to be an artist. I’ve just always been enchanted by the magic of making marks and conjuring up images and forms that had not existed before, and took on lives of their own. Early on, I was fascinated by people’s reactions to my work. It was a way of learning about the world and my place in it. From the outset, it seems, art-making was a means of continual discourse.

What is the strongest memory of your childhood? Did your upbringing influence your work?

I’m a child of post-World War II immigrants. I grew up in a multi-generation Ukrainian community in Ohio and was fortunate to have all four grandparents during my formative childhood years. I was immersed in their storytelling, remembrances, and their yearning for Ukraine, which seemed like a mythical faraway place to me. In my family, not a day went by without engaging in some measure of creative work – embroidery, sewing, baking, singing, reciting poetry, planting gardens… The joyful artfulness of it all never escaped me; I embraced it. The profound aesthetic underpinnings I came to appreciate much later, when I embarked on a formal study of art.

Your grandfather was a Ukrainian Catholic priest. How did he influence your work, as spirituality is reflected throughout?

My paternal grandfather was a Uniate priest. Throughout my childhood I participated in liturgical and traditional rituals steeped in deep spirituality, reverence, and awe. I remember accompanying my grandfather to church, and watching him put on his vestments in preparation for Liturgy. At those moments he was wondrously transformed, yet he was still my grandfather. There have been so many of those kinds of sacramental moments. I’m inclined to see the world as reverential.

What are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future?

I’m continuing with my ongoing Hide and Seek, Nests, and poem text series. This fall through spring 2016, an exhibit of my work will travel to three college venues as part of the Deliberative Dialogs project addressing socio-political issues and citizens’ awareness and responsibility, organized by Lone Star College in Texas. Translating poems from Ukrainian to English has recently become an additional task I set for myself. Words – their visual shapes, patterns and rhythms, have become the content of much of my work. At first, the letter forms as abstract marks and graphic design alone sufficed. But now, I am compelled to also communicate the language, the grouped words’ meanings. It’s quite a challenge.

During your recent stay in New York, did you see any exhibitions of particular interest to you?

During this trip’s visit to galleries and museums, I took particular note of the remarkable presence of language in so much wonderful artwork. I encountered thoughtful work that pulls the viewer in to probe and contemplate the issues of our time – art that stimulates a deeper discourse rather than daily superficial hyped-up sound-bites. It was inspiring.

Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak: Nevermore is on view through June 21, 2015 at The Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York, NY. Hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 12-6pm, or by appointment. For further infor-mation, please call Olena Sidlovych at (212) 288-8660.


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Alexander Archipenko, First Cubist Sculptor

None of the sculptors since Rodin made a greater impact in his time like Archipenko. It was in the first decade of his artistic life that he created new laws of modern sculpture and rose in art history as a leader of the art revolution and drew in many others.

Svyatoslav Hordynsky,
Ukrainian artist, poet and writer

Archipenko at his New York studio. 1960 Photo: A. Paschuk

Archipenko at his New York studio. 1960
Photo: A. Paschuk

Every book about twentieth century art mentions Alexander Archipenko. While alive, he was acknowledged as one of the most acclaimed sculptors in the world. His works are in collections at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMa and Guggenheim Museum in New York, and at museums in Stockholm, Berlin and Tel-Aviv. Archipenko is a national artist in France, Germany and the United States where he lived and created. Notwithstanding this, with his unique art, he raised awareness of Ukrainian culture to a higher level more than any Ukrainian diplomat could have.

Archipenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1887. After studying painting and sculpture at Kyiv Art School, in 1908 he briefly attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, he quickly abandoned formal studies to become part of more radical circles, especially the Cubist movement. He began to explore the interplay between interlocking voids and solids and between convex and concave surfaces, forming a sculptural equivalent to Cubist paintings’ overlapping planes, thus revolutionizing modern sculpture. In his bronze sculpture Walking Woman (1912), for example, he pierced holes in the face and torso of the figure and substituted concavities for the convexities of the lower legs. The abstract shapes of his works have a monumentality and rhythmic movement that also reflect contemporary interest in the arts of Africa.

As he developed his style, Archipenko achieved an incredible sense of vitality out of minimal means: in works such as Boxing Match (1913), he conveyed the raw, brutal energy of the sport in nonrepresentational, machinelike cubic and ovoid forms. About 1912, inspired by the Cubist collages of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, Archipenko introduced the concept of collage in sculpture in his famous Medrano series, depictions of circus figures in multicolored glass, wood, and metal that defy traditional use of materials and definitions of sculpture. During that same period he further defied tradition in his “sculpto-paintings,” works in which he introduced painted color to the intersecting planes of his sculpture.

Archipenko was represented in the New York Armory Show of 1913 and in many international Cubist exhibitions. In 1921 he moved to Berlin and opened an art school. During that time his works were as famous in Europe as those of Picasso.

In 1923, Archipenko immigrated to the United States. He established an art school in New York City, and in the following year, moved it to Woodstock, NY. Showing his broad interests and widely inventive mind, he created and received a patent for changeable pictures (peinture changeante) known as Archipentura and Apparatus for Displaying Changeable Pictures. Besides working at his art, Archipenko devoted much time to teaching. He was in constant contact with various universities, among them those in Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago (the New Bauhaus School). In 1927 an exhibition of his works was arranged in Tokyo. In New York, he established a school of ceramics, Arko. In the 1930s, his work appeared in the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. In 1947, Archipenko created the first sculptures out of transparent materials (plastics) with interior illumination (modeling light). In the following years, Archipenko tried his hand at moving figures, which were mechanically rotating structures built of wood, mother of pearl, and metal. At Biennale d’Arte Trivenata in Padua, Italy, he received the gold medal. In later years, he again concentrated on industrial materials, in which he demonstrated his taste for dazzling polychromy. Juan Gris wrote about Archipenko’s influence on the art of the early 20th century: “Archipenko challenged the traditional understanding of sculpture. It was generally monochromatic at the time. His pieces were painted in bright colors. Instead of accepted materials such as marble, bronze or plaster, he used mundane materials such as wood, glass, metal, and wire. His creative process did not involve carving or modeling in the accepted tradition but nailing, pasting and tying together, with no attempt to hide nails, junctures or seams. His process parallels the visual experience of cubist painting.”

Archipenko never severed his ties with his countrymen. During his first years in Paris he was a member of the Ukrainian Students’ Club; in Berlin, a member of the Ukrainian Hromada; and in the United States, a member of the Ukrainian Artists’ Association in the USA. He belonged to the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences and was an honorary member of the Ukrainian Institute of America where he was exhibited multiple times.

Archipenko died February 25, 1964, in New York.

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Art @ the Institute, Exhibit Forms & Metaphors II by Georgian and Ukrainian artist Temo Svirely

Georgian-Ukrainian artist Temo Svirely returned to the Ukrainian Institute of America with Forms and Metaphors II.  Some 30 paintings in both figurative and abstract styles  were shown from October 19 -November 11, 2012, at the Ukrainian Institute’s historic headquarters at 2 East 79th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City. An opening reception with the artist was held on October 19, 2012.

Svirely is well known for his artistic experiments with energy, space, and expression. He writes: “Inconsistency is the universal quality of the universe. In this prism forms and non-forms, abstract and real, pain and joy, creation and destruction, life and death are not contradictory ideas but equal manifestations of the constantly moving cycle of cause and effect. Consequently I apply this or that artistic form of expression as a means of conveying as well as possible the essence of the world in which I live and breathe.”

The artist has exhibited in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Russia, as well as his native Georgia and Ukraine. He was born in Zhinvali, Republic of Georgia, in 1964 and graduated from the Zhinvali Art School and the Tblisi Academy of Fine Arts. He lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine.

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“Art at the Institute” is sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America, 2 East 79th Street, New York.

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An Evening with ZENIA MUCHA

On Saturday, October 20, the Ukrainian Institute of America and Branch 113 of UNWLA presented An Evening with Zenia Mucha, a successful and spirited question and answer session with the current Executive Vice President, Chief Communications Officer for The Walt Disney Company, and former powerhouse advisor to politicians Governor George E. Pataki and Senator Alfonse D’Amato.

After an introduction by Branch president Christina Samilenko and brief remarks by Mucha—during which the 2012 Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications stressed the importance of the work ethic and sense of limitless possibility that her immigrant parents had instilled in her—the floor was opened to questions. The diverse capacity audience included many young communications professionals eager to hear from a superstar in their field, as well as, much to Mucha’s delight, some of her former classmates from the East Village’s St. George Ukrainian Catholic School. Topics ranged between the personal, the political, and the professional; in response to a crowd appreciative of her time and achievements, Mucha was generous in turn, and answered questions for well over an hour.

While deeply committed to and inspired by her work over the past decade with the Walt Disney corporation, many of Mucha’s most revealing comments had to do with her enormously influential time in the public sector. A life-long Republican, Mucha, whose biggest personal and professional regret is not being in New York on September 11, 2001, spoke candidly about the disenfranchisement she feels from the current iteration of the party, which she characterized as consumed with a focus on social issues to the detriment of the kind of impact-making policies she had a hand in shaping during her tenure with Governor Pataki. And while her time with the Governor was among the happiest and most professionally fulfilling in a career full of highlights, best—or at least most influential—boss honors went to Senator D’Amato, whose indefatigable energy and high expectations of those around him resulted in Mucha’s developing the consummate communications skill set that laid the foundation for her ascension to the very highest ranks in that field.

When Mucha spoke of her time at Disney, it was the company’s commitment to quality and the way in which it represents America around the globe that seemed to inspire her most—as well as the fact that her job allows her to interface with each facet of the company, making every day different from the next. While she side-stepped the inevitable “What Disney princess would you be?” question, Mucha did admit that, like all top executives, she had to take a costumed turn around the theme park as part of her corporate initiation process. The memory of rapturous responses from young fans clearly left Mucha moved, but the strategic communicator in her was loathe to divulge the Disney character involved. But perhaps the most direct answer of the evening came in response to a young woman curious as to how Mucha navigated her way to the pinnacle of such an iconic company (she reports directly to Disney CEO Robert Iger). “Well, I came in at the top,” said Mucha with a well-earned chuckle. “So I can’t really answer that question.”

At the conclusion of the Q & A, Mucha was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a selection of catalogs from the Ukrainian Museum. The reception immediately following featured an abundant culinary spread and a continuation of the lively dialogue that preceded it. Mucha stayed and answered questions until the very end of the evening, a Los Angeles-based power broker happy to be back among the community and in the city that shaped her destiny.

by Adriana Leshko

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MATI presented “IMMORTAL BELOVED” All-Beethoven Program. Dedicated to the memory of Irena Stecura.

On Saturday, October 6, 2012 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, Music at the Institute (MATI) presented “IMMORTAL BELOVED” All-Beethoven Program. The concert was dedicated to the memory of MATI co-founder Irena Stecura.

Іrena Stecura (1931-2011). Іrena Skvirtnianska Stecura was born in Krakow Poland on June 27, 1931. With the end of World War II, the family gained admission through the displaced persons camps in Austria to the United States. They settled in New York City, where Irena became an active member of the Ukrainian community and of the Ukrainian Scouting Organization, Plast. A competent pianist, she completed an MA in Music at CUNY’s Hunter College and then embarked on a singularly fertile activist career for the promotion of the arts and of Ukrainian artists. Irena Stecura managed the off-Broadway New Theatre (1964-1974) in New York City, while also working with the legendary Ukrainian-born impresario Sol Hurok (1988-1974) who was responsible for introducing the Bolshoi and Kirov ballet companies to American audiences. She became a member of the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Institute of America, where she founded the successful Music at the Institute (MATI) program. On October 28, 1989, MATI’s inaugural evening featured pianist Alexander Slobodyanik (1941-2008) and his son pianist, Alex Slobodyanik. Future MATI events showcased the violinist Oleh Krysa with his wife pianist Tatiana Tchekina and sons violinists, Petro and Taras Krysa, the pianist Mykola Suk, pianist Lydia Artymiw, the Lysenko Quartet, among others. Irena Stecura was generous and unwavering in her efforts to spotlight artists from Ukraine and help them gain wider recognition in the West. Self-employed as a real estate agent, she opened up her own apartment on Central Park West as an art gallery. Her selfless promotion of the artists and the arts did not go unnoticed.
In 1993, after Ukraine’s independence, Irena Stecura settled permanently in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, from where she thought herself best positioned to continue her mission of raising domestic and foreign awareness of the needs of Ukraine’s artists struggling under post-Soviet conditions. Invited to act as advisor to Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism in August 1993, Irena established the Ukrainian Artist Management Agency (based in New York City) to remedy the lack of support and proper management hindering the careers of Ukraine’s artists. She created a seminar series entitled “The Classics are Classy”–which she herself wrote and moderated and took on the road from Kyiv to Lviv, Vinnytsia, and Zhytomyr. In addition, Irena published a biweekly Kyiv Entertainment Guide through which she informed the public—and especially tourists to Ukraine —about performances scheduled in Kyiv. Along with other arts enthusiasts, she took on a major renovation project of one of Kyiv’s cultural landmarks, establishing the “Friends of the National Art Museum of Ukraine”. However, lacking adequate funding or government support, she was forced to abandon this important project.
In 1998, Irena Stecura produced a CD of Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy St. John Chrysostom (Op.41, 1880) performed by Viktor Ovdij with the Kyiv Chamber Choir, directed by Mykola Horbych. She wrote critical reviews of many performances offered in Kyiv, for example, concerts given by the composers Volodymyr Rynchak and Myroslav Skoryk, and many others. Irena was the eternal optimist, never losing sight of the larger goal of Ukraine’s return to Europe, and never losing faith in her vision. She died on November 18, 2011, in Ternopil and is buried nearby on Ukrainian soil.

At the concert performed Randall Scarlata, baritone; Solomiya Ivakhiv, violin; Amit Peled, cello; Gilbrt Kalish, piano.

Hailed for his warm, expressive sound, consummate musicianship, and winning way with the audience, baritone RANDALL SCARLATA enjoys an unusually diverse career. He is equally comfortable singing recital, opera, oratorio, chamber music, and works for voice and orchestra. He has performed as soloist with the symphonies of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, the American Symphony, and the National Symphony, among others. In addition, he has appeared at international music festivals, including Ravinia, Marlboro, Menlo, Edinburgh, Vienna, Salzburg, Aspen, Spoleto, and on concert stages across five continents. A frequent performer of new music, he has given world premieres of works by Ned Rorem, George Crumb, Richard Danielpour, Christopher Theofanidis, Thea Musgrave, Daron Hagen, Samuel Adler, and Paul Moravec. His numerous recordings can be heard on the Chandos, Bridge, Naxos, Albany, Arabesque, CRI, and Gasparo labels. Mr. Scarlata’s awards include First Prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, First Prize at the Das Schubert Lied International Competition in Vienna, First Prize at the Joy in Singing Competition in New York, and the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital Award. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, and also attended Vienna’s Hochschule für Musik as a Fulbright Scholar. He currently serves on the faculties of SUNY Stony Brook and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at West Chester University.

Violinist SOLOMIYA IVAKHIV has quickly earned a reputation for performing with “a distinctive charm and subtle profundity” (Daily Freeman). Born in Ukraine, she made her debut with the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of thirteen and has won top prizes in competitions, including the Sergei Prokofiev Competition and Fritz Kreisler Charles Miller Award from the Curtis Institute of Music. Ms Ivakhiv has performed at major festivals, including Steamboat Springs, Musique de Chambre à Giverny in France, Prussia Cove in England, and her performances have aired on National Public Radio, Voice of America Radio, Ukrainian National Radio and Television, and China’s Hunan Television. As a chamber musician, Ms Ivakhiv collaborates with many of today’s finest artists, including Joseph Silverstein, Claude Frank, Gary Graffman, and Steven Isserlis. Ms. Ivakhiv is in her second year as the Artistic Director of the “Music at the Institute” Concert Series (MATI). Ms Ivakhiv is a graduate of the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music and holds a Doctorate of Music Arts degree from Stony Brook University. Her principal teachers have been Joseph Silverstein, Pamela Frank, the late Rafael Druian, and Philip Setzer. Dr. Ivakhiv is performing on Antonio Stradivari “Nachez” Violin made in 1686. This instrument is generously loaned to her by Dr. Winifred and Mr. John Constable of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

From the United States to Europe to the Middle East to Asia, Israeli cellist AMIT PELED, a musician of profound artistry and charismatic stage presence, is acclaimed as one of the most exciting instrumentalists on the concert stage today. He has performed as soloist with many orchestras and in the world’s major concert halls, including Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls in New York, Salle Gaveau in Paris, London’s Wigmore Hall, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, and Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium. He is also a frequent guest artist as such prestigious music festivals as Marlboro, Newport, Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, Schleswig Holstein and Euro Arts (Germany), Gotland (Sweden), Prussia Cove (England), The Violoncello Congress in Spain, and the Kfar Blum Music Festival in Israel. As a recording artist, Mr. Peled has just released two critically acclaimed CDs: The Jewish Soul and Cellobration on the Centaur Records label. Amit Peled has been featured on television and radio stations throughout the world, including NPR’s Performance Today, WGBH Boston, WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, Deutschland Radio Berlin, Radio France, Swedish National Radio & TV, and Israeli National Radio and Television. A highly sought-after pedagogue, Mr. Peled is professor of cello at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University. Amit Peled is performing on Pablo Casal’s Matteo Goffriller cello, made in 1700 and generously loaned to him by Mrs. Marta Casals Istomin and the Casals Foundation.

Pianist GILBERT KALISH leads a musical life of unusual variety and breadth. His profound influence on the music community as educator and as pianist in myriad performances and recordings has established him as a major figure in American music making. A solo artist who has released over 100 recordings, he is also noted for his frequent appearances with many of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles and for his collaboration with soprano Dawn Upshaw, cellist Joel Krosnick, and, above all, mezzo soprano Jan de Gaetani. Mr. Kalish was the pianist of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for 30 years and a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a group devoted to new music that flourished during the 1960s and 70s. In 2007, he was invited to be an artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed recitals in most of the major musical capitals and also appears as soloist at many leading music festivals, including Mostly Mozart in New York and the Brighton and Aldeburgh Festivals in England. He has given world premieres of works by Elliot Carter, George Crumb, Charles Ives, Leon Kirchner, George Perle, Ralph Shapey, and David Diamond. Columbia, Desto, Folkways, Acoustic Research, Bridge, and Nonesuch are among the many labels for which Mr. Kalish has made numerous recordings of solo works, chamber music, and as accompanist. His recordings encompass classical repertory, 20th century masterworks, and new compositions. As a highly influential educator, Mr. Kalish is Distinguished Professor and Head of Performance Activities at SUNY at Stony Brook (since 1970). From 1968 to 1997, he was a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center, serving as “chairman of the faculty” from 1985 to 1997. He has also been a guest on the faculties of the Banff Center and the Steans Institute in Ravinia. Mr. Kalish is the recipient of a number of awards for his exceptional contributions to chamber music and to music of our time.

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Art @ the Institute, Exhibition Ukrainian Socialist Realism. The Jurii Maniichuk & Rose Brady Collection

If you missed the Ukrainian Institute of America’s recent exhibit, Ukrainian Socialist Realism, you missed a great show of paintings by Ukrainian artists of the 1950s-1980s. But you can still see gems of the Collection of Jurii Maniichuk and Rose Brady at the Ukrainian Institute’s building on 2 E. 79th St. in New York City now. The Institute recently renovated the fourth floor of its historic building and is dedicating it to the arts. Works from the Maniichuk-Brady collection will be on display through 2018.

The exhibit, Ukrainian Socialist Realism, ran from September 14th through October 7th. More than 300 people attended the opening reception on Sept. 14, one of the best turnouts ever for an Institute opening. About 80 people took part in the symposium on the subject, “Ukrainian Socialist Realism: Propaganda or Art?” on Sept. 16. Artist and Graphic Designer Hilary Zarycky, Professor Alexander Motyl of Rutgers University, and Professor Lyudmila Lysenko of the Ukrainian Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture addressed the issues of art and propaganda. See Professor Motyl’s recent article, “Seeing Ukrainian Socialist Realism,” in the World Affairs Journal.

Ukrainian Socialist Realism displayed paintings collected by the late Jurii Maniichuk, a Ukrainian-American lawyer who worked as a consultant for the World Bank in Kyiv in the mid-1990s. The works have never been shown outside the Soviet Union. As artists and museums struggled in the economic turmoil of the 1990s in newly independent Ukraine, Maniichuk assembled a small team of art specialists to help him assemble a collection of museum quality paintings of a genre in danger of being destroyed. Maniichuk legally transported these paintings from Ukraine to the U.S. in 1999. Maniichuk died unexpectedly in 2009 while visiting Ukraine. His wife, Rose Brady, now administers the collection.

You are invited to post your comments about the paintings or the show on this blog or to email Rose Brady at

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