Russian Cultural Center To Install Murals

Half a year ago, we announced a contest for a mural to be installed on the sides of the Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas” to render the building more distinct. The painting would draw the attention of those passing by on Bissonnet – especially pedestrians – and encourage them to enter our small building.

Unfortunately, we did not win a grant for the mural. But we decided not to abandon our plans.

Six artists participated in the contest and submitted their works. Each of them had his merits; they all understood that these two limited-square panels must reflect the most remarkable elements of Russian culture and history. Ballet, space, Mukhina’s sculpture “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman”, musical instruments, nesting dolls, and khokhloma painting all come to mind – but what to choose?

On one hand, it was absolutely necessary to represent the character of Russia, and on the other hand, we did not at all want a stereotypical display à la russe.

What type of Russian-Soviet art do people around the world prefer, you might wonder? Which artists do they know, and what style most impresses them? The answer is clear: without a doubt, Constructivism. The posters of Rodchenko and Mayakovsky, Bulanov and Klutsis, Lavnysky and the Stebergs are still considered the standards of the genre. They are displayed in the Museums of Modern Art in London and New York and are models for students around the world.

Among other things, the Constructivists were the first major ad artists. They thought up the ad, considering, first and foremost, its functionality instead of forcing it onto a painting as the artists before them did.

This was precisely the style chosen by the famous chain Saks Fifth Avenue, who invited designer Shepard Fairey to lead its Spring 2009 campaign. The designer of the hugely famous “Hope” poster became an icon during the first presidential campaign of President Obama in 2008. Alluding to Russian symbolism for his Saks campaign, Shepard chooses a red-white-black palette, geometric shapes, and a Russian lettering. The Russian inscription recalls the store’s slogan, “I wanted”.

“What we do every day, really, is propaganda,” said Terron E. Schaefer, the senior vice president for marketing at Saks. Why not turn to the best examples of the genre?

Therefore, our choice fell on the sketches of talented Houston-based artist Maksim Koloskov. Maksim graduated from art school in the town of Volsk before receiving a degree in architecture from the Moscow Architectural Institute. Having moved to Houston, he first worked with the architectural firm Gensler and now works in Rottet Studio. Drawing, painting, and photography have always been his passions. Maksim is very pleased that he will have the opportunity to paint the exterior walls of the Russian Cultural Center. And we, in turn, believe that we are incredibly lucky to have him as our artist.

His proposed western façade did not raise any objections. Silhouettes of the ancient domes of Moscow with an inverted panorama of downtown Houston in red and black against the white background of our building is the best way to convey the idea of our center: the popularization of Russian culture among all the inhabitants of our city. But a debate has begun concerning the eastern façade. First of all, everyone liked the red square in the middle of the Red Army, taken from the famous poster “Have you volunteered?” Only the text along the perimeter of the square was different. It turned out succinct, clear, and vivid, but the depiction of the Red Army was too militaristic for the neighboring kindergarten. Nesting dolls were the solution. Maksim found precisely what was needed: three nesting dolls with strong geometric paintings fit perfectly in the square, and the owners of the kindergarten as well as its visitors should be satisfied.

But a small matter remains: we need to raise $2,800 to realize our plans. We turned to you, our dear readers and lovers of culture. Several of you have already responded to our request: Tanya Grinblat, Olga Vayner, Victoria Filippov, Larissa Buyankina, Yulia Vekshina, – a big “thank you” to them. $345 have been raised to this date. We hope that in the coming months we will succeed in raising our target. You can support us by donating online at or by sending a check in the name of “RCC Our Texas” to 2337 Bissonnet Houston, TX 77005.

We remind you that the Russian Cultural Center is a non-profit organization, so you not only support the spread of Russian culture, but can also deduct your donation from your taxes.

Irina Berman

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