COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A local art gallery is making an international impact as it connects people to the crisis in Ukraine and raises money for an artist living during the war.
Pieces straight from Ukraine are on display at the Art Spirit Gallery on Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The gallery came across the pieces last year and planned to show the work. When the war broke out, moved the screening to the beginning of the year to support the Ukrainian people. Seven paintings are exhibited by Yaroslev Leonets. They were painted years before the war, but today have a profound impact on the community.
Joanne Braun came to the show’s opening weekend on Sunday. She has never met the artist but is deeply moved by what he is going through and wants to support him.
“It was very touching and I shed tears,” Braun said. “I wanted to come see him.
Leonets is hiding in Kiev. Art gallery owner Blair Williams heard from her via email on February 28. He described having experienced an unimaginable war in his native country.
“We were incredibly moved by an email he sent to us,” Williams said.
She was so moved that she framed the email and hung it on the gallery wall for people to read. Through works of art and written pieces, he connects people to the war in Ukraine.
“I just think we’re all connected in the universe, and what’s happening to them is terrible,” Braun said after reading what Leonets is going through.
Williams hopes these connections will grow as people pass by and see the artwork for themselves.
“It expands on this awesome way of having a connection with someone who is going through this horrific time in our world’s history,” she said.
The gallery wanted to do more than just show the masterpieces. Williams took his support to the next level.
“We have decided as a gallery that we do not keep any commission on this work. 100% of sales go directly to the artist,” Williams shared enthusiastically.
On the gallery’s opening weekend, nearly every piece was purchased by Inland Northwest residents. This means over $16,000 will go directly to the artist. They haven’t finished fundraising yet. The gallery plans to take the paintings and make postcards of the portraits. These will also be put up for sale with the funds directly benefiting the Leonets.
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