From Russia with paint

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vladimir Vorotchaev has painted a California redneck, beautiful women, a dancer, clown, landscapes and his impressions of the Twin Towers' fall behind the image of an American eagle about to grasp a Taliban soldier on a donkey.

The Latvian-born artist left his home in San Diego, Calif., for Lewisburg where he's planning an art studio behind his house. Vlad and his wife, Renee, selected Lewisburg during a search for another place to live. They used the Internet and other resources.

On Friday, Vorotchaev's paintings were on display in the Corner Café on Lewisburg's public square. The four-hour show included dining on the café's new deck.

Jerry Stoltz of Collins Hollow Road said, "It's hard to pick out a favorite" from the show, but he likes Vorotchaev's Madonna and Child.

"You can see it in her eyes that she knows what's going to happen," Stoltz said.

Winter Janecek, 8, of Fourth Avenue, has a more direct interpretation of Vorotchaev's work: "It's very cool. The paintings are very artistic."

A more recent creation portrays a Tennessee Mermaid who, he said, is crying for Nashville's flood.

Born in 1951, Vorotchaev started drawing as a child at age 8. He won the Riga Children's Art competition in 1959. Last year he was the featured artist for Cirque Du Soleil's Zumanity Anniversary.

Actress Sandra Bullock has one of his paintings, according to publicity from Cirque Du Soleil. It says his art is displayed in the homes of the president of Puerto Rico, the mayor of Haifa and other government figures. He was the San Diego Portrait Society's top artist two years in a row.

Vorotchaev immigrated to America in 1990. The Republic of Latvia is in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It's one of the poorest states in the European Union. Once a part of the Russian Empire, Latvia came under Soviet control in the mid-1940s. More than 100,000 Latvians were sent to the gulag.

Friday, he was asked if he'd join the art guild here.