Cultural bond between Russia and the United States,
or Russian Art in America
It's been almost 15 years since the time when the Russian-American Cultural Center was located in the Russian Shipyard building on the Boston Shore of the Atlantic Ocean. That is when I met Joan Willer.
Joan Willer is an unusually tall woman. In America it is a normal
occurrence. In Russia, women that tall are usually basketball players, and often play for in the leading teams.
Back then, the Russian-American Cultural Center hosted a Russian art exhibition based on the collection from Ms. Willer’s gallery of Russian art located in Marblehead, MA, a small tourist town on the coast. Ms. Willer herself resides in the state of New Hampshire.
Joan went to Moscow for the first time in 1959, fifty years ago. Love for Russia, Russian arts and culture settle in her heart forever. Joan’s next trip happened in 1989. This time, Joan was able to
implement her life-long dream of acquiring the original works of local artists.
Upon her return, she organized a small exhibition at home. Gradually, she worked on having several art shows, displaying the purchased paintings. Each year the number of exhibitions increased. Finally in 1990-1991, Joan Willer opened a gallery, which no longer exists today. But back then, different genres of Russian art were represented in a small cozy building on Washington Street. One could also find albums and books about Russia, as well as souvenirs. Joan brought all those items home from her Russian travels.
Ms. Willer clearly gave preference to contemporary graphics, which is why gallery so many graphic works could be found at the gallery; particularly works of such artists as Savosin, Marishev, Vetrov and Nikiriev.
Even back then, during the exhibition at the Russian-American cultural center, I paid close attention to the work of the latter two artists. Joan told me that Vetrov was a student of Nikiriev’s, and that both of them were quite well-known artists in Moscow. Vetrov was also one Joan’s most revered graphic artists. That was why his works were so well represented not only at the exhibitions organized by Joan, but also at her gallery. There one could find not only his graphic works, but also watercolors and posters.
Joan Willer is a businesswoman; her passion for Russian art is just a hobby. However, her desire to introduce a new, unfamiliar art to her countrymen is closely tied to her love for one of the most unique cultures in the world.
We would like to mention that Joan’s son studied Russian language. The gallery owner herself, when we first met, knew only a few Russian words and phrases.
Her love for Russia spread as far as the city of Clinton, where, as you know from my article in the newspaper, a Museum of Russian Icons, the only one in North America and the largest for
outside Russia, recently opened and is successfully operating at this time
It must be true that there is an unbreakable cultural bond between Russia and the United States.