The Crisis in Ukraine has brought three women and the Ann Arbor Arts Community Together

Irina, Irene and Barbara with group supporting Ukraine Thanksgiving Day outside UM Stadium

Irina, Irene and Barbara with group supporting Ukraine Thanksgiving Day outside UM Stadium

The Crisis in Ukraine has brought three women together with two common bonds, compassion for Ukraine and a passion for art. Irina Bondarenko, Irene Mokra and myself have been working together to organize an art sale to benefit individuals injured during the protests in Kyiv. It will be held Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 4844 Jackson Road, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Our goal may be the same but our connections to Ukraine are different. My father emigrated from Western Ukraine when he was 19. I have visited there 3 times. The first during Soviet times. Irina Bondarenko is from Kyiv. Her father was protesting in Maidan during the winter. Irene Mokra is from Lviv and also has family who remain in Ukraine.

In February the relatively peaceful demonstrations ended when police began to clash with the protestors. Police began to fire guns with both rubber bullets and then live ammunition. The death toll is estimated to over be 100 (the Heavenly Hundred), with thousands injured, and almost two hundred missing.

Irina could sit still no longer. She sent out plea for help. The email read: “Many of you have heard about dramatic events that have shaken Ukraine. A new hope for democratic development has been born as a result of a three-month standoff on Maidan in Kyiv. Many Ukrainian artists came to the square to be with the people, to play music, to paint and photograph, to give to the movement a voice that does not need translation. They feel that the artist cannot stand aside in this struggle. We too would like to help that cause, and support the people who had enough courage to come to Maidan, risking their safety and the welfare of their families. After the tragic events of February 18-20 we also want to support the families of those who were brutally killed by armed forces. We decided to organize a charity art sale to provide a humanitarian aid to the people who revolted against tyranny”. Irene and I were the first to answer her call.

I didn’t hesitate to think. My Ukrainian heritage has been part of who I am since I was a child. I remember a day in elementary school in the 1960’s. We were celebrating diversity (they didn’t call it that back then). When it was my turn to share my ethnic background, the other children laughed and teased “you made that up.” I went home and asked my dad; “Are you sure we aren’t Polish, German, Irish, or Mexican, like my other friends. ” My father said; “No, you are Ukrainian. Never be ashamed of who you are.”

Acknowledging these ethnic ties does not mean diminishing others who are different. I grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Southwest Detroit. I didn’t have any Ukrainian friends. I learned to be proud of who I am, yet appreciate my multicultural environment.

Ukrainian Art Sale Flyer April 2014f

Irina Bondarenko

Irina Bondarenko


Irina has a gift for making Pottery and takes classes at the Pottery Guild.

Barbara Melnik Carson

Barbara Melnik Carson


I am a Narrative Sculptor using clay and reclaimed objects to convey a story or a mood. Currently I am focused on exhibited and selling work in Michigan; River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, Dancing Dog Gallery in Ann Arbor, Black Door Galley in Tecumseh, and the Riverside Arts Center Gallery Gift shop all sell my work.

Irene Mokra

Irene Mokra


Irene is skilled at painting and drawing. She attends a figure drawing class in the AAWA space on Jackson Road.

Today I am proud to be a part of a generous community of artists who have all joined us by donating their art for our sale to benefit those injured in the wintery protests on Maidan in Ukraine. We have over 70 artists who have agreed to have their work sold for $50 or less, to help this cause.

Please join us on Saturday, April 26, 2-6:30 at 4844 Jackson road in Ann Arbor, MI. Our sale is being sponsored by UNWLA (Ukrainian National Women’s League of America) and WCA-MI (Women’s Caucus For Art).

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Detroit; Tale of Two Cities

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When I think about Detroit it is difficult for me to separate my past from its’ future. Growing up in the ethnically diverse Southwest Detroit, I had a childhood filled with adventure, danger and wild imagination. The neighborhood school playground was gravel and glass. Any fall there resulted in painfully picking pebbles and broken glass from your wound, before cleaning your scrape. I lived through riots and renaissance. There has always been a duality to the city of both death and resurrection. It is the best of times and the worst of times. I believe today more than ever it is the tale of two cities. The piece above illustrates some of those feelings it’s available at the Rivers’s Edge.

The River’s Edge Gallery is currently featuring “Between Heaven and Earth,” an exhibition featuring Birgit Huttemann-Holz, encaustic paintings and Tom Szmrecsanyi, ceramic sculpture, October 5- November 30, 2013. The Opening is tonight 7-11PM.

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Coastal Maine

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Being in a coastal town; I inhale the sea air, the breezes splash me, the taste of salt lingers on my lips, while waves wash me with their rhythmic lullabies. The experience is simultaneously invigorating and calming. I don’t want to leave.

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Art and Community

I am grateful for the opportunity to exhibit my artwork in these four galleries. From the soon to open Dancing Dog Gallery, which is looking for support on Kickstarter, to River’s Edge Gallery celebrating 30 years of showcasing Detroit area artists.

Opening Soon Dancing Dog Gallery in Ann Arbor.

Opening Soon Dancing Dog Gallery in Ann Arbor.

Dancing Dog Gallery will be a co-op gallery which will showcase artwork by it’s founding members; Sophie Grillet, Bill Knudstrup, Matruka Sherman, Missy Cowan, Sarah Clark Davis, Molly Indura, Susan Clinthorne and Susan Finley as well as associate and visiting artists. It will also add to the Ann Arbor Art scene by scheduling exhibits, workshops and other community events.

Black Door Gallery Soon to Celebrate it's second year in Tecumseh

Black Door Gallery, soon to Celebrate it’s second year in Tecumseh

Black Door Gallery will be hosting it’s Annual Plein Air Paint Out and Artist Reception in Downtown Tecumseh August 9th. September 26th the gallery will participate in Downtown Diva at Dusk.

Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti

Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti

Riverside Gallery has a gift shop and exhibitions including Local, Michigan, Regional and National artists. Currently the Gallery is hosting the annual Ann Arbor Women Artists Summer Exhibit. Artists have until September 9, 2013 to enter their “Great Lakes Small Works Exhibit.”. It’s open to anyone 18 or older living in any of the eight Great Lakes States.

River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte

River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte

River’s Edge Gallery did a Pop-Up Space in Detroit in June of this year. Their gallery continues to be a hub of excitement and community after all these years. In August they will host an exhibit of artwork from the board of Women’s Caucus for Art in Michigan.

All four of these galleries are spaces vital to their downtown communities. I’d like to give a special thanks to the gallery founders and directors who have helped to support and influence me as an artist, as I continue to emerge. Thank you; Matruka Sherman, Susan Amstutz, Dee Overly, Patt Slack and Jeremy Hansen.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Golden Hour

Weekly Photo Challenge: Golden Hour

Lake Michigan Sunset

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Vacation; What you carry with you and what you bring home.

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Taking time to notice a beetle near the beach.

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This beetle found me, landing on my finger. I immediately recognized it as a bug I had spent some summer months with when I was in my teens. My sister had a cottage on an inland lake in Michigan. Growing up in Detroit, sometimes our only relief from heat were the occasionally opened fire hydrants. I traded the simmering city asphalt, for cool dips in the lake. These exotic looking creatures covered my sister’s rose bushes. I appreciate those lazy summer days with the sun as my watch. A time when my accomplishments were measured in thoughts.

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“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings” Saadi

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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not” Emerson

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Exploring new themes with angels

This gallery contains 4 photos.

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