Everett Herald story:
Stanwood/Camano News story:
The year was 1989. After an invitation to exhibit my paintings in what was then called the Soviet Union, I flew to Moscow and then to Novosibirsk, Siberia for my first art opening outside of the United States. The venue was the Gallery of Science in the once secret Stalin era town called Akademgorodok, the academic town. I believe I was the second American who was allowed to enter this region.
The exhibit I brought to the Soviet Union was called, "The Last Time They Saw Helen's Kitchen." It had erotic bakeries serving naughty treats, and passenger aircraft crashing into everything the community held dear, including me in my hot tub and Dale Chihuly on the blowpipe creating airport runway inspired glass bowls.
The paintings were a response to a proposed annexation of about half of Stanwood, Washington to serve as the third runway for SeaTac airport, I had painted scenes of the future as Stanwood lost its identity.
I flew back to the United States. The artwork remained for more exhibitions.
One year later, on a return trip to retrieve my artwork, I found that everything in the Soviet Union had changed. The Berlin Wall had fallen, Yeltsin was now in charge, and something like freedom was trying to get a foothold.
I met the director of the art museum in the city of Samara "“ the sixth largest city in Russia. She told me that after the fall of the iron curtain an intrepid group of New York City art dealers arrived in her city, expecting to discover heretofore undiscovered Russian art. What they found in her museum was my work. They were flabbergasted and left in a hurry. Ha ha.
After another month touring on the Trans Siberian Railway, hanging out with artists, and lecturing, I was told that I had to go home empty-handed. The customs agent who, the year before, had witnessed the unpacking of my art crates was nowhere to be found, a victim of regime change.
Without the paperwork, the paintings would never make it through Russian customs agents.
Heartbroken, I flew back to Seattle.
On September 20, 2013 I am traveling back to Siberia hoping to bring my paintings home after 24 years. Filmmakers Jesse Collver and Ken Rowe will join me on the adventure with the intention of making a documentary film of the rescue.
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