Russian and Sober…

Name day. 1993

Name Day by Oleg Korchagin


 …sounds like a non sequitur doesn’t it?

I hope I’m not one of those people who always talk about the good (and bad) old days.  I am not looking back per se, and I am living a very exciting life at the moment, but I did do some really cool stuff in the past and it all seems germane somehow, to where I am at this moment in time.  So gather ’round dear reader, I’m going to take you back to the art dealing days in Moscow…


Still life with bottle of Kristall. 1998

Still Life with Kristall by Oleg Korchagin


A few years ago Kim and I had a thriving business called Krasnaya (it means “beautiful” and “red” in Russian).  We imported post-glasnost Russian art.  It was the first generation of works, painted by the talented artists the Soviets had selected to paint propaganda, who were finally allowed to paint what they wanted to paint.  The results were a unique mix of military images, forbidden religious iconography, pastoral tongue-in-cheek, historical reference and the pure joy of free will.



Me across the artistic LAPS of : Sergey Agasaryn, Oleg Korchagin, Igor Agava and the poet Daniel Da…


We went to Russia, I learned to speak pidgin-Russian (enough to order water, white wine and to get us past the bouncers at clubs), and we met amazing artists who rank as some of the most interesting people I have ever met.  We’ve all reconnected recently on Facebook, and I spoke with Oleg Korchagin about my favorite topic (and let’s face it, one that is near and dear to the soul of every Russia poet I have ever met…):

Alcohol and Alcoholism in Russia:


Secret Meeting by Oleg Korchagin


As it turns out, Oleg is not going to tell us tales of paper bags and park benches.  He’s kind of a teetotaler.  Oleg asked me to “fix” his bad English, but I just can’t do it.  It does not need fixing.  It is so quintessentially Russian I had to leave it as it.

What do you drink?  Most of them I drink tea,water and coffee with milk. And seldom I allow myself a little white dry vine.

Do you know anyone who does not drink?  Of course I know some people who does not drink. They are ex-alcoholics or they have not good health.

Do you know anyone (besides me) who is an alcoholic?.It’s fanny I do not know anyone who I would consider an alcoholic now. But I knew. Classical alcoholic drinks every day and cannot to stop it.
What method would you use to get sober if you needed to? If I wanted to stop drinking I’d use a hypnotherapy in a clinic.  There is AA in Russia and meetings in Sochi, where I live…
What is the drinking culture in Russia? There are so many persons who drinks every day in Russia. And quality of a cheap alcohol is not good in Russia too. The reasons of mass alcoholism are a inclement climate, the old drinking culture and the social complicated problem in Russia. It’s a pity!
Tell me a drinking story.  It was about 23 years ago in Sochi. We ( 5 persons ) drunk Wodka at one terrace-bar on second floor. Suddenly one of my friends snatched my bag and chucked it on a pavement. I run down from the stairs.I snatched my bag from the pavement and a policeman snatched my bag too. I told him ” OK. Open these bags pocket and take off the poems of Boris Pasternak. Open a first rhyme. And listen to me.” And I told him a first rhyme of B. Pasternak.The policeman released me. (Okay – this may not translate to knee slapping hilarity, but you get the picture, right? Only in Russia would you have to recite obscure poetry to prove a bag is YOUR bag…)
I am 53. I live in Sochi. I am an artist. I try to lead a healthy lifestyle now.
Is it OK?
It is so much more than okay.
Thank you Oleg.
And just so you know, my ex-husband left me ALL THE ARTWORK  when we got divorced (he was a gentleman) but he took all the paintings by YOU.  I miss this one every day:
jacob's girl

Jacob’s Girl

Today I’m not drinking because I’ve got the soul of a Russian poet, and I try to live a healthy life style these days…


How come you’re not drinking?