Russian art has an Old Town nook

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Being one of the only art galleries that specializes in Russian art, and sharing a space with a documentary film company in the newly expanding north end has its advantages for Robert Murray, owner of the Von Brahler Gallery. Murray went to school with Ashley Hawken, the producer at Global Village Communications, and the two collaborate on artist promotional films the artists use for promotions. The artists are interested in doing that kind of thing, Murray said.

One production they completed, called Waterexpressions, exhibits artwork while a narrator reads one of Murrays poems about art. Part of the film follows a woman around the art gallery. Murray and the gallery are multi-faceted. She met her husband at the Battle of the Bulge, shes French, he said.

Currently, the Russian artwork of Yuri Kokoyanin and Nikolai Antyuchin are being shown in the gallery. Both artists were trained specifically in Russian art in one of the better schools in Russia, and Kokoyanin is now living in Alexandria, while Antyuchin resides in Russia.

To the naked eye, there is no specific traits that indicate that it is Russian art but Kokoyanins paintings seem to revolve around a woman, known as the reclining girl, in one painting. She is one dimensional, with shades playing a big role, similar to something painted by Salvador Dali. He elaborates on it, in other paintings, Murray said.

There are also carvings and sculptures the two artists created.

In the beginning
Murray got his start in the mid 1980s in Georgetown before coming to Old Town. He made contacts in the former Soviet Union, and managed to get some art out of the country, giving him a certain level of exclusivity with Russian art. While in Georgetown, Murray attended Georgetown University and ended up majoring in Russian art. If youre a gallery, its good to have some kind of specialty, he said.

In 1991, when the USSR fell, everything turned, said Murray, and Russian art was more prevalent, but continues to have a reputation in the art world.

The studio has single-colored walls, which are used for documentaries when Global Village has something in the works, but are covered by Murray for the art shows. Unlike other art galleries around town, the Von Brahler Gallery has limited hours because Murray deals a lot directly with collectors and other galleries. There isnt much foot traffic, and the detour on Slaters Lane for the new bridge didnt help much. Murray said his business has declined 25 percent since that detour went in. Were managing, he said.

New exhibition
Russian Peasant Folk Dolls, by Olga Bocharova, now on exhibit and for sale at The von Brahler Ltd. Gallery. These are handmade in a tradition that stems from the folk art of Russia of the 12th and 13th century.

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