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Radio Voice of Russia
Culture Room.
Art without borders in

Increasingly, the world around us grows flatter and more open. Globalization is running its course – take a walk in any major city in the world, and you'll see many of the same stores, developed far away, that begin to create a repetitive strip mall not just of the streets we drive down, but of the planes that we fly on. Increasingly through language, travel, commerce and convenience, the world is becoming more accessible, and let's be honest, sometimes more boring. This time we'll be discussing the phenomenon of the migrant artist worker with those who know it best, Frank Williams, an American sculpture artist who has been in Russia since 1992 and Taus Makhacheva, a Moscow born artist who has worked and studied abroad in Great Britain.

Andrew Roth
Published Jun 19, 2012

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Radio Voice of Russia
Home from Home.
All the materials are here.

Frank Williams hails from St. Louis, Missouri. He had a conservative upbringing. His father was a commercial artist and his mother ended her working life as vice president of personnel for a bank. By luck, he was not drafted during the Vietnam War, but the events of those times had a strong impression on him. As he met more people, his horizons broadened and he moved away from the dogmas prevalent in his surroundings. He studied Sculpture at university, which became his life's vocation. Later, in 1992, he moved to Moscow with his girlfriend. He has worked here in art since then and shown all over the country including at the Russian State Museum. You can find details of his next showing on: www.frankwilliams.ru.

Sam Gerrans
Published Apr 29, 2012

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American artist finds inspiration in Russia

American artist and sculptor Frank Williams came to Russia 17 years ago and never left, finding inspiration not only in the local culture, but also in the way of life.

“I got a lot of attention in the 1990s because I was the first American artist to show in all the museums and venues that I showed at. So I was like this art rock star who came into town,” says Frank Williams.

The hero of this week’s Prime Portrait gave RT a tour of his huge studio in Moscow, as well as some shops around it, where he buys his tools and the food he eats.

Russia Today
Published 26 January, 2010

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"...Wilson Park Castle has been a fantasy come true for local children for the past 25 years. But the single year required to make it a reality was no fairy tale."

"Revolving-door work crews, backbreaking labor and 100-degree temperatures contributed to what was "a trying year,..."

Sarah K. Terry, "Artist Frank Williams recalls construction of Wilson Park Castle", Northwest Arkansas Times, September 18, 2005

"The castle in Wilson Park is a place where many children forget about television and video games."

"I felt that to the best of my ability, I would build something durable, but in faux decay," he said. "New, but reflecting antiquity, and hopefully it would be miraculously enhanced by wear, tear and vandalism as it reverted to nature."

Kate Ward, "Designer returns to celebrate 25th anniversary of Wilson Park castle", Northwest Arkansas Times, September 18, 2005

"Up close, much of the detail has worn down or been abused over the years, and the restoration since the mid-1990s did not take me into account. Unfortunate, but I am grateful that the city of Fayetteville's Parks and Recreation Department did finally see clear to seriously invest and preserve what was always a very popular, much used public work and positive addition to the community."

Amy M. Cotham, "Artist, Community Celebrate 'Point 7'", The Morning News, September 19, 2005


IN A WORD (detail)

Presented as virtual exhibit,
January 2005

"Powerful and correct for the times..."

"Without commentary, this is one of the most moving images I have seen. With commentary, I find it difficult to express the many levels of emotion that this touches."

"I was moved to tears by your new work and the accompanying notes. As a parent it is impossible for me not to react with terrible grief when children are involved - as it is for all parents I'm sure. When I first (today) saw the picture of your installation, and before I read your notes, I thought it was about Auschwitz. I've just listened to the ceremonies surrounding the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp."

"It is a memorial with the inclusion of the poem. But more than a memorial to the children of Beslan it memorializes all the innocent victims."

"I am in a weird state of awe which somehow includes sadness, inspiration, and connective ness all at the same time. Your sculpture - the installation, the poem, and the story that accompanies it - are beautiful and telling. Thanks so much for sharing this with me..."

"That is a sad, disturbing and powerful piece."

"I think it's a profound and moving tableau.
As text / explanation / reflection and story ..... plus imagery, it's put together well. It's very good"

"Well, I have to admit that it took me several days to read this as I didn't really want to face it. When I did, I cried. I hope it will have some effect in stopping such tragedies from happening again to more children. I hope it will have a wide audience.
Thanks for confronting this tragedy in such a moving way."

"This is very very moving and a noble tribute. Thank you for sending it to me - and for having the strength to do it."

Excerpts from email responses to the mailing of "In A Word" January, 2005
These are included due to the number of reactions to this new work. There were many more. I have a core mailing list for such announcements which includes museums, curators, galleries, artists, clients, writers, friends and family; the list reaches world wide. Virtual exhibits have become a way to reach many viewers who may not be able to see my work first hand.


The Yegorevsk Historic and Artistic Museum, Yegorevsk, Russia 2004

"His works are not beautiful, and they aren't pleasing to the eye - the most important things for the artist is a dialog with contemporaries. He is not afraid to contemplate different subjects, even those that are taboos for others."

E. Yezhova, "Contemporary World in Contemporary Art", Znamya Truda, Yegorevsk, Russia, February 3, 2004


The American Center, Moscow, Russia 2003

"...in his 56 years of wandering... from Missouri to Texas he has, again, found his creative youth in Moscow.

Namely, here, in Russia his friends and artists appreciate his art for it's true value!"

Rustem Safronov, "Artist in Space and Time", Voice of America News, Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2004


Exit Art Gallery 2001, Cologne, Germany

"Williams' work of the past decade has been inspired by changes in Russia, mirrored by changes in his life. While what he calls "the transition" continues in his new homeland, it's no longer his sole artistic impetus."

Susan Morgan, "From Russia, With Angst" Anchorage Daily News, March 2001 Anchorage, Alaska


ARC Gallery/Educational Foundation 2000, Chicago, Illinois

"Frank Williams’ complex system of forms could be called an Anti-Utopia about the solitude of the human soul in the real world. The reality that surrounds us is frightening: it is a constant struggle between good and evil, all too often ending in the latter’s victory. In Russia, problems of contemporary civilization are uncovered in a particularly striking way and sometimes they take on a grotesquely tragic character. That is why Russia has proved so attractive to the American artist."...

Kara Miskaryan, "Frank Williams", ART Chronika, #5-6 2000 Moscow, Russia


Gallery Manege 2000, Moscow

..."his angels are not strict and noble in appearance. They are as humans, full of feelings. "Avenging Angel", "Crazy Angel expressing displeasure", the names speak for themselves."...

Ekaterina Luneva, "Angels, Amongst Us…" Nezavisimaya Gazette, 29.09.2000 Moscow, Russia


Gallery Manege 2000, Moscow

"As an American artist in Russia, Williams has found himself in the midst of the extremes of human condition. Still, he is proud to call Moscow his home. We, in turn, are proud to exhibit Williams’ work here in this country (U.S.). "The Burden" communicates not only Williams’ personal struggle and the lessons he’s learned, but the struggle and the lessons of a country and its people. It is an honor to help tell the story."...

Julie Decker, Introduction Exhibit Catalogue «The Burden» September, 2000 Anchorage, Alaska


Gallery Manege 2000, Moscow

..."Characteristic of the end of the century, the apocalyptic syndrome makes an original backdrop to the artist’s work. Rendered through Williams’ personal experience it requires a neobaroque grotesqueness…"

"Spirit and flesh are mutually burdened in Frank Williams’ art. Their doom to co-exist determines their mutual deep humanitarian rehabilitation."...

Irina Marsheva, «Frank Williams Catalogue» 1999 Nizhni Novgorod, Russia


Gallery Manege 1999, Moscow

"I don’t recommended being an artist to anyone who is capable of being happy in another profession. Beginning with university, I have been doing this for over thirty years. And as a child I always did various forms of self-expression, as well. Occasionally I still wonder how I could be more beneficial to society and myself in some other work. Of course, in the end I can’t imagine doing anything else!"

V. N. Larionov, "Interview with Frank Williams", "Khudozhestvenny Sovet", #4(12)-1999 Moscow, Russia


Art Manege 1998, Moscow

"We (meaning- We Russians) don’t like when somebody interferes with our lives preventing us from isolation. Do we even let our close friends into our secret inner worlds? Williams’ art intrudes into our small houses breaking all the walls. Williams speaks the language of the world-wide cultural community that is understandable to everybody."

Helen Levina, "To give all yourself is an ability of outstanding people" Nizhegorodskaya Pravda, 31 May, 1997 Nizhni Novgorod, Russia


 


Russian Museum 1996, St. Petersburg

"The themes are both personal and universal."

"They tend to deal with the subjects of weight and burden: the burden of the responsibility that we have for ourselves, the burden of finding a foundation for our lives-finding a truth that you can grab on to."

"The enormity of "The Wheel" symbolizes the sheer magnitude of this task, in apparent impossibility."

Lech Mintowt-Czyz, "Texas Artist Struggles with Humanity’s Dark Glory",
St. Petersburg Press, April 9-15, 1996 St. Petersburg, Russia


Museum of the Revolution 1994, Moscow

"Mr. Williams has shown himself to be an artist of concrete works, capable of mobilizing any stylistic or technological techniques for the sake of solving a concrete problem. This is just what Chastikov does: the subject determines the technique."

"Here (unlike "over there"), everything is open and public which is conductive to dialog, to dramatic reactions, and to conversations about life. I think that this opportunity which is obviously of extreme importance to Frank Williams, is directly linked to what is called "the existential problematic." This is what Mr. Williams senses in Russian material. Exploitation of this opportunity has become his strategy."

Alexander Borovsky, Exhibit Catalogue, Frank Williams, Russian Museum,
April 1996 St. Petersburg, Russia


 


Museum of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg 1994

Q. "You are a physically strong man. Is it necessary for a sculptor?"

A. "In many ways sculpture is just plain physical work, and physical strength comes in handy. Hopefully the strength and energy come across metaphorically in the finished art as well. What work doesn't require ‘some kind’ of strength to accomplish properly?"

Alexander Tkachenko, "Humble Explosion", New Youth, No. 3, 1993 Moscow, Russia


Innova Design Center, Houston, Texas, 1991

"No Moore" is the title of this chair sculpture by Frank Williams and dedicated to the memory of Michael Moore, who died of AIDS.

Pamela Lewis, "Take A Seat to benefit AIDS", The Houston Post, September 1991


The Houston Post, 1989

Houston artist Frank Williams has created a sculpture in honor of the martyred pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

Susan Chadwick, "Houston artist used sculpture to honor Chinese protesters", The Houston Post, July 8, 1989


In Art, March 1987

Once you meet Williams, it's easy to see where some of the figural exaggerations of the pieces come from; he has a larger then life aspect about himself. Stocky and muscular, Williams obviously doesn't lead a sedentary life. His facial expressions change from a concerned furrowing of the brow to a wide smile in midsentence, and one is met with a confrontational directness.

Meredith Jack, "Making Visual Images", In Art, March 1987


Art League of Houston 1983

 

Midtown Art Center 1982, Houston


..."Williams sculpts situations that are molding personal and social sensibilities. His sculpture does not simulate reality but recreates a reality we experience. He sets the table and invites us to dinner."...

Jana Vanderlee, "Houston Figurative Art Exhibition Catalogue", College of the Mainland, November 4 - December 16, 1984 Texas City, Texas


   


Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans 1980

..."For Inventiveness, however, and for awesome technical skill, Williams’ art easily outclasses that normally shown at Bienville, and at most of the other galleries in the Crescent City as well."...

Roger Green, "Macabre Sculptures of Awesome Skill", The Times-Picayune,
24 October 1980 New Orleans, Louisiana

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