Mission San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano, CA




Mission Welcomes Artist Nicolay Paskevich; Launches Art for Preservation Gallery


Nicolay Paskevich

Mission San Juan Capistrano will welcome an exhibition of watercolor art by Nicolay Paskevich, January 15-February 20, 2000 in the Barracks Gallery. Paskevich frequently paints objects that are in motion-horseback riders, pianists, jazz musicians, orchestra conductors and ballet dancers.

Paskevich, 92, was born in Riga, Latvia in 1907. At age 10, his father died and he went to work as a shepherd to help support the family. At this time, he developed a love for drawing. Since there was a shortage of paper, he drew on birch bark. Trees were his favorite subject; he especially loved to draw pine roots that jutted out of the ground. He studied in a variety of art schools in the newly formed Soviet Union, but was required to paint in the prevailing styles of the day or risk imprisonment in a concentration camp. Privately, however, he studied realism, which helped him develop his own unique style. In 1933, he met his wife, Galina Alfonsovna Dokalskaya, also an artist. He achieved success and fame in his work in the Soviet Union, eventually earning the nation's highest award for artists, the Red Banner Badge (an unheard of honor for a non-Communist). Paskevich was even welcomed to the Kremlin to dine with Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

When war broke out with Germany in 1941, Paskevich and his wife were forced to flee; first from the Germans, and later the advancing Russians (who might accuse him of collaborating with the Germans). During this time, Paskevich traded his art for food and medicine.

After the war, Paskevich and his family were sent to an American camp in Germany for displaced persons. In 1949, despite speaking no English, they immigrated to the United States. Paskevich first worked as a graphic designer in New York, and later returned to painting. In 1982, he and his wife re-located to Southern California.

Paskevich is pleased to have the opportunity to come to the United States, explaining, "What I enjoy is living here. Once you've been an artist in Russia, you appreciate the justice and freedom that you have here in America."


Art for Preservation Gallery

Mission San Juan Capistrano has launched a new Art for Preservation Gallery, featuring the work of Nicolay Paskevich. The Gallery features 33 of Paskevich's finest works. Individuals can make of donation of $248 for Mission preservation and receive a free lithographic print ($99 additional for framing). The donation is tax-deductible. Information: (800) 260-2228.

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