"When Sergey Came to Stay" – Guest Blog by Jan Oldfield
Today, I’m pleased to post a guest blog by Jan Oldfield, a UK-based art enthusiast who fell in love with the work of Artexpo New York exhibitor Sergey Cherep. In this delightful account, Jan tells the story of how she first discovered Sergey’s work, and later, how she came to host the artist in her own home. I thought I’d share Jan’s story with you all, because it’s a beautiful perspective on the intersecting worlds of artists and art lovers.
WHEN SERGEY CAME TO STAY
by Jan Oldfield, February 2010
I first set eyes on the work of Sergey Cherep in December 2001. My husband Paul and I were enjoying an evening out in the nearby town of Warwick, when we spotted a vibrant and captivating oil painting in the window of a local gallery.
Unbeknownst to me, Paul returned to the gallery the following day intending to buy the painting for my birthday, but with a price tag of nearly £2000 ($3127) it was at that time far out of our reach.
The following year I was lucky enough to win a car in a competition, and after selling it we decided to invest some of the money raised in artwork. Returning to the gallery in Warwick to enquire if they might have any other pieces from the artist whose work we had so admired, we were surprised to learn that the piece in question – ‘Sunflowers’ by Sergey Cherep – had been loaned to a local restaurant, where it was still hanging on the wall.
That was how we acquired our first Cherep and from that day forward we were hooked! Deciding to forgo treats and luxuries in order to save up for our next painting, by May 2004 we had sufficient funds but could not find any original artwork for sale in the UK. We contacted Sergey via his website, which led to us commissioning a stunning 48” x 48” piece. Our third painting – which Sergey had donated to raise funds for a New York children’s organization – was bought a couple of years later from an Ebay charity auction.
By the end of 2009 we were ready to invest in Cherep number four and got in touch with Sergey again to see what pieces he had available. He responded by telling us that he was planning his first trip to Europe to visit some of his galleries and look for new ones, and suggested he tie this in with delivering and finishing our painting. It’s not every day that your favorite artist offers to come and paint in your own home, so we jumped at the chance!
So it was that Sergey and Renee Cherep came to stay with us in January for what was to be a fantastic, stimulating and memorable eight days. We did not know what to expect, but we hit it off immediately. Sergey set up a temporary art studio in our bedroom, whilst Paul and I decamped to the spare room. Our very curious four year old son Finlay was given strict instructions not to go into the ‘studio’ for obvious reasons!
It was mesmerizing to watch Sergey in action and to see our painting taking shape, particularly as it was being painted in the location where it would eventually hang.
Although the weather was grey and gloomy and the temperature rather cold whilst Sergey and Renee were here, we were still able to show them many of the beautiful and historical towns and villages in the county of Warwickshire where we live. Sergey was particularly taken with the canals and narrow boats and I’m sure it won’t be too long before these start appearing in some of his artwork!
No trip to rural England would be complete without a visit to a traditional country pub and we are very lucky to have the ‘Fleur de Lys’, an unspoiled 17th century canal-side inn with low beamed ceilings and roaring open fires, in our village. It was here that Sergey and Renee spent several evenings with us, getting acquainted with a selection of our regional ales, eating fish & chips and meeting the ‘locals’!
Gallery visits included ‘The Forest Gallery’ in Guildford, Surrey, ‘Gallery Rouge’ in St Albans, and newly appointed stockist ‘Art & Wine’ in Warwick. Although time was tight, Sergey was also able to indulge his love of soccer when Paul took him to see a Premiership match in nearby Birmingham.
We feel so passionately about Sergey’s work that we were delighted when at the end of the trip he invited us to act as his liaison in the UK and Europe. I am really looking forward to my new role helping establish a select network of independent galleries in which Sergey’s work will be showcased and doing my bit to ensure that his work receives the attention and appreciative audience that it so rightly deserves.