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Port Moody painter will show "iconic" work in an American museum this summer

Port Moody artist Elvira Kravenkova will have a new oil painting up at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, for a summer exhibit on "iconic" themes.

What does “iconic” mean?

For Port Moody painter Elvira Kravenkova, she used the word to convey a trip of a lifetime to a big city — a journey that would be talked about for years later.

The idea came to her after she was invited to submit a painting for the Iconic show, which opens July 1 at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, in Wisconsin, and runs throughout the summer.

Curated by Steven Alan Bennett and Elaine Melotti Schmidt, the exhibit features dozens of pieces — in various media — that interpret the theme of “iconic.”

Kravenkova, who is the only Canadian artist represented in the display, will have an oil on canvas painting titled Urban Adventures that depicts a model (her husband Gennady Kravenkov) as three separate people on an iconic vacation.

But each person has a different reaction to the view. “I wanted to show their facial expressions,” she told the Tri-City News. “I thank my husband for helping me with this.”

Still, what they’re looking at is open to interpretation: the central character could be looking for a restaurant or museum while the man on the left could be reading a restaurant sign, for example. As for the man on the right, he has a neutral face — perhaps he’s studying a new scene or wanting to learn more about a landmark, she said.

With no detail in the background to indicate where they’re located, “it doesn’t tell the whole story so you have to just imagine,” Kravenkova said. “People need to just use their own ideas to understand the painting.”

lmagining has been ever-present for Kravenkova and other artists and performers during the pandemic, as venues have been shut or limited over the past year.

Previously, Kravenkov taught at a private art school; however, that business also closed, she said, and now she’s looking for work because, as a teacher of painting and drawing, “it never lets you forget the basics. I love being a teacher.”

A member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and other artists’ groups, the Russian native had four pieces in a virtual show last year at the Women’s Art Museum of Canada, in Edmonton. 

Right now, though, it’s not clear when Canadian exhibits will return for large in-person gatherings. 

“Everything is a bit unpredictable now,” said Kravenkova, who has displayed at PoMoArts and the Vancouver Public Library in the past. “Everything is different, especially for artists.”