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Art Exhibit Open

Carceri - pastel on cardboard
3/30/2006 —

An exhibit of pastels by Inna Gokhman, Russian artist, opened at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, in the atrium at Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Arts Center. The exhibit will be on display from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday through April 20. It is free to the public.

Gokhman's work is being featured at the campus thanks to the efforts of James O'Hara, emeritus faculty member in English at the campus, who is presenting her work.  "Inna is unable to attend," notes O'Hara, "and that's why I am presenting her work. We've talked about arranging a show like this for years, and she's absolutely thrilled that it's happening.

O'Hara met Gokhman and her family back in the early 1980s, when his wife, Ellen, was teaching English as a Second Language to refugees and immigrants from all over the world.  Gokhman and her family lived in York for five years.

Gokhman was born in 1936 in Moscow.  Her schooling started during World War II and when she graduated from high school with honors, she showed enough promise to be accepted as a student at the Moscow Textile Institute.  There she studied drawing, the history of art, and history of costumes.  Her training included classes at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad (now renamed St. Petersburg) and the Museum of Russian Art.  She received a master's degree in applied arts.

Following graduation she worked as a sports uniform designer for leading Russian sports teams.  One of her designs won top prize at a national competition and was selected to be worn as athletes' parade regalia.  Her professional development was interrupted during the Cold War years when as a housewife and mother she faced the harsh realities of everyday life in a totalitarian regime, trading her pastels and artistic sensibility for laundry detergent and long hours spent standing in lines to buy scarce commodities for her family.  In 1974 she and her family immigrated to the United States, following a brief journey through western Europe.  Gokhman and her family have lived in Miami; York, Pennsylvania; and San Francisco, where they now reside.

In her own words, this is how Gokhman recalls her days in York:  "My five years in York were remarkable for many reasons. We lived in Haines Acres, a beautiful manicured place yet surrounded by shady trees, birds waking me up in the morning and squirrels acting up in front of my kitchen window.   Living in York, located in close proximity to Philadelphia, New York, Washington, and Baltimore, I was able, for the first time in my life in the USA, to visit the best museums, and listen to the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, one of the best in the world.  And who can forget the Mount Gretna jazz festivals!   York itself amazed me with its own cultural life: theaters, concerts (I was lucky to hear the late Harry James there), movie theaters, art exhibits.   In York we also found some of our dearest friends.   When I think of my life there, I think of it as one of the best five years of my life, very content, peaceful and enjoyable."

She retired from her position as a physician's receptionist in San Francisco in 1998, and says she met her retirement "with a great deal of anticipation that I would be able to paint.  And that's what I have been doing ever since, trying to reflect in my landscapes the memory of the beautiful Russian countryside, European travel, and the nature around me."  Her work demonstrates a deep sensitivity to the subtle beauties of quiet places and everyday objects, and evokes a wide range of moods and emotions.

For more information about the exhibit, please contact O'Hara at 846-1407.  A sample of Gokhman's artwork can be viewed on the Internet at http://home.satx.rr.com/gokhman/inna/

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