Celebrating Bukharian and Kazakh Heritage

At the opening of the Kazakh exhibition. (Photo via Russkaya Reklama)

The Russian American Foundation held its 16th annual “Our Heritage” Festival in June, with numerous cultural events around the city. Coverage of two of these events in Russkaya Reklama follow.

On June 24 the “Longevity” Center (Rego Park Senior’s Club), hosted a celebration of the Bukharian Jewish community of Queens. A series of events, the largest of which was a concert, took place from 2 pm to 6 pm. The event was coordinated within the framework of the 16th annual Our Heritage festival, organized under the supervision of Russian American Foundation president Marina Kovalyov and the New York Post. The People’s Artist of the USSR Malika Kalantarova, together with a group of dancing and singing children, played a significant role in the concert. Moreover, the young participants received the most genuine admiration from the crowded hall of over 350 people.

The singer and musician of popular and classical-oriental musical genres, Albert Matatov, honored steward of Tajik culture Tamara Kataeva, and popular singers Rosa and Avner Malaev took turns entertaining the audience, along with the aid of radio host Boris Avezov. The highlight of the program was the participation of guests from afar – an ensemble of Russian folk dance, music and song called Barynya. All those who came to the festival received memorable souvenirs.

The 16th annual Our Heritage festival presented an exhibition of paintings by Kazakh artists of the 20th century called “At the Intersection of Asia and Europe,” which was based on the collection of the A. Kasteyev State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Thirty paintings from a 3,000-piece national art fund of the museum were presented to the residents of the “Capital of the World” for the first time ever. Why is Kazakhstan included as part of Our Heritage in America? The ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States, Mr. Erzhan Kazykhanov, answered this question at the unveiling of the exhibition at the National Club of Arts of New York: “When President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Donald Trump met in the White House in January 2018, the two leaders issued a joint statement on improving the strategic partnership of our countries in the 21st century that will contribute to the strengthening of Kazakh-American relations in a wide range of areas of cooperation, including the strengthening of cultural ties between countries and relations between peoples.”

The exhibition presented to the American audience a picturesque display of the most significant artists of the country, created in the period of the 1930s–1970s. By that time, the wave of the Russian avant-garde in Russia itself had almost ceased its existence under the imposed influence of the socialist realism. The art of Kazakhstan, which is geographically located at the very heart of the Eurasian region, was isolated from the advance of Western European art by socialist realism. Yet socialist realism was foreign to the national mentality of Kazakh artists; traditionally, the main subject of art to Kazakh artists was the stunning view of the Tien Shan mountains, the freedom of the steppes, and the history and way of life of the nomadic Kazakhs. At the same time, Russian, Ukrainian and other artists who in one way or another came into contact with the culture of the Kazakh people and magnificent nature of the land, often stayed in the country for a long time, sometimes even for good, introducing elements of European tradition and the Russian school of painting, not yet sacrificed to the beast of the revolution.

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