1 in stock

Egg tempera on panel. “Berioshka Series” 1991

SKU: heros Category:

Additional information

Weight 22 lbs
Dimensions 2 × 2 × 72 in


When I first traveled to Russia I brought a handful of t-shirts to give out to people I met. These were shirts that no one over here wanted, new but unpopular. One was sort of dumb. It showed four rows of medals, like they were pinned on a military uniform. Because of the dangerous traffic we negotiated like a Russian demolition derby, I decided to give the dumb shirt with the medals on it to our driver. I was unprepared to have my other Russian friends disappointed with my choice. “Why did you give the hero shirt to the driver?’ they asked. “He’s just a guy we hired.”

“You liked the hero shirt the most?’ I asked.

“Each one of us was hoping you’d give us that shirt,” they said. “That shirt held much honor.”

Every week while I was in the new, free Russia, another statue was toppled by angry mobs. The TV news covered the acts like baseball games.

“Who are your heroes?” I asked. “How do you know which statues to keep and which ones to tear down?’

“We have heroes like the Cossacks, and Yuri Gegarin, the first Russian astronaut,” they told me. “We’re destroying the statues of politicians, Stalinists, and political leaders who imprisoned people without trials, who spied on their own population, and caused an atmosphere of fear to control our lives. Leaders who used our legal system to keep themselves in power, leaders who brought us into bloody wars for no purpose. Leaders who took away our living wage to favor their privileged cronies.”

That will never happen in the United States,” I said. The year was 1990. Ten years later we elected George W. Bush.