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Davis, California

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Featured Artist: Bryce Vinokurov

One of the most popular art instructors at UC Davis, Bryce Vinokurov, is currently exhibiting his work at the Alex Built Gallery at 1114 21st St., Suite B in Sacramento. From March 6 to April 7, students and faculty alike can have the chance to see Vinokurov’s personal work, which is described as “largely abstract” by the artist himself.

Most of the art being shown are oil paintings, and there are a few collages included as well. The exhibit is composed of some of the work that Vinokurov has completed in the last two years.  Before coming to teach at Davis, Vinokurov received his bachelor of arts degree in major fine arts at UC Santa Cruz and his master of fine arts degree with a concentration in oil painting from Boston University. He was the two-time recipient of the Constantin Alajalov Scholarship at Boston University, and he also received the Irwin Scholarship at UC Santa Cruz.

He moved to Davis seven years ago with his wife, Michal Kurlaender, who is an associate professor at the UC Davis School of Education.
Vinokurov was first drawn to painting and teaching during his undergraduate career at UC Santa Cruz.
“I was always interested in painting and then when I was at Santa Cruz, I had some wonderful teachers who got me excited both in painting and in teaching painting,” said Vinokurov. As an undergrad, he got the chance to teach an art class, which he enjoyed. Ever since that first class, he has taught at the Boston University Academy and Worcester State College before eventually settling down at UC Davis.
“After ten years of living in Boston, Massachusetts, my move left me feeling in exile from the urban city life I had become accustomed to,” Vinokurov said in his artist’s statement. Yet, it was this same move which inspired the artworks that are currently being shown.

Vinokurov cited the local Northern California landscape, intertwined with the emerging national fascination with sustainable food industry and culture, as a large driving force behind his paintings. Sustainable food has a large presence at UC Davis, especially since Sodexo manages a student-run farm from which organic crops are harvested and used as ingredients. Several of his paintings display people either in the process of cooking or already eating amid a serene landscape that is parallel to Davis’ own intimate settings.

“I enjoy the idea of these foodies exiled to an idyllic place cooking on grills, fighting over recipes and arguing over who is the best chef,” Vinokurov said. “They hold petty grudges over recipes and fight over truffle pigs. The foodies are nomads with grills banished to a life of locavore eating.”
And there are a lot of arguments over food in his drawings. Vinokurov also attributes Italian influences in his landscapes, as for the last four years, he has been teaching in Italy during the summer. Specifically, it’s the Umbrian and Tuscan landscapes that he mentions which stimulated his creative juices when he was painting the landscapes. The composition of the groups in his paintings was influenced by painters Giotto, Piero della Francesca and Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

Vinokurov has had exhibitions in Massachusetts and California, but for a limited time only, his current exhibition is only a car ride away. So, grab some of your friends and head over to the Alex Built Gallery for a look. Fair warning, you might develop a sudden craving for eloquent arguments about food either during or after viewing the exhibit.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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