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A Fresh Coat of Paint


A Fresh Coat of Paint Public art, such as this Da Vinci drawing come to life in central Milan, could really change the face of Kyiv. (Photo by Paul Miazga)

All over the city lately buildings are getting a new coat of paint. Some, like the 8-storey Khrushchevka next to my building, got an insulating covering which, I assume, will be followed by some sort of more pleasant looking siding. It’s a makeover in time for the Euro 2012 oversight team from Switzerland who are worried, and rightly so, for thinking that Ukraine wasn’t serious about its preparations for the massive football fan fest due here in 4 years.

Almost everywhere I look these days I’m seeing signs of renewal, radiating out from the downtown to Lipky, Pechersk and a few other areas. It’s rather remarkable, really, given that the city is used to decay; of trees taking root in the tops of once-proud old buildings; of weeds, garbage and dust gathering in those no-man’s lands of public space over which no one seems to have the desire or pride to clean them up.

The city might actually look nicer, brighter this winter than in past years as a result. I welcome the change.

Public works of art missing

One thing Kyiv City Council could do to really move in a new direction would be to start competitions to have local or foreign artists decorate public areas of the city in surprising ways and draw attention to the whimsy and yet creativity of the art world rather than allowing only for all these rather tired, blasé pieces reminiscent of old Soviet “art” to menace the eyes in virtually every major gathering place.

While I recognize the need for Kyiv to recognize its long links to the past as the mother city of all Slavic peoples, myopic city leaders seem to have forgotten that this city also has a future that has embraced the world at large, meaning freedom of expression, of association, of many things that were banned or all but removed from public life in the past. A great signal in breaking from that past would be to show off how the city is moving forward and how its young people see the city.

London, Milan, Paris, New York and many other great cities of the world endeavour to oftentimes use public space to celebrate humanity in artistic ways rather than in necessarily overt political ways, but that seems to be the trouble in Kyiv. Hope springs eternal, thankfully.

Fall football: Arsenal, Croatia and more

Sept. 17 will see the Gunners of London’s Arsenal in town to take on Dynamo Kyiv at Dynamo Stadium in a big Champions League match early in the campaign – it remains to be seen if Kyiv have the muscle to outgun the visitors, but they’ve pulled off major surprises before at home. Tickets quickly sold out for this match and scalpers (touts) are making good money off of the tickets they’ve been able to get.

For those unable to attend that match, look forward to some great European qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup. Ukraine are in a pool with favourites such as Croatia and the now vaunted England under Italian coach Fabio Capello. Croatia are first up in Kyiv, with the Croats and young coach Slaven Bilic coming to town Saturday, Oct. 11. Not sure where that one’s going to be given the ongoing renovations to Olympic Stadium, but we’ll keep you posted.



 
 


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