On Saturday, May 13, 2017, the Congress of Russian Americans held a children’s art competition on ‘World of Russian Folk Tales”. This competition was conceived by the Regional Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots of the Americas last year in Costa Rica, at the annual regional conference. Chair of the Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots of the US (KSORS), Natalie Sabelnik (President of CRA) agreed, along with the regional council representative from US & KSORS Vice-President, Olga Tarasova (long-time CRA member & Editor of numerous newspapers & magazines) that the United States would organize a national competition from winning artwork from various cities/states of the US. Among the various states that participated included New York, Washington DC, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and California. CRA orchestrated the art competition in the SF Bay Area, with 6 local schools participating. In total 147 children from Russian schools and Art Schools, from San Francisco, Fremont, San Jose participated in the competition, which was first held in their own school, from which the winning artwork was submitted for the art competition in 4 different categories (ages 4-6 yrs., 7-9 yrs., 10-13 yrs., 14-16 yrs.). Sacramento schools held their own competition, as well.
All artwork was hung in the Banquet Room of the Russian Center of San Francisco, (who were one of the sponsors, by providing the space for the exhibit and competition), by category with the name of each participant, age, title of the artwork and school that they represented. Five judges, local artists (Olga Parr, Vladimir Krassovsky, Warren Cane, Olga Sokoloff & Maria Lobanovsky) with different styles of genre and media, were invited to judge the artwork, according to various criteria, including composition, technical skills, use of color, originality, etc. It was not an easy task to find and identify the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners in each category, as they spent over 2 hours reviewing the artwork and meeting together to judge each piece. As they diligently and dutifully reviewed each piece of artwork, insuring to take into account those from art studios with art training and those from Russian schools would be considered in their final decision, the guests, teachers, students waited patiently for the results, partaking in the reception, prepared and arranged by CRA.
All waited patiently for the decision of the judges. When the decision was made and the judges hung the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, Natalie Sabelnik, CRA President, announced the winners in each category and thanked each judge, and each school personally for their participation. She emphasized how important it is for children to participate in such events, and for them to understand the importance of participation outweighs the need to win. As she always taught her children, the only losers in a competition are those that did not participate. It is not important to win or lose, it is important to participate, and this, above all, teaches them many life skills, including an opportunity to learn about their Russian language and culture. She also thanked the Russian Consulate for always supporting CRA, and these types of events. Two consulate members, Deputy Consul, Andrey Varlamov and Consul, Maksim Goncharoff, attended the exhibit and announcement of the art competition. Russian Center was also thanked for providing the space for the exhibit and competition, as well as Sasha and Nick Sabelnik, who helped her set up for the exhibit and the reception, and Victoria Sabelnik for her graphic design and compilation of the program brochure, which listed the schools, the program and the bios of each of the art judges.
The winners of the competition received ribbons, a certificate for category & placement, as well as a small gift. All, nearly 150 participants received a certificate of participation. A few children that attended the exhibit were delighted that even though they didn’t win, they had their artwork on display. Some even took photographs along their exhibited artwork. And, of course, the parents thanked CRA for coordinating the art competition, so that their children could participate. One parent even said, that while her child’s artwork was not on display, the fact that he participated was an exciting time for him.