Monday, March 20, 2017


I love getting fan mail.

I receive a surprising amount of fan mail, but I'm unlikely to get a swelled head as a result, because it's almost never about me.  I often remark on what a bad idea it would be for two artists to marry: the dishes would never get done, and what house could possibly be big enough for two egos in constant collision?

A big reason why Ivaan's and my marriage was so happy and successful was because only one of us was an artist.  Of course, there are plenty of other reasons, such as that I like creating peace, harmony and order, and I don't like putting unrealistic expectations - such as peace, harmony and order - on other people. (This might explain why Ivaan showed up at our wedding ceremony in a leather jacket and a silk scarf, but I digress.)  I'm not an artist and I've never wanted to be. If you asked Ivaan what role if any I played in his artistic life, he'd reply, "She's really, really good at sweeping."  And he'd have been right. It's one of my skills.

But back to the fan mail. I get letters from people telling me how they acquired a piece of jewellery by Ivaan, how they treasure it above everything else, asking questions about it, sometimes asking for an appraisal, sometimes asking how much I'll offer for it, sometimes asking if they can get a duplicate. I get letters from people who want the exact same piece of jewellery they have admired on someone else.  I get letters from people, distraught because they've lost a piece of Ivaan jewellery that they treasure, or else they've had a break-in or been robbed. But pretty much everyone who contacts me is awash in admiration for Ivaan.  If heads could swell vicariously, I'd have had to install double doors at Atelier Ivaan, to fit my enlarged skull.

Then there are people who contact me for an entirely different reason, and we coincidentally find a connection to Ivaan.  In fact, one of these just happened last week.  I was engaged in a discussion online with a man in Calgary about a particular Group of Seven piece of art that has had a long and intense meaning for our family.  We concluded our very interesting conversation. A couple of days later, he contacted me again.

Incredibly, he had come across Ivaan's name in another context: his love of late 1960s music, including the music of Jimi Hendrix.  And of course Ivaan had photographed Jimi Hendrix in December 1969.   So Steve (because that's his name) continued his internet search, found my blog, found our website and felt strongly connected to Ivaan's metal art.  This is where he realized that Ivaan was of Ukrainian origin.  Although Steve is not Ukrainian, he had in fact lived in Ukraine for a year, met and married his wife there (Svetlana is Ukrainian) and now they live in Calgary, where he is a geologist.  In fact, Steve had grown up in Grimsby, Ontario and often travelled with his Dad through the area of Ontario where this Group of Seven work of art was painted.  The memory of those travels and that countryside resonated deeply with him.

So now we're at Six Degrees of Separation, because we've got the Group of Seven, Jimi Hendrix,  Ukraine, and our love of Ivaan's metal art in common. Best of all, Steve travels to Toronto for work from time to time, and we have plans for him to come by Atelier Ivaan next time he's in town.  It will be like meeting an old friend, and not at all like meeting a stranger, because I asked Steve to send me a photograph of him and his wife.  And here they are.  It's a great photo.  Just slightly vertiginous.  Ivaan would have loved it.
STEVE AND SVETA © 2016 Steve Harding

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