‘All connected’: Local art gallery raises over $16,000 for Ukrainian artist, features artwork for the whole family to see

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A local art gallery is having an international impact as it connects people to the crisis in Ukraine and raises money for an artist living through the war.

Pieces straight from Ukraine are on display at the Art Spirit Gallery on Sherman Avenue in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The gallery came upon the pieces last year and planned to feature the work. When the war broke out, moved the showing to earlier in the year to support the people of Ukraine. Seven paintings are on display by Yaroslev Leonets. They were painted years before the war but have a profound impact on the community today.

Joanne Braun came to the show’s opening weekend on Sunday. She’s never met the artist but is deeply moved by what he’s living through and wants to support him.

“It was very touching, and I shed tears,” Braun said. “I wanted to come and see it.”

Leonets is in hiding in Kyiv. The owner of the art gallery, Blair Williams, last heard from him in an email on Feb. 28. He described living through an unimaginable war in his homeland.

“We were incredibly moved by an email that he sent us,” Williams said.

She was so moved that she framed the email and has it up on the wall in the gallery for people to read. Through the artwork and written pieces, it’s connecting people to the war in Ukraine.

“I just think we’re all connected in the universe, and what’s happening to them is terrible,” Braun said after reading about what Leonets is going through.

Williams hopes these connections grow as people come by and see the artwork for themselves.

“It develops this awesome way to have a connection to someone who’s living through this horrific time in our world’s history,” she said.

The gallery wanted to do more than just showcase the masterpieces. Williams took her support to the next level.

“We have decided as a gallery that we are not keeping any of the commission on this work. 100% of the sales are going directly to the artist,” Williams shared with excitement.

In the opening weekend for the gallery, almost every piece was purchased by people in the Inland Northwest. That means over $16,000 will go straight to the artist. They aren’t done raising money yet. The gallery plans to take the paintings and make postcards of the portraits. Those will also go up for sale with the funds directly benefiting Leonets.

This gallery is open for anyone to see, and the Ukrainian pieces will be on display through March 26. You can learn more about the Art Spirit Gallery HERE.

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