Not A Sad Tale: Animatronic Sculptures, Animations and Performance by Yuliya Lanina

San Antonio, Texas; June 11, 2016—Polyglot Gallery is happy to announce a new collaboration

with San Antonio art space, Haus Collective, and invites the public for an

exhibition of recent work by Polyglot artist Yuliya Lanina. In furthering Haus Collective’s

mission to platform artistic and creative projects while strengthening the local arts community,

the show with Polyglot will highlight the new itinerant space and project by gallery director

Melanie Harris de Maycotte sharing the fresh, artistic perspective from Lanina who has never

exhibited in San Antonio, Texas.

Yuliya Lanina is a Russian-born American multimedia artist who received her MFA in animation

at Hunter College in New York City and has fused the lines between sculpture, painting and

animation for years with her mechanical sculptures, which, similar to her animations, rely on

music and moving images to tell her stories, always absent of dialogue. Her large animated

sculptures and animations have been shown worldwide. When the artist noticed that her

mechanical sculptures rarely ended up in the hands of private collectors because of their size,

Lanina was moved to create “music box” sizes as personal animated sculptures. The works on

view are a culmination of this effort, that involve herself, original musical scores by her husband

who is the accomplished composer and University of Texas musical composition professor,

Yevgeniy Sharlat, and fabrication by mechanical engineer Theodore Johnson.

Lanina’s paintings, animations and animatronic sculptures portray alternate realities that fuse

fantasy, femininity and humor together. Employing surreal imagery to simultaneously elicit

feelings of uneasiness and empathy, Lanina paints and collages bizarre characters that come to

life through mechanization, animation and music. Laninaʼs characters, mostly female in gender,

are made of parts that are not supposed to go together. They act out absurd situations in a

somewhat blasé, carefree and whimsical manner. These characters are the artist’s own

projections of nonsensical events and their consequences. Their malformed features and parts

illustrate internalized trauma and torment while still engaging in the life-affirming celebration of

feminine power and its connection to the mysterious, the beautiful and the sensual. Lanina

draws from many sources to create these characters. Though she often taps into Greek

mythology with the half-human and half-animal demigods, she also relies on her personal roots

with Russian fairy tales, which are filled with fantastic beings deeply founded in paganism,

mysticism and symbolism. Her creatures and their stories move freely between logical and

illogical, realistic and illusory, predictable and surprising, representing life that can only be lived

but perhaps never fully understood.

Please join us at Haus Collective to experience these wonderful new inventions alongside the

artists on Saturday, June 11 from 6:00 to 8:30 PM. If you cannot make opening night, the show

will be open by appointment through September 2, 2016.

Talk is cheap… so chat us up!

We are once again taking a break at the gallery, this time in order to welcome a new baby in November.  Whereas we will not be showing new work by our artists, we do have a great collection of artwork by Alejandro Rivera, Peter Leventhal, Sarah Davis, Millree Hughes, William Powhida, Michelangelo Bastiani, Adrian Guerrero, Rodrigo Lara, Nick Schnitzer, Yuliya Lanina, Claude Mathey and a few others.  We are always happy to have you over for a cup of coffee (freshly pressed in our Pavoni) and discuss art, farming, film, and generally contemplate any manifestations of topics ranging from bellybuttons to Austin traffic patterns.

The goal of this home gallery has always been more about keeping things real, and well life is about to get a little more real over here, so come on over! (ok. we would appreciate a call first!)



Happy 2014!

Polyglot Gallery has been on a 6 month hiatus as gallery owner, Melanie, has been working on a public art’s project in Houston for the Hermann Park Centennial Celebrations alongside Weingarten Art Group.  Exhibitions will resume as of May 2014.  Meanwhile, please schedule an appointment to view our permanent collection of great national and international artist –

WEST Austin Studio Tour Pop-Up Featuring Brooke Mackenzie, Yuliya Lanina, Sarah Davis & Nick Schnitzer

Polyglot Gallery is happy to announce that it will be opening up its by appointment only space as a pop-up gallery for the WEST Austin studio tour which takes place Saturday and Sunday April 27 -28 and May 4-5, where they will be showcasing artwork by Austin-based artists Brooke Mackenzie, Yuliya Lanina and Nick Schnitzer and New York City artist, Sarah Davis.


Brooke Mackenzie graduated from UT with a BFA and then went on to receive her MFA at the Edinburgh College of Art. Her artwork is characterized by its intricacy and attention to detail that often lends her work the illusion of an airy tapestry. A common theme in her body of work is the passage of time, which she illustrates by imbedding images of clock gears and illustrations of the budding, flowering and wilting of a flower, amongst other subtle images. Drawn with delicate lines and a subtle palette, Mackenzie beckons her spectator to slow down and pay attention to the details which slowly reveal themselves.

Yuliya Lanina is a Russian- born American multimedia artist who paints on canvas and paper, makes animations and animatronic sculptures which portray alternate realities that fuse fantasy, femininity, and humor. On exhibit will be her fantastical paintings and video of her signature grotesque yet beautiful imagery work that simultaneously elicit feelings of uneasiness and empathy.

Sarah Davis is a New York based artist whose work has been featured worldwide on subjects ranging from boisterous celebrity culture to tranquil urban and rural landscapes. On exhibit at Polyglot is a selection of her pastel works on paper from the series “Stars and Cars”. Work from this series has been shown in Switzerland, London, Houston and now Austin and has received rave reviews.

Nick Schnitzer was Polyglot’s first artist to be showcased in January in Austin. Return to see his meditative photo reactive and sometime kinetic wall sculptures and paintings come to life with a new led light box installation.

For a PDF catalog please e-mail

Nick Schnitzer – Closer to the Divine – March 1 – April 25

As an artist who searches for the divine in every aspect of his daily interactions with others, in the natural systems of the Universe and in anything manmade, it is appropriate that the artwork of Nick Schnitzer is a meditation device to help us to connect to that voice that softly whispers but that so few take the time to quiet the mind to hear.  There are subtle and less subtle referrences to native american, hindi, buddhist and even jewish ritualistic practice in his incorporation of geometry and symbolism associated with these various religions as he re-interprets the color palettes associated with the original intent.  The artist’s utilization of photoreactive paints heightens the Contemporary conversation of the work, giving them a dynamic life in different lighting situations.  As the spectrum of L.E.D. colors flicker on and off around the work, the pieces appear to come to life and pulsate and any spectator cannot help but become entranced.



On exhibit for June are some of the favorite works from the past few months.  Come see gouaches by Polly Stark, cut paper by Margarita Fick, photography by Barbara Levine, paper mache sculptures by Edward Swift, ceramic sculptures by Adrian Guerrero, Maureen Gordon, Rodolfo Calva, and Rodrigo Lara, assemblage by Claude Mathey and Zoë Siegel, etching by Luis Carlos Rodriguez Ojeda and a fantastic wall relief by Angelina Perez Ibargüen.

A young man’s commentary about the Bakker photographs

People from all walks were in attendance at Bakker’s opening and where most people rejoiced in the candid expression the photographer captured from his subjects there was at least one very verbal dissident.  I soaked in his youthful perspective and the opportunity to defend the work.   He was a young photography student named Mario Andrade who was afraid these photos were false in their depiction of how devastating the subject’s lives truly were.  The discussion lasted a good while & I promised him that if he wrote something that I would post it to the blog.

Bueno, Mario, cumplo con mi compromiso.  Ojala algún día serán tus fotografías expuestas en la galería y estaremos discutiendo como te ayudamos a resolver estos graves problemas de desigualdad.

Por Mario Andrade
“Increíblemente, hoy cada día, podemos transitar por las calles de cualquier ciudad de México, con una naturalidad que se ha hecho tan común como respirar, sin mirar que nuestra gente, nuestro pueblo, está padeciendo. Está pereciendo. Se ha plasmado en la memoria de nuestra nación la falsa idea de que “en México no existe la pobreza extrema, ni la esclavitud” pero si usted es un ser sensible y observador, se dará a la labor de reír irónicamente a carcajadas al escuchar semejante declaración.
Como en una copia de diferente papel, en México vivimos un holocausto palpable, donde gente muere todos los días y agoniza lentamente en nuestras avenidas; que también son sus avenidas.
Victimas y presas de un sistema que sirve solo para mantener un diario vivir rutinario, los de clase media y media baja, se dedican a gastar su tiempo en trabajar en una empresa que probablemente los despachará cuando exista un recorte de personal, o cuando estén en tiempo de jubilarse; 8 horas diarias de labores lineales como mínimo; es un círculo vicioso que no para de girar. Al tener la necesidad de alimentar y sustentar una familia, las cabezas al frente, se envuelven en gastos para satisfacer dichas necesidades, trabajo duro, y deudas que se liquidan sólo al recibir la próxima paga.
El tiempo libre y de familia se ha limitado a unas cuantas horas de convivencia, y ¿En qué tiempo queda el sensibilizarse por la sociedad? ¿En qué parte puede un extraño ocupar una prioridad en la existencia de un hombre con estas características?
La necesidad de ver por los propios es la figura y todo lo demás puede englobarse en el fondo.
¿Y dónde queda nuestro pueblo que vive al margen de la escasez y la muerte? En las calles. Sin fin de ancianos y niños se ven forzados a buscar el pan de cada día en una sociedad que los ha materializado en un mismo concepto “el limosnero”. ¿Porqué no se recuerda el rostro de un niño, que un día antes también se acercó a nosotros a pedir un centavo? ¿Será porqué es parte del fondo?
Lector. ¿Alguna vez le has preguntado su nombre a alguna de estas personas? Si es así, te felicito, pues has cruzado una barrera invisible pero casi indestructible. Si no, te invito a plantearte el pensamiento de si esas personas son tan ajenas a ti, tan diferentes a ti. Recuerda que tal vez sea más común saber el nombre de alguien que conociste en un bar o en la parada del autobús. Realmente no considero que sea el contexto de la situación, el pretexto que nos niegue un diálogo.
Puede ser que tenga una quimera en la mente en donde tantos se han postrado, sin parecer haber cambiado resultados, pero ¿que hubiera sido de nuestro mundo, si no existieran personas que seguimos recargándonos en la misma quimera?”


written by: Kahren Jones Arbitman

Frequent travelers to and the citizens of Mexico will recognize them all: the wizened crone holding wilting calabaza flowers, the one-legged woman plunking her ukulele, the insistent man hawking rubber maps, the costumed ladies selling beribboned dolls.  These peddlers and panhandlers fill the city’s alcoves, stoops, and walkways, their places staked out by habit, or more likely, by inviolate street rules.  But who are these familiar yet frequently anonymous people who form such an integral part of the culture?   Dirk Bakker, professional photographer and director of photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts, wants to discover if life-sized, color photographs can reveal the personalities of Mexico’s street people.

To help overcome his subjects’ understandable reticence to his proposal, Bakker hires a driver and translator, buys hearty food, and creates a comfortable environment in his studio.  Using natural light, a backdrop of gritty white plaster, and simple floor tiles, he fashions a slightly elevated, non-threatening stage for the self-revealing portraits he hopes to coax from his subjects.  Quietly asking about their lives and families, Bakker waits for each to settle into a pose.  What results are startlingly intimate performances played out in front of the camera: some clown, some stand defiantly, others retreat into a shell.

Then, in what must have been mystifying to his sitters, Bakker lies on the floor and aims his camera directly at their hands.  The choice of focus is quite deliberate; hands are the consistent point of interaction between street people and those who occasionally drop “a little something” into their upturned palms.  By altering the expected focus on faces, Bakker allows his sitters’ hands to lead the storytelling.  And what stories they tell.  Invariably work-worn and often gnarled and arthritic, hands become welcoming, withdrawn, defensive, content.

Another important artistic consideration is Bakker’s lowered vantage point which literally and figuratively elevates his subjects.  In an insightful turnabout, viewers are now confronted by people who loom above them, no longer content to sit with bowed heads awaiting the generosity of strangers.  A similarly important consideration is Bakker’s decision to set aside a telephoto portrait lens that tends to flatten and in many ways flatter the sitter in favor of a “normal” lens that conforms to the angle of human vision.  He is looking for verisimilitude.

While the photographs’ technical virtuosity is undeniable, Bakker does not want digital wizardry or artistic license to overshadow an honest presentation of his sitters.  Fortunately, documentation and artistry can happily coexist in a single photograph. Simultaneous with documenting a life, these images also present a riot of mismatched color, pattern upon pattern, ruffles, fringes, buttons, makeshift belts, and other picturesque details that dazzle the viewer like a well-painted abstraction.  Equally arresting are the piercing expressions of many of the life-sized figures that could easily find prototypes in Diego Velazquez’s haunting, solitary misfits.  Despite the artist’s intent to capture only what his sitters give him, viewers cannot help but mentally embellish the individual stories.  For this writer, one telling detail is an elderly gentleman’s hemmed cuffs that touchingly speak of an attentive caregiver.  It’s nice to know he’s not alone.


Colorful adventures in DF

Call it the 2012 phenomenon but I am changing in ways I never imagined I might change.  Change is the only constant, right?  But in general I thought I would always at least see most changes coming.  These past few days spent in Mexico City found me saying “yes” to things I would normally say “no” to and vice versa.  What could that be all about?  Well, I rather not go there out of fear of how long and convoluted that road might be but I feel good about my choices and that’s good enough for me.

Mexico City is a great place.  Those of you who haven’t been in awhile or are a bit timid to travel to one of the largest cities in the world, just go.  There is always something to see and do and more than likely some everyday something-or-another for a resident of the city will blow your mind.  What I always find a little mind blowing (other than how there aren’t more car accidents with how crazy everyone drives) is how there is at max 2 degrees of separation between the people I meet (even in the most random encounter) with people I already know.  This weekend the introduction to artist Karima Muyaes was one such example.  Karima comes from a long lineage of artists and collectors and patrons and general cultural icons of Mexican history.  Her father is the one who incorporated milagros into his artwork in the 1950s.  He was also one of the first documentarians and later collectors of Mexican dance masks.  I could go on and about how Karima’s family has intersected my family and friends over the years, but yesterday was the first time I met her.

Karima is an artist and a jeweler.  She is primarily a colorist who incorporates the influences from her childhood growing up in a family of archaeologists into very textural paintings that are reminiscent of textiles.  Only having seen her work in photographs I was extremely delighted by the rich texture she uses and by the innate glow that her work emits.   It was only seeing the paintings in person and perhaps placing a face and a soul to the artwork that it began to really resonate in this very personal way with me.  This is so often the case.  I receive countless images via the internet by artists who want to show at the gallery and so often I write them off before spending any time with them.  Karima and her work wrapped me in their arms and made me feel warm.  That is a feeling that I can’t deny.  I gave up trying to decide whether it was the artist or the artwork that spoke to me the most.  All I decided was that I need more time with these paintings and with this fascinating woman and thus I have set a date to show her work in September.  I will use that time time peel back the layers and get familiar with the cultural references she makes.  I will delve into the world of color that so often scares me away (oh how I do love the monochromatic).  Maybe you will find your way into the gallery in September and share your thoughts with me.  & please don’t chastise me for straying from what you might think is my aesthetic.  I couldn’t say “no”.