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At Benefit v.15, Win Back the City with our annual silent art auction and fundraiser, where silent auction items will open up a whole new array of cultural and dining experiences. This week, we’re featuring artists who gather inspiration from looming brick buildings, from twisted alleyways, from the city dwellers who give Philadelphia life to the cobblestoned streets that give it history.

Ekaterina Ermilkina patterns Philadelphia streets with meticulous love, transforming the classical training she received in Russia into a modern pointillism. Her pieces pop with color and motion, casting a candied haze across the cityscape. Read more about her influences and experience, as well as the piece she’ll have up for auction, in an exclusive interview below.

Could you tell me a bit about your arts background?

I started painting at a very young age, and in fact began my art education at the age of seven when I enrolled in the School of Art for kids of F. Vasiliev. I graduated from that program at the age of 12.

I received my M.F.A. from the State Art and Industry Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1998. I spent six years working on my degree and it was a wonderful experience, giving me a solid grounding in the classical art techniques that have formed the foundation of my work ever since. It was also very inspiring to live in that city – St. Petersburg is just magnificent, with its canals and rivers, its majestic palaces and mansions; and so rich in history and culture. It was there that I first began to paint cityscapes.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects?

My next solo show is at Bluestone Fine Art Gallery in Old City, Philadelphia, from October to November 2015. Currently, some of my paintings are in the group exhibition there. My work is also part of an ongoing group exhibition at the Artspace Warehouse gallery in Los Angeles, and has been since January 2014.

How long have you been an artist with Bluestone Fine Art Gallery?

I was very fortunate to meet Pam Regan, the owner of Bluestone, in August 2013. I am now in my second year of creating artworks for the gallery. Pam is a dynamic and knowledgeable gallery owner, who has been a great proponent of my work. Last year, she participated in Miami Art Week, showcasing my work at Spectrum Miami. She is also one of 150 gallery owners worldwide who represent their artists’ work in the Fine Art store at Amazon.com.

If you had to give advice to a young artist seeking gallery representation, what would it be?

It can be a daunting prospect to find the right gallery, especially for young artists. I do believe, however, if you focus on the work and on finding your own unique expression as an artist, the gallery will ultimately find you. Social media platforms are a great tool for getting your work into the public eye, and for capturing the attention of gallery owners who are always in search of new talent.

You grew up in Russia, where your experience painting began. How has becoming a part of the Philadelphia arts scene helped your career as an artist evolve?

Becoming an artist with Bluestone Fine Art Gallery was my introduction to the Philadelphia art community, and it has been a warm welcome. The arts scene here is remarkable, and very approachable for someone new to the area. There are the First Fridays in Old City and so many other events—like your fundraiser!—that bring opportunities for art work to be seen by all.

My training in Russia was very classical, but over time my work has evolved to become more abstract, and the response to this modern, pointillism style has been a great surprise. I’ve explored this style in my architectural urban series, and the Philadelphia area has provided some of the inspiration for this series.

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Can you tell me a little about the piece you are donating for the Benefit?

The piece I am donating, “Falling in Love,” is a perfect example of how this city has influenced my artistic style of late. Of course, it depicts the famous urban space in Philadelphia with Robert Indiana’s famous sculpture, but the abstraction is there as well. I hope it expresses the feeling of being in love, a sensation that we most often associate with a person, but can be inspired by so many things…not least of which, a city.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s Benefit?

Last year was the first time I participated, and it was an amazing feeling to see the interest my donation generated. I was so pleased it ultimately found a new home in Philadelphia while raising money for InLiquid. I look forward to experiencing that again, as well as meeting collectors and other artists. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to introduce my work to a wider audience, and also to see such a rich variety of what others are doing in the art community. It’s a great event for all who love art and want to see it prosper in the Philly area.

Do you think it’s important for the general public to support the arts and organizations like InLiquid, and if so why?

Absolutely! Your organization plays such an essential role in keeping interest in the arts alive in our area, providing services to artists and to the art community at large, and getting the word out about events and opportunities for collaboration and education. This is vital, and simply would not happen without an organization like InLiquid to do it.

Bid on Ekaterina Ermilkina’s work in advance on the auction site, or join us at Benefit v.15 on Saturday, February 7. Click here to purchase tickets at the advance price. Or join us for Young Professionals Night on Friday, February 6.

Lisa Graf

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