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Drawing teacher from Staraya Russa Nikolai Lokotkov spotlighted in the Presidential Library’s new film

16 February 2020

The Presidential Library has released a documentary Drawing Teacher. History of a Magazine about the artist from Staraya Russa Nikolai Lokotkov.

This is a story about a talented artist and a sensitive teacher who published a children's print magazine about art not only in the era of the Internet, but also in the province. The film tells about his “Vvedenskaya Storona” was launched, how it grew into an all-Russian publication and how it stayed afloat for twenty years.

Why did a successful artist settle in the outback while everyone is rapidly fleeing from it? What holds him there?

The film opens with shots depicting Staraya Russa. Now it’s hard to imagine that once this cozy province with shady streets, gardens and wooden houses was one of the largest industrial centers of Russia. A century and a half ago, on the mineral springs, the imperial family built the resort, which is still opened. One of the districts of the city, according to the Introduction to the Church of the Virgin, was called the Vvedenskaya storona. Today, Staraya Russa continues to be a center of cultural attraction for tourists.

Lokotkov’s magazine “Vvedenskaya Storona” is unformatted, “authorial”, according to the publisher himself. It embodied the artist’s idea of ​​a universal art school. Here is painting, architecture, music, poetry, and design. This magazine has become a kind of cultural capital for children and teachers throughout the country. Lokotkov edits it himself, invents contests, creates covers. Nikolai Mikhailovich collected authors to the envy of any metropolitan magazine. The “Vvedenskaya Storona” publishes famous and not famous people. Critics, musicians, poets, historians, artists - they all share a common disinterested desire to share their experiences. The gallery owner Elena Zhirova and the editor of children's publications of the Arka publishing house Elena Streltsova tell that there is no such magazine in either Moscow or St. Petersburg. Few people are able to talk with children about art so excitingly and professionally as Nikolai Mikhailovich does.

Among the famous people who supported the Lokotkov project at one time were Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Daniil Granin.

The drawing teacher and an artist have one working position. His children's studio is in his own studio. Both the studio and the “Vvedenskaya Storona” magazine at one time marked a new stage in the life of Nikolai Mikhailovich. It was necessary to make a difficult choice: to leave school forever becoming a free artist or stay with children? The temptation was great. Already in the late eighties, Lokotkov's works were successfully exhibited and sold in Russia and abroad. But he stayed in Staraya Russa.

Lokotkov himself tells how he made his choice in the film: “On Easter days, late in the evening, when there was already no one in the monastery, John Krestyankin went down the steps from the church to the holy spring, proclaimed “Christ is Risen” three times, we told him amicably answered "Truly He is Risen!" They introduced me as teachers of children, and suddenly he turns to me and says these words: “And you must be like the sun for them, so that they turn their heads, like flowers, after you”. And at that moment I realized that they gave me the answer to the question that tormented me so. And so I am still with my students and am very glad that I resisted the temptation".

It was difficult to publish a print nonprofit magazine without state support in the digital age. For twenty years, the publication rested on the enthusiasm and ingenuity of Nikolai Lokotkov and his team, while remaining at a high professional level. In 2018, the last printed issue of the Vvedenskaya Storona was published, and with it a large stage in the life of the artist ended. A new one began.

Nikolai Lokotkov opened a gallery of contemporary art in his workshop. Thus Staraya Russa again became the first province in Russia, swinging at the capital level. How does an artist do it?

“I can say that I am happy, I am glad of my life, despite a lot of difficulties, problems or sad events that go aside, but there is a feeling of joy in life, a feeling that you are needed. And it gives strength and emotions for work, life. For creativity, for love, for joy and for happiness”.

The film tells about the rare ability of a person to follow his calling despite the trends of the time and the pressure of circumstances.

The film is available on the Presidential Library’s portal in Audiovisual Materials section under the heading Documentaries.