Mathes Missive From Moscow #1 – The Cast of Characters

Mathes Missive From Moscow #1 – The Cast of Characters

Greetings, Fellow Traveler,

As you may know, my gallery is exhibiting this year for the first time at the Moscow World Fine Art Fair.  

 Such an endeavor might sound exciting to you.  Quarterbacking for New York Giants probably sounds exciting to a lot of people.  But if you’re the one who is holding the football as a bunch of guys the size of refrigerators charge toward you at full speed, different emotions may well up.  The folks who ride in metal boxes atop rockets into outer space, or play leads in Broadway shows, or make billion dollar bets on oil futures probably feel more scared shitless than excited, too. 

 Being a writer, I like to think that I can get some perspective and process certain unpleasant emotions by putting things down on paper.  It may not actually help, but it gives me the illusion of doing something constructive.  And at least there will be a record of what happened in case I am never seen again.  I am more scared right now than excited mathes1for reasons that will never become fully apparent.  As an art dealer I have to keep everything confidential.  The art business runs on secrecy.  I’ll discuss this in more detail later (but unfortunately I will not be able to tell you the actual details). 

  Perhaps you have noticed by now a certain sentence structure polish and lack of hysteria that doesn’t quite jibe with the juicy terrors I  have been implying are in store.  This is because I am composing this ahead of time in New York and plan to send it before we leave on the afternoon of Monday, May 19th, 2008.  We will arrive in Moscow at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday (Moscow is 8 hours ahead of the Eastern U.S.)  The Special Invitational Charity Preview to the opening night Gala Opening Night takes place on Monday, May 26 (we are invited, but we would have to buy a table for 10,000 Euros if we wanted to come to the sit down dinner with Mme Medvedev), so we have a week to explore Moscow and set up our booth before the oligarchs descend upon us with their billions.  The fair closes on Monday, June 2nd. 

 Who exactly is the “we” to which I am referring?  Allow me to introduce the cast of characters.  There are three of us, not including a special cameo guest appearance, which will be revealed in Moscow.  Me, you know.  At least you thought you did until you wade a bit deeper into these narratives and discover the horrifying extent of my neuroses (you may also not be aware that I was once a member of the National Rifle Association). 

JKahan Moscow 1 The true heroine of this adventure is our fearless gallerist, Jane.  

 Every business must have an engine, and Jane is ours (it was her inspiration to go to Moscow).  She’s an explosion of creativity, exuberance, experience, daring, shrewdness, knowledge, vision and a perhaps just the teeniest bit of lunacy.  The problem with explosions is that they tend to blow things up, which is where I come in.  An explosion by itself isn’t necessarily the best thing to have around, but if you figure out how to put an internal combustion engine around it, you can drive to Schenectady.  I try to figure out how we can channel some of Jane’s creatively exploding limitless energy.  I must have succeeded a little bit since 1) the East Coast is not a smoldering ruin, and 2) we are about to invade Russia — a formidable exercise in logistics (but one that didn’t work out so well for either Napoleon or Hitler).  And you wonder why I’m a little nervous?

 In recent years Jane has found her true calling as a photographer of small living creatures.  These are mostly dogs, but Jane has also stopped traffic to digitally capture cats, horses, donkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, wolves and assorted others (even some humans).  Hopefully, she will be bringing her camera to Russia.

 But, how — you may ask — do we propose to sell artwork in a country where we don’t even speak the language?  And who will protect us if we get into trouble?  This leads us to the third member of our little team: Julia.  

The lighting was a little low here in the Turkish restaurant where she was performing her belly dancing act that night, but you may still be able to tell that Julia is in very good physical shape.  Besides being an expert in all manner of gypsy exotic dancing (don’t get any wrong ideas, those are knives in her hands), Juliawithknives Moscow1Julia is also a personal trainer.  Jane signed up with her at the JCC and Julia was such a good personal trainer that it nearly killed her.  Julia is also a world-class simultaneous translator (she was born in Ryazan, Russia and went to University in Moscow, majoring in English which she now speaks fluently).  If her passion weren’t dance, she would probably be a supreme court justice or a nuclear physicist — she’s that smart (though she eats like a bird).  Julia will be coming to Moscow as our assistant, translator and tour guide.  (She actually looks much less menacing without her mask and knives, which presumably she will not attempt to bring in her carry-on bag; you will have to wait for the next Missive to see her unmasked.)

 So, thank you very much for listening, and this ends our introduction.  If you want to find out more about the art fair the way the organizers wish for it to be perceived, go to  A more interesting story (and one with a happy ending, I hope) will take place here.  Next stop – Russia.




 Copyright © by Charles Mathes