Some people consider creativity an inherited talent. Others think that creativity comes naturally to some and perhaps not so much to others. However, when it comes to our feature artist for our Spring edition, who just happens to be the great nephew of a famous Russian composer, I suspect it might be a little bit of both.
Born in Poland in 1959, Everist Prokofiev is the son of two musically-inclined parents, who just so happened to have met in University while both were studying music. The fact that his great uncle is the famous Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, well known as the artist behind such famous works as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Peter and the Wolf”, and “The Love for Three Oranges”, would lead you to believe that Everist himself follows along in musically-inspired roots. However, while music was and still is a large part of his life, it is his unique style of painting that makes this particular artist so respected and talented.
Everist and his mother had fled the then communist-ruled Poland in 1966, and settled in Vienna. “I can still remember the day we escaped”, tells Everist. “I remember being on the train, and we had to pretend we were only leaving Poland for a vacation, and that we would be gone for just a short while, but in reality of course we were leaving for good.” This would not be the last time Everist would settle in a foreign country, and by the time he was almost 8 years old, he had been educated in Poland, and then in Austria where he learned to speak German, and then had to attend Grade one once more when they finally landed in Canada. At this point, a young Everist could now speak Polish, German, and English, the type of story that movies are made of!
Everist’s mother had landed in Canada with only six dollars in her pocket and her young son by her side. She was fortunate enough to obtain a job with Ontario Hydro, as they settled into a home in the Polish district of Toronto. Music was very important to her, so she worked hard to be able to afford to send him to piano lessons, something Everist however was not very fond of at all. It was not long before his mother met Everist’s soon-to-be stepfather, who worked as a piano tuner. Now married, Everist’s parents opened a piano store in downtown Toronto called “Art Pianos”, which also housed a music school in the back. Everist was clearly being streamed towards musical artistry, but he had other ideas…
It soon became clear that he wasn’t interested in the piano. With every lesson, came more and more tears. So when his parents decided to remodel the piano store, Everist asked if he could create some artwork for the walls. He had visions for pianos as art, utilizing paint, wooden pallets, and actual piano pieces. His parents agreed, and from there his passion for art had become ignited. It was clear to his parents that he showed tremendous artistic talent, and therefore needed to go to art school. Between attending art school at the AGO and receiving private painting lessons, Everist was beginning to develop personal techniques and grow his abilities beyond just what the lessons and his schooling had provided.
Into his mid-teens, Everist was still being compelled to study and play piano, and while still not happy about it, he nevertheless conceded to his parents’ wishes. At the same time, he had also been receiving art lessons from a portrait artist from Europe. It was a great experience, but the portrait genre was something he was not particularly interested in. As he expanded into other lessons, both in piano and painting, he was introduced to the “palette knife” painting technique, and he had found his niche. While studying this craft, his mother also found him a new piano teacher, a lovely old lady who was an artist – a painter – as well. They would finish his piano homework quickly, and then talk about painting for the rest of the lesson. His mother never knew that the art was taking a front seat to the piano lessons, however Everist was clearly happy with the process. “I learned so much about art from this lady,” states Everist, “and it truly was an amazing experience.”
As Everist matured, he took on new experiences outside of art. He finally convinced his parents to stop the piano lessons, as he now worked part time as a piano mover, and had began to partake in athletic endeavours at school, causing him to wonder if sports could be the path he wanted to follow in life. As is the case with most young adults, his hobbies took a backseat to social events, as he was still trying to discover what he really wanted to be when he “grew up”.
Life circumstances deemed he was not able to attend university, so like many others Everist went to work. He discovered a love for cars which had led him into the automotive industry, painting murals and flames on vans and cars for his friends. While operating a small auto body shop on the side, Everist went to work full time for de Havilland Aircraft, and just like that, adulthood began to emerge. Adult life took over with marriage, kids, and a house, and just like so many of us, Everist now had new responsibilities that put his artwork on the back burner.
After having worked in the automotive field for 20 years, Everist decided it was time to make a career change. He developed an interest in home renovations, and was encouraged to go in to this career full-time. He started his own company, and little did he know at the time, he would re-discover the motivation to get back to his artwork. While working in the renovation field, Everist had been asked by several clients to paint murals as part of the rooms he had been renovating. He began with a nursery mural, and had an incredible amount of fun doing it. Other clients had seen and heard about his murals, and so once again art took hold of him, and he wondered if maybe it was time to change careers once again, and officially move into the realm of “starving artist.”
Deciding to make a brave move, with the full support of his wife and children, Everist took the leap back into the world of art. Based on a suggestion from his daughter who was living in Orangeville, he loaded up his truck one day and walked into a lovely gallery on Broadway called “Framed x Design”. It was here that Everist met his now good friend Tracey, who has been in the business for over 25 years.
The connection with Everist’s artwork was immediate. Tracey loved his work, and it’s easy to see why. “Not only is his artwork stunning, the artist himself is a perfect fit for my gallery”, says Tracey. “Everist is a perfect fit; he’s laid back and easy going, and while his artwork is powerful, the man himself is quite humble”. That meeting was over 3 years ago, and Everist’s artwork has been a permanent fixture in the gallery ever since.
As with most artists, there is always something special about them. Everist has a cool charm about him while remaining elegantly humble. Beyond the fact that he is this wonderful man, his artwork is simply powerful, breathtaking, and well worth a trip to see it for yourself!
Coming up for Spring, Everist has two events that will be exciting to attend, and you can get to meet the artist himself!
March 22-25 Everist’s work, can be seen at the Spring Cottage Life Show at the International Center, in Toronto.
For a local treat, people can attend a solo exhibition of Everist’s artwork taking place at “Framed x Design Gallery”, on Broadway in Orangeville, beginning Saturday April 14 and running through to May 12th. The Opening Night reception will be held on Saturday April 14 , 6 – 9pm where hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and more, will be available to all who would like to attend!
Written by: Kelli M. Maddocks
Photography: Cory Bruyea