by John Rippo at ESPRESSO
A brighter spot in Katya's life was music---Russian folk and the jazz dissident musicians played that circulated clandestinely among friends who bonded over the risks. Some of her American friends still recall examples of sly tunes that could have landed youth in jail for possession then; one called Ya Yu Blu' Boogie Woogie, (I Love Boogie Woogie) was especially frowned on by authority. Among her Moscow circle, rare music and art was a badge of honor that separated Intel'yigent from everybody else. This was reinforced in California, where Katya became a regular at Russian pop-up music gatherings in parks, hosted by fellow emigres who brought over famous Soviet-era musicians to perform live, in open air, at campgrounds over weekends. Campers brought families, food, vodka and discussion, and melody filled the nights. Music bonded the audience, then. Katya later brought the same outlook to San Diego' s music scene.
In the past decade, Katya discovered San Diego's jazz scene and rapidly gained a following as a respected artist that caught the essence of San Diego's music greats on their home turf; the stage. Producing perhaps hundreds of drawings of the likes of Gilbert Castellanos, Milan Zlatkovich, Rob Thorsen, Bob Boss, Jamie Shadowlight and many others in real time, she created not only dynamic and livid art, but a unique historical record of San Diego's contemporary jazz performers that has no known similar artifact. She caught the tempo of the times as well as the subjects; froze the essence of the performers' power in the colorful moments of their creation. Her drawings are as important to the historical record of San Diego as they are to its cultural record. Beyond that, Katya translates music into color; Bob Boss remarked on her colorful take of his performance once, only for Katya to tell him "those are the colors you played".
Like her earlier years in Russia, Katya used her talents to add beauty to the world around her, and create a network of those who cultivate aesthetics as self and mutual respect. The result is a kind of homage to the human spirit, adding some vital brilliance to what otherwise may be a world reeking of drab conformity.
And now, Katya's works are going up for sale.
Katya Mezhova is fighting a battle against aggressive cancer. Cancer is an expensive disease; Katya is parting with the work of a decade to buy time for a future. As this is written, she's framing various works while lying in her hospital bed and getting them ready for an appreciative public. That public will have a chance to own the bits of a unique historical record of San Diego's jazz greats at a fundraiser on May 30, at il Sogno Italiano.