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    All Love for Ukraine with Artist Misha Vladimirskiy

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    We are all feeling the hurt right now for Ukraine. It may be a world away, but for many here in the Bay Area who have family ties there, it feels most close to home.

    One man’s (Putin’s) woefully poor decision to invade an innocent and peaceful neighbor has us all outraged and wanting to come together to help.

    My friend Misha Vladimirskiy, a San Francisco-based artist and photographer, was born in Tiraspol, Moldova, and witnessed the fall of the USSR. He moved to America as a young boy soon after in 1992.

    As a photographer he has snapped a who’s who of A listers: Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Kathy Griffin, and so many more.

    Misha—dressed head to toe in yellow and blue, like a Ukraine flag—and I met for dinner recently at Pushkin, a Ukrainian restaurant in Beldon Place, San Francisco. We did not have a reservation, but the owner kindly found us a table and then, within minutes, the place was packed and some eager diners were being turned away. A painting featuring the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine with a heart centered in the middle sits near the welcome counter.

    “That was a gift from a child from a nearby school,” said Pushkin owner Sergey Shukaylo. And at the register there is a QR code for diners to make an immediate donation to a fund for Ukraine refugees.

    Over Ukrainian beers and a bounty of eats, Misha and I talked about the horrors happening now in Ukraine.

    “These are challenging times, sad times,” Misha told me for the San Francisco Bay Times. “I never imagined in 2022 we would be dealing with this, an invasion by Russia of Ukraine. But here we are.”

    About the cuisine at Pushkin: Misha had a bowl of pan fried Pareniki vegetarian (potato and onion) dumplings and some coleslaw. I enjoyed a big bowl of borscht, a Ukrainian version of this hearty soup with beets, beef, cabbage, and onion, and with a dollop of sour cream on top. 

    “You can never have enough sour cream in a good borscht or on the bread,” said Misha, laughing as he watched me spread the sour cream like butter on the bread. I also enjoyed two Polish sausages (beef + pork) with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. The portions were overly generous and most satisfying.

    Liam P. Mayclem: There is a palpable fragility in the air here, a little like that feeling around September 11th. Do you get a sense of that?

    Misha Vladimirskiy: Yes, I do. It’s a beautiful thing. People are here to show support, to eat here, and let the people of Ukraine know we feel their loss. 

    Liam P. Mayclem: Is this déjà vu in a way?

    Misha Vladimirskiy: Yes, it is. I recall waking up after the fall of the Berlin wall with tanks in the streets. I recall feeling a shift. We were lucky enough to leave the Soviet Union. My extended family in Transnistria, which was occupied by the Soviets, did not get the chance to leave. That was tough.

    This is a very icy reminder that human nature is unkind at times.

    Liam P. Mayclem: How have the latest events in Ukraine impacted you personally?

    Misha Vladimirskiy: It’s personal. My family is partly from Odessa, Ukraine. I’ve been there. My great-grandfather fought in the first war there. This tyrant [Putin] has invaded many lands, but this one is close to home because of my connection to the people, to family, and that land. I wake up every morning hoping another city has not fallen or been desecrated by bombs.

    Misha then took me to an art show at Mirus Gallery & Art Bar in SoMa. He had seven pieces in the show, with one art piece Sunflowers inspired by the recent invasion of Ukraine.

    Misha Vladimirskiy: Sunflowers was inspired by a Ukrainian woman I saw in a video clip walking up to a Russian soldier and handing him sunflower seeds saying, “When you die on our land, flowers will bloom.” There’s beauty in what she said. She reminded me that Ukrainian people care so much about their homeland and will never give up.

    That beautiful picture by Misha that I actually wanted to buy sold for $1200. Misha’s share will go toward funds for the Ukrainian people.

    We were invited to guest on a podcast together, taped at the gallery. We spoke of our dinner at Pushkin, about the art show, and expressed our thoughts about how we hope this will all end.

    Misha concluded the conversation with: “Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes!”

    Misha on Instagram: @MishaVladimirskiy

    Pushkin: Enjoy the cuisine of Ukraine at this gem of a spot in Beldon Place, San Francisco. The dumplings with options of beef, chicken, or lamb are explosions of soupy, meaty joy and are worth the trip alone.

    Fundraising for Ukraine

    Celebrities have also been rallying, organizing online fundraisers for Ukraine. Ukrainian born Mila Kunis launched a GoFundMe with husband Ashton Kutcher and posted this:

    “Today, I am a proud Ukrainian. While my family came to the United States in 1991, I was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, in 1983. Ukrainians are proud and brave people who deserve our help in their time of need. This unjust attack on Ukraine and humanity at large is devastating and the Ukrainian people need our support. Our family is starting this fund to help provide immediate support and we will be matching up to $3 million dollars.” Their campaign as of this writing has raised $19 million dollars, just half way to their goal of $30 million.

    Here are some other ways you can support Ukraine on a local and national level:

    Rainbow World Fund

    San Francisco-based Rainbow World Fund is raising funds to support the LGBQT community in Ukraine.During this crisis, already vulnerable LGBTQ Ukrainians are even more at risk to be further marginalized and scapegoated.


    Children are the least responsible for the armed conflict in Ukraine, but they suffer most from its consequences. Your 100% tax-deductible donation will help UNICEF ensure that Ukraine’s children have access to safe water, nutrition, health care, education, and protection.

    Cookies for Ukraine

    Niles Pie shop is doing its bit too to support the people of Ukraine. They are baking cookies and sending them to the team at World Central Kitchen. You can purchase a box and send it with love to a part of the world that needs extra love and support right now.

    Nova Ukraine

    Money from donations to Nova Ukraine is allocated daily to frontline volunteers, helping provide emergency resources to both refugees as well as to citizens who have remained in the European nation.

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information:

    Published on March 10, 2022