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  • Writer's pictureLeeza Arkhangelskaya

To reach the Unreachable Star

East West Fine Art turns 25


Leeza and Olga Arkhangelskaya

 

In 2024, one of Naples’ oldest and most beloved galleries - East West Fine Art will turn 25 - a quarter of a century.


Looking back 25 years, neither Olga nor her daughter Leeza Arkhangelskaya had ever dreamt of becoming gallerists. Both found their way into the arts later in life, after careers in the international sphere. They half-jokingly call themselves “recovering economists,” insisting that it is ART that is curing them and the world.


Coming from Russia, where love for fine art is cultivated from early childhood, mother and daughter lived their entire lives surrounded by the finest works of art, architecture, music, and books.


In the mid-1990s, running from turmoil and war in Russia, Olga and Leeza arrived in America with only two suitcases and a strong desire to rebuild their lives on their new soil. Starting over in a foreign country presented numerous emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges that the women faced head-on.


Years went by, and Olga and Leeza settled in Washington DC, pursuing careers and studies in the field of international economics. After graduating from Harvard University, Olga began a promising career at the World Bank in Washington DC. Later, Leeza, with a graduate degree from the University of Geneva, started to work for the United States Agency for International Development.


It was during that time, the late 1990s when the first pieces of art for their collection were acquired – these were historical items bought through Sotheby’s and from art galleries in Paris and London.


And then, quite unexpectedly one visit to Naples changed everything. Olga was fascinated by the small yet cultured town, flourishing with art galleries and art admirers.



The idea of having her own art gallery and influencing people’s tastes and aesthetical perceptions captivated Olga. The gallery would also allow her to continue her life-long mission of being a cultural ambassador between the world’s greatest cultures: American, Russian, and European. Here in Naples, Olga and Leeza decided to pursue this goal through fine art, versus economic policies in Washington DC. Nonetheless, the transition from the world of social science to business was the toughest challenge in their lives.


Olga and Leeza set high goals: through art, they would share the idea of beauty, educate, and cultivate good taste, and raise the spirit of everyone who visits the gallery. Olgas’ and Leeza’s parents and grandparents were teachers and university professors, so the mission to educate and share ideas is in their blood.


Another serious undertaking was finding artworks appropriate for the specific Naples art market. These artworks need to speak to local people, correspond with their aesthetical aspirations, and resonate with their personal experiences, and cultural traditions. This task required perceptiveness, observation, and good psychological analysis.


Olga and Leeza work very hard to discover artists who are original, educated, inspired, and highly skilled. They avoid bringing trendy and popular artworks but rather focus on unique non-commercial, aesthetically, and spiritually timeless pieces from many countries.

No wonder that for almost a quarter of a century, East West Fine Art has acted as a true community cultural center and plays an important role in the Naples Art scene.


 

Mercato

9115 Strada Place, #5155

Downtown

472 Fifth Avenue South

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