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Nicolai Kuvshinoff


Kuvshinoff was long-time artist in Seattle with a painting style called neo-cubist, Nicolai Kuvshinoff created abstract, bold works that reminded some viewers of the paintings of Pablo Picasso.

He lived in the Cascade neighborhood with his artist wife, Bertha, in what was called "an inseparable marriage" of 57 years. They painted together and carefully protected each other's solitude.

He was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was a child. They first lived in Minnesota and then moved to Seattle where his father built the Russian Orthodox St. Spiridon Church in Cascade. Nicolai and Bertha were married in that church.

He had many one-man shows throughout Europe and in the U.S., exhibiting a style that was called neo-cubist. Abstract and bold, it was similar to Pablo Picasso's work and is noted in the "Who's Who in American Art" almanac.

His career began early. While still in high school, he sketched fashion ads for the Bon Marche. That was followed by a stint at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a cartoonist, before he started his own art school in Port Townsend.

In World War II he not only painted murals for Seattle nightclubs, but also for officers' clubs while he was in the armed forces between 1943 and 1946. During that time, he was decorated with two Bronze Stars. He was stationed in India, central Burma and China, and weighed 143 pounds when he enlisted.

Creative in many ways including playing the balalaika, he had numerous one-man shows in Europe and the United States.