What’s an Alkonost?

Slavic FolkArt Alkonost, or Fairy Bird
Slavic FolkArt Alkonost, or Fairy Bird

The Alkonost is a Slavic/Russian folk tale woman-bird.  She’s like a Siren, but all good.  Instead of singing us to our death, she sings to life– in fact, she sits on the tree of life, which is heavy with fruit.   She’s a bird of joy, not sorrow, though she has a dark sister.

We have over 25 small fruit trees in our backyard orchard, thanks to my husband Scott.  There truly is an amazing sense of abundance and joy connected to flowering, fruiting trees.  He planted three more on Sunday… a pear, a Sierra Gold apple, and a Blenheim apricot.  I think I’ll envision an Alkonost in the garden to encourage them.

I have an idea that abstraction can be related to fairy and folk tales.  Both are not “real” or objective realities.  Both are altered by the individual artist’s  hand painting or the storyteller reciting.  Both aim for expression and adaptation rather than precision.  Both use icons and symbols.  Of course, you can create original narratives without abstraction– here I’m thinking of the paintings of Tony Spiers.

Tony Spiers, Rocket Ship
Tony Spiers, Rocket Ship

These  narratives are revealed by the painting, that, like a dream, didn’t exist before the art was made.  I like the paintings of Jesse Reno as well.  They are more abstract, but seem to contain an implied narrative.

Jesse Reno, Floating Owlf
Jesse Reno, Floating Owlf

I have two paintings in this abstract narrative genre at the Alkonost Show at Gallery of Sea and Heaven.  The Saturday reception evening will be enlivened by a storyteller and a big bad Wolf.  As the East Coast digs itself out from under a blizzard, the fruit trees are starting to bloom here.  May the Alkonost light in your real and ideal Gardens!

Alkonost Show Flyer, Sat. Feb. 16, 5-7 PM
Alkonost Show Flyer, Sat. Feb. 16, 5-7 PM


  1. Can’t come this weekend, Suzanne, but hope to come see you on Thursday 2/21 in your studio. Just to confirm –that is the regular open house night at A Street Galleries, right? I miss you!! Sandra


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