FATKULIN , Yuri Victorov A Baltimore fixture for the past 30 years, Yuri Fatkulin , better known as "Yuri the Artist", has succumbed to cancer and passed away on Thursday, January 12, 2012. Mr. Fatkulin, better known to all as just Yuri, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was a graduate of the very prestigious St. Petersburg University, earning a doctorate Degree in the study of art and history. He came to Baltimore under exile, while fleeing his, then oppressive, country, Russia. He was given Asylum by the U.S. Government and protected under our laws as an exile. It was not long, that Yuri became proficient in the English language and became a part of the Baltimore Scene. His American "roots" are mostly entrenched in East Baltimore, where one could see him roaming the Fells Point, Canton, and Little Italy streets on a daily basis, always with paint brushes and palette in hand. Yuri's talent began to be more and more recognized as time went by. He was commissioned by the Maryland State Lottery in the early days to create and paint the original "Lottery Clock" which was viewed in the background on a daily basis in the nightly drawings. One of the most prestigious jobs incurred on Yuri was the restoration of the magnificent ceiling in the "John Eager Howard" room at the Belvedere Hotel. Following this restoration, Yuri made his living creating "beautiful" art for many local restaurants. Anyone who has ever eaten at a plethora of Baltimore Restaurants may have been embraced by some of Yuri's Art. Among some of the eateries, which still display his artwork are Rocco's, Germano's, Vinny's, Latin Palace, Finn's, Speakeasy, Diego Dames, Palmerie's and Cafe Gia's. It is at Cafe Gia's, where he has done the most extensive work of his career. He has literally spent the past six years devoting his time to this masterpiece of Artwork. He spent the last days of his life, never wanting to stop what he loved most...creating Beauty At Cafe Gia Ristorante. His last works were, beautifully painted tabletops which he finished just before he passed. Yuri had a knack about him. He never fully "finished a painting", as many of the people who commissioned his work can attest to, he always would say, in the old country there is a saying, "never finish a job...because when you do...you die"...and then he would laugh. One of his biggest fans and procurer of his artwork was "Bob" from "The Antique Man" store, a well known antique dealer in Fell's Point. Besides his artwork, Yuri will be remembered for his ability to transcend and adapt to any situation. Yuri was an extremely educated man who could have a conversation with a "King" or a "Pauper" and respect each fully. Everyone Yuri encountered in life became his "best" friend. This is a talent very few human beings have. He was a loving human being, sometimes misunderstood as many of us are. Yuri's legacy is his free spirit, and his love of everything that only his eyes could see as a work of Art. He is survived by one son, Yuri Bisignani; young Yuri's mom Auretta Bisignani; his sister and niece Luda and Ana, in St. Petersburg, Russia, and many, many, "best" friends and acquaintances. Through the very generous donation by one of his "best" friends, "Jimmy".
Yuri will be in repose on Wednesday January 18, 2012, from 2 PM to 9 PM at the JOSEPH N. ZANNINO JR. FUNERAL HOME, 263 S. Conkling St. (at Gough) in Highlandtown. A celebration of life and memorial will be held at the Sons of Italy/Little Italy Lodge on THURSDAY, January 19, 2012, from 6 PM to 8:30 PM, located at the 900 Block of East Pratt St. Anyone who knew Yuri, or has any art or stories to share, please come. Bring a beer or two to the Sons of Italy/Little Italy Lodge Hall, one for you and one for a toast to Yuri, he would like that...Thank You.
Published in Baltimore Sun on Jan. 17, 2012.