Focus on Art

By Irma Ashley
Dimitar Krustev is a multi-talented Bulgarian, born and raised in the mountains of that country. He loved to draw and wandered through the foothills, drawing the wonders of nature, a love he still cherishes today He drew every chance he got, never tiring of what the hand that guided him produced. He never needed much encouragement for he felt compelled, even driven, to draw and paint.

Fortune was not always kind to this man and his idyllic life was interrupted when Bulgaria had to choose between who would overrun them: the Germans or the Russians. Bulgaria, out of fear of Stalin, opted to be taken over by the Germans.
When Dimitar was nineteen and longing to attend the Academy of Arts in Bulgaria, he was drafted and became the Bulgarian arm of the German Army. He hated war and often would be caught drawing rather than looking for enemies to shoot at. Finally, his commanding officer grew weary of forcing Dimitar to drop his paintbrush and pick up his rifle and used his influence for Dimitar to test for a scholarship at the Academy of Arts. Out of five hundred applicants, Dimitar was one of three awarded a scholarship.
The German war machine faltered and Russia and communism took over Bulgaria. Although criticized for turning away from communism, he was still allowed to finish his four-year stint at the academy. During this period he found himself leaning more and more toward drawing portraits and appreciating the curves and planes of the human body.
Opportunity knocked and he left Bulgaria to come to the United states where his sister and brother-in-law lived. Once there he got his Bachelor of Arts degree at Kent State and went on to get his Masters Degree in art at the University of Iowa.
His ability did not go unnoticed and he became a commercial artist for the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens. During the nine years he was there, he managed to open his own studio and taught art to promising pupils. Finally he left the magazine to produce art on his own terms. Always on a quest, he went deep into the Mexican jungle to live, work and paint. He lived in relative obscurity until his works were shown in Mexico City to critical acclaim.

In Omaha, Nebraska where he was painting and teaching, he was taken by the talent of one of his students and soon he and Helen Marie married. They both continued with their calling and soon were dividing their time between a home in Des Moines, Iowa and Mexico where Helen Marie loved to paint Mexican women in brightly colored dresses going about their business in their village surroundings.
Before long they abandoned Des Moines and built a home here. While other people have His and Her towels, they have his and her studios. He still does commissioned portraits and teaches. They exhibit together and while their style and perception is different, they compliment each other This busy intense man has also time do filming, write four books and is an avid photographer. His most popular book, “River of the Sacred Monkey” can be purchased at CABA, Mi Mexico, The Waffle House and the Libro in Chapala The book is about the joys and hardships of living in the jungle with the Lacandon Indians.

Adventurous by spirit, Dimitar and Helen Marie have painted all over the world by selling their paintings in advance. Their ability to paint has allowed them to indulge this wanderlust. And where are they thinking of going next?. Dimitrar thought it might be nice to visit Chile and paint the mountains.. .
Visit Dimitar and Helen Marie in their studios. Take a painting class or consider a portrait of a loved one as a gift. You can reach Dimitar and set up an appointment by calling 6 33 81.