Siberian Canadian Artist Launches Olympic Legacy!

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Olympians Anastasia Bucsis, Catriona LeMay Doan, gold medalist Christine Nesbitt and hall of fame coach Debby Fisher, among others have been drawn to a legacy launched by Calgary-based artist Zinour.

"We know how much it costs to fund an athlete with Olympic dreams,"

Canadian speed skaters have been sporting a new clothing line called Inuksuk Legacy Clothing (http://www.legacyartworkbyzinour.com). Launched at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Legacy was created by famed Siberian-Canadian portrait artist, Zinour.

Toques, ball caps, T-shirts and scarves all sport a distinctive Inuksuk logo. In addition to the clothing line, Zinour has also created a limited number of Siberian Inuit style drums with the same logo. The drums are star shaped and appear to have horns which symbolize the antlers of the reindeer. This unique design has been a huge selling feature. Zinour thought the idea of the Canadian Inuksuk coupled with the Siberian drum would be a good symbol of friendship between the 2010 Olympics and the 2014 Games to be held in Russia.

The intention Zinour and his wife Gayle Fathoullin have for the merchandise is to use some of the proceeds to support speed skating clubs across Canada. Gayle says that most people don't know that speed skating often accounts for one-third of Canada's medals. The Fathoullins have a strong love for the sport as their fourteen-year-old son, Sasha, has been skating for 10 years and is ranked No. 1 nationally in the juvenile short track age category and No. 3 in long track. As a midget, he won the Canadian championships and currently holds eight Canadian records.

"We know how much it costs to fund an athlete with Olympic dreams," said Gayle. She called the Legacy line a win, win, win situation for the athletes, the speed skating clubs and their own business.

Zinour will donate 20 per cent of the proceeds of merchandise sold at speed skating events to the club hosting it. Since the Games have ended, the Fathoullins have already attended and fund-raised at three of these events.

Zinour received an overwhelming response to Legacy from athletes, their families and others who liked what they saw.

Speed skating Olympians Anastasia Bucsis, Catriona LeMay Doan, gold medalist Christine Nesbitt and hall of fame coach Debby Fisher all support the new line, as well as former Olympian speed skaters Craig MacKay (1958, 1962) and Johnny Sands (1962). Three-time gold medalist in hockey, Hayley Wickenheiser, is also a fan.

The idea for Legacy came in November 2009 when Sasha's former coach, Fisher, bought one of the drums and Zinour took it home and painted an Inuksuk on it as a thank you. People loved the design and suggested they look into selling merchandise at the Olympics. Only beginning to brainstorm in January, Zinour decided to partner with Speed Skating Canada and received the final OK from the Olympic marketing committee on February 8.

The original four drums were sold at $1500. Zinour decided while at the Olympics to create a souvenir drum as well. While in Vancouver he had materials shipped to him overnight and produced 30 drums. Additional drums are available on commission.

The Legacy line can be purchased online at legacyartworkbyzinour.com. You can also follow Zinour on Facebook.

Zinour's upcoming projects include a solo art exhibition and sale which is opening on June 12, 2010 at the Banff Mansion. He will also be launching a project called "Women of the West - Unsung Heroines and Rebels" that will feature women both past and present who have made a significant difference to western Canadian life by their service.

Zinour's portrait of Christos Hatzis, which led him to be named one of Canada's top-30 portrait artists, will be on display at the Art Gallery of Calgary until April 10.

By: Rebecca Medel

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