Born and raised in Russia, Alex Krasky came to the United States in 2000. He worked as a security officer (a position that led him to Las Vegas) until he was laid off in 2008. With new free time, Krasky realized his hands were built for a paintbrush and not a gun. The self-trained artist bowed to his wife’s urging and signed up for an art class. After a single oil painting lesson, Krasky discovered that the medium came naturally. He painted for two years until he found the perfect muse.
“When Michael Jackson died, I had only been painting for a couple of months with oils, but I decided to make a painting of him,” he says. “I decided to give the painting to his parents. I went to the [memorial service at Staples Center], but they wouldn’t let me in.”
He wasn’t deterred. Last summer, he participated in a contest to paint Gov. Jim Gibbons, but missed the deadline. Krasky completed the portrait while documenting his progress on YouTube. Channel 13 featured his work, and he received a letter saying that Gibbons would like to add the painting to his collection.
“I was thinking that it was a joke,” he says. The next thing he knew, Gibbons himself showed up at his front door.
“I began to think about what I wanted as an artist,” Krasky says, adding that he has never sold a single painting (Gibbons’ painting was a gift). “I want to be recognized, and I want to be known. … I started to think about the most significant piece of art I can do. I asked myself who had the biggest impact in the United States and I realized that the people with the most influence are the presidents.”
Krasky has just finished a painting of what he deems the five most significant presidents: John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. And he’s just sent Obama a letter saying as much.
“I have a dream that in one month I will personally give it to Barack Obama,” he says. “The United States is a country of miracles. Anything can happen here.”