14 Love Stories at M3

Ukrainian couple shares pop-up event

Fewer than four months new to Door County – after leaving their relatives and home in Kyiv, Ukraine – Oleh and Olena Izbenko are turning their love and gratitude outward through a pop-up event on the day of all love: Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. 

14 Love Stories celebrates relationships that overcome adversity and grow stronger over time, enabling couples to remain together, come what may. The Izbenkos met all of the couples since arriving in Door County last November. Oleh interviewed them, and Olena, who’s a photographer, took their photos.

The pop-up event is free to the public and will be open Feb. 14, 5-8 pm, at M3, 142 S. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. The event will comprise the gallery of love stories, short films for screening, selfie stations, live music by harpist Tammy Kazmierczak and refreshments.

M3 is the Miller Art Museum’s newest space, and though its use is still evolving, it’s intended to engage the community and is available to artists and crafters. Marie Kimball, the Miller Art Museum’s education and outreach coordinator, said she met the Izbenkos when they attended a Miller Art Museum event.

“Oleh pitched the idea of this Valentine’s Day event, and I thought it was appropriate to offer use of that space,” Kimball said.

The Izbenkos have created the whole event, with Miller Art Museum staff providing some logistical support.

“We have framing for their displays, and they want to show some short films, and I’ve been getting permissions and donations for food and beverages,” Kimball said.

The Izbenkos are living for now in a cottage owned by a Sturgeon Bay friend whom they met a decade ago in Ukraine. They said they’ve felt an outpouring of kindness and support since arriving with their children – Maria, 2, and Nikita, 4 – and wanted to give something back that would be of value to the community.

“If you are not a victim, you can create something,” Oleh said. “It’s better when you can create for somebody because kindness always returns. It’s a boomerang.”

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