For former Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov, life since his 1997 accident has been quiet. After suffering a traumatic brain injury, the Russian ice legend has spent years coping with the changes that his new life brings — and finding a new passion within the realm of artistry.
It was 14 years ago, just six days after the Red Wings clenched a Stanley Cup victory, a limousine hired to drive home Konstaninov, Viacheslav Fetisov and a team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov lost control in Birmingham and hit a tree on the Woodward Avenue median.
This Thursday, for the first time ever, the public will get a rare glimpse into Konstantinov over the years, and the artist that he has become. Gallery U in Royal Oak will display 42 pieces from his animal-themed collection, where he uses various mediums including watercolor, salt dough and torn paper.
Customers will have the chance to purchase these one-of-a-kind pieces to take home with them. Around 500 people are expected to attend the showing.
“There has been a lot of interest. We are hoping that people will be inspired to come out and actually see his artwork and see Vladi the artist,” said Susan Miller, marketing and admissions coordinator for the gallery.
Gallery U, in conjunction with the , a rehabilitation facility in Troy, provides the rare opportunity for those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and neurological impairments, like Konstantinov, to channel their passion into artwork. The Gallery displays the finished pieces and also acts as a vocational training program, helping clients work to familiarize themselves with day to day activities and responsibilities.
“Art challenges our clients physically, cognitively, emotionally and imperatively,” said Barbara Hill, Gallery U occupational therapist and vocational director.
The different types of artwork that can be found in Gallery U include painting, sculpture, woodworking, jewelry, furniture and textile.
“When the clients get into the program, if they are comfortable with the idea, they are encouraged to start working on a portfolio and once they start doing that, they have the freedom of artistic thought,” said Ashley Cook, vocational rehab specialist at Gallery U.
“The clients are inspired to be creative and to move forward and to take on new challenges and new risks,” adds Miller. “Those are the kinds of things that when you combine them really help a person to grow and get that person to that next step in their life.”
The prices for Konstanstinov’s artwork range, and those who purchase a piece will be able to take a picture with the artist himself. Each piece has also been autographed. All proceeds will be donated to a charity chosen by the Konstantinov family.
Gallery U is located at 310 W. Fourth St. and is open noon-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Konstantinov’s artwork will be on display 7-9 p.m. Nov. 17.
For more information, call 248-399-7322 or visit the Gallery U Facebook page.