INDIAN TRAIL – Vladimir Antonyuk has only been in the United States for 14 years, and while his English may still be a work in progress, his artwork is masterful.
Antonyuk, who studied both engineering and art in his native Ukraine, is a metalworker and sculptor specializing in metal railings, gates, and other architectural accents.
He lives in Matthews, but has his office and studio at Technology Park in Indian Trail, where he’s set up shop for the past eight years.
“I was art teacher in my country and designer,” he said.
Antonyuk and his family decided to move to the United States 14 years ago when there was inner turmoil within his home country and Russia, and as he said, “we got the Green Card lottery.”
He first moved his family to Seattle, Wa., where he set up Volodko, his metalwork company. He soon began designing elegant staircases to go into large homes, as well as accents like fireplace screens, wall art and more. He built his portfolio and had a good network of fellow artisans to work with, but the weather eventually got to him.
When a friend invited him to North Carolina to visit, he decided, “This place, it’s more quiet, the weather is better.”
And with that he moved his family to Matthews where they purchased a home in desperate need of repair, and began to build his business.
Seven years later, his home is almost completely renovated, his children have graduated from college and Antonyuk has built his business to where he wants it to be.
“And all mouth to mouth,” he said, explaining how word about his business gets around. “We’re doing the best, I believe. We can do everything, any material.”
And while his main business is the metalwork, his passion is art.
“Really I’m artist. I like making artwork when I have an order for art,” he said. “It makes me so happy. I’m a very happy person.”
His love and passion for art is one of the reasons he and his wife Mila, who is also an artist and art teacher, hold art classes for students at the Indian Trail studio.
Antonyuk said it’s important for children to learn at a young age that if they want to do something, they have to actively pursue it and that means getting off the couch and away from the computer.
“We need to try, if you don’t try to do things, you never do,” he said. “Sometimes what you make is good, sometimes not. But you have to make some first step.”
Antonyuk said he’s a hard worker, and that’s one of the things he loves most about living in the United States.
“They’re hard workers, they have open hearts, they’re smart, this is the reason I am here,” he said. “This is the best country.”
And that sentiment, he said, is something he believes Americans sometime forget – just how great their country is.
Antonyuk is patriotic, but he’s also very passionate about the community he lives in and near.
Recently, he’s built a number of benches for Lake Park, between Indian Trail and Stallings, and he’ll be installing the latest bench during a ceremony next week as Cub Scout Pack 151 dedicates the bench to the town.
He said he loves creating outdoor work, where all people can have a nice place to go and enjoy it. But for Antonyuk, form is as important as function, and he said his benches are designed to handle a couple, a family, or just a single person who want to sit and relax — it’s not just something pretty to look at.
To learn more about Antonyuk and his artwork, visit www.volodko.com.