I have an experience of writing about Samara in various ways – sometimes criticising, other times passionately defending, sometimes simply contemplating. I am done with the first two, but the third one deserves a bit more than just showing rows of photos. So here’s a new take on Samara – one weekly picture year-long with some comments on a random topic that is somehow associated with what you can see in the photo or is evoked by that. Let it be an attempt at showing really random, but postcard-quality-like images juxtaposed with my musings that you are certainly free to just disregard.
One of the features in the city landscape I like the most is the art of mosaics on building façades. It seemed to be especially popular in the 1960-1970s. The topics are often traditional for that time – achievements of the Soviet rule, representatives of various professions, sports, space exploration, international friendship and even advertising. Yes, we had plenty of advertisements in the Soviet Union while having no commercial breaks on those one and a half TV channels at the time.
Any big city had at least several banners, neon signs, placards promoting Marx, Engels, Lenin, Communist Party, Sberbank (called Savings Bank), and Aeroflot. Savings Bank was the only bank people could have accounts at, while Aeroflot was the only airline people could fly.
Aeroflot is actually one of the oldest still functioning airlines in the world dating back to 1923. The “Soviet” prefix was dropped in the 1990s, but lots of people still keep both names together. This is far from the truth and nowadays Aeroflot is just like its other big international peers. But my story is not about the airline.
If you walk along Ulitsa Kuibysheva (Kuibyshev Street) then you will notice a rather big mosaic on the wall of a building standing on the corner with Ulitsa Nekrasovskaya (Nekrasov Street). The house itself is obviously much older than the mosaic. I suggest you come here in the afternoon or even early evening before sunset. Then this wall will be lit with sun’s warm yellow shade. If the day is clear the blue sky will further enhance the feeling of romantic longing.
There are people and an airplane’s detail there. A pilot, a mechanic (?) and a flight attendant are welcoming children to join their flight to some destination of happiness. The Soviet flag and Aeroflot’s emblem are clearly visible on the plane’s fin. It is hard to say now when exactly the mosaic appeared on this wall, probably in the mid-1960s. The stylistic is light and romantic while the flight crew figures are typical of Aeroflot’s 1960s posters. Besides, mosaics of the 1970s-1980s were more complicated and abstract, instead of mostly linear configurations of objects.
I love this piece for many reasons. It is associated with air travel, it is rather romantic, it looks attractive. A window that sits right in the middle of the mosaic is either invisible or well-positioned depending on how you look at it. The mosaic being from the 1960s looks fine in the older surroundings. If you see it in the right light it may even shine brighter and evoke additional feelings.
A few years ago somebody wanted to destroy the mosaic. I don’t remember the reason, probably just to renovate the walls. The works began but the public outcry managed to nip them in the bud. A happy exception from the pessimistic history of destruction in my city. Only some minor detail was lost. So you can enjoy this Aeroflot advertising from the bygone era when Aeroflot was Soviet and children were invited to fly to some destination of happiness.