Born in Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg, Sergey Cherep is an artist with a touching story. He developed meningitis at the age of 3 and became paralyzed, unable to speak or walk for several years. He found comfort in painting, and began studying art while he attended a school for children with disabilities. Cherep later attended college at the Serovo Art Institute, and then decided to come to America to gain the artistic freedom he desired. Speaking no English, he got a job as a custodian making $150 per week and painting in his free time. His manager let him host an art show in the cafeteria, and from there Cherep moved on to do shows in a frame shop in Atlanta. When he visited Napa Valley in 1994 for the World Cup soccer game, he was enchanted by the ambiance, landscape, grapes, and nature. His art began to change from the traditional European style of stark realism to bright colors of the land and sea. His work now hangs in major galleries internationally.