A huge sculpture in Washington’s Union Station marks the centennial of modern Lithuania
On Wednesday, May 23, a big sculpture “Garden” by internationally acclaimed Lithuanian American artist Ray Bartkus was opened in the Union Station, the main station in Washington DC.
“It’s symbolic that the Union Station features this art installation. Stations connect people. And we would like to further build our connections with the USA,” said Lithuania’s Ambassador to USA Rolandas Kriščiūnas.
“Lithuania cherishes close and multiple ties- political, economic, cultural,- between our two countries. But the most important ties are between the people. Lithuanian Americans always played a special and very important role in the relations between the two countries. A century ago Lithuanian Americans helped us to build modern Lithuania. They helped us to keep hope during the darkest years of Soviet occupation. Today Lithuanian Americans give their invaluable contribution to strengthening Lithuanian-USA relations,” said Ambassador Kriščiūnas during the opening ceremony.
“Today one of the most renown American Lithuanian artist Ray Bartkus presents the art installation “Gardens”. The motive of garden has centuries-long tradition in Lithuanian art and culture. By portraying it in contemporary form, Ray Bartkus bridges ancient and modern Lithuania,” said the Ambassador.
“Gardens” is inspired by Lithuanian folk art ornaments called “Sodai” -- strands of straw woven into complex 3D polygons. Ray Bartkus has reimagined these traditional ornaments through a contemporary magnifying lens, using modern materials and technology, now shaping LED and aluminum instead of straw, into a slowly rotating, giant geometric kaleidoscope.
Ray Bartkus noted that he wanted to present the Lithuanian traditional folk art to the US public in a modern way.
"As Lithuania celebrates the centennial of restored independence, I wanted to introduce Lithuania to America in the form of art. All the people who will see the installation, they will see Lithuania. This is a modern interpretation of Lithuanian classics," said the artists.
The event was organized by the Embassy of Lithuania and the MO Museum in Lithuania.
Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois was present and gave the speech during the opening ceremony, which also included a musical performance by percussionist Dalius Naujokaitis-Naujo, a New York-based pioneer of avant-garde experimental music and free jazz. The installation in the Union Station will stand all day on May 23. Later it will be featured in Philadelphia, New York, ant other cities across the USA.
Ray Bartkus is a conceptual artist who explores our visual comprehension of space, color, light and forms. His large-scale installations, which range from ethereal to imposing, from unsettling to whimsical, open up new ways for the viewer to relate with their environment. Born in Lithuania in 1961, he emigrated to the USA in 1991. He splits his time between New York City and Philadelphia.
His illustrations have been featured on the covers and pages of many national and international publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Time, Newsweek, Harper's, Billboard, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The New Republic, Smart Money, The Fortune, and Businessweek. Ray Bartkus’ works are in collections in numerous museums worldwide, including The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
MO museum is a world-class cultural destination opening in autumn 2018 to showcase local art and explore its links with the global art scene. The museum collected one of the largest private collections in Lithuania.
PS. A nice surprise by Latvian Youth choir BALSIS, which came to perform beautiful Latvian songs in front of Lithuanian "Gardens". Thankyou! Paldies!