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Lithuanian Artists from USA “TO LITHUANIA WITH LOVE”

2011 November 4 @ 17:00 - 2011 December 31 @ 12:00

Lithuanian Artists from USA

The islet, which has been able to survive in the exile for more than 50 years.            

Ciurlionis Gallery was opened in the Youth Center on October 20, 1957. Thus, the next year it will celebrate its 55th anniversary of existence. Its founding documents were signed by the artists Zenonas Kolba (1909-1972), Mikas J. Sileikis (1893-1987) and Antanas Skupas (Cooper, 1907-1992).

The main aim of the Gallery was to gather the works of the Lithuanian artists – the spiritual and cultural wealth of our nation – in order after the regaining of the independence of Lithuania these pieces of art would all come back to Lithuania. After five years of operation, in the event of disagreement, two galleries were founded. As a result, there are now Ciurlionis Gallery in Chicago and the Lithuanian Museum of Art in Lemont.

With the change of era, the activities of Ciurlionis Gallery changed as well. These days Ciurlionis Gallery has turned not only into the organizer of the exhibitions (even though this goal has remained as the major). After the restoration of the independence of Lithuania and with the arrival of new people into the U.S., the work of the Gallery, which was starting to fade, came back to life again. Performances are organized in the Gallery; moreover, the Lithuanian Writers’ Association also organizes poetry evenings, here; the Prizes of the Council of Culture are presented and piano music concerts take place in the Gallery.

In May, 2010, after “Arka” Gallery brought the exhibition under the title “Lithuanian Season”, featuring paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations and watercolor works by 30 well-known Lithuanian artists in Chicago, the idea to present the exhibition of the works of the Lithuanian artists, who live in the U.S. and recently have had the exhibitions in Ciurlionis Gallery, to the people of Lithuania was formed. The framed exhibition involves such the artists as Nora Ausriene (ceramics), Regina Palaitis-Benson (textiles), Nomeda Grumada (sculpture) Danguole Seputaite-Jurgutiene (painting), Sonata Kazimieraitiene (ceramics), Ausrine Marcinkeviciute-Kerr (graphics), A. Sporek (photography), Roland Kiaulevicius (painting), Danguole Stončiūtė-Kuolienė (graphics), Anton Lipskis (painting), Renata Palubinskas (painting), Alvydas Pakarklis (ceramics), Loreta Petraitis (painting), Audrius Plioplys (conceptual art) and Irene Saparniene (batik).

We invited the artists of different generations and different styles to participate in the exhibition. We want to show that Lithuanian artists, who came to the U.S. in the past, as well as recently, did not loose themselves in the foreign sea, that they create, participate in various exhibitions organized not only by Ciurlionis Gallery, but by its American counterparts as well; that each of them has a distinctive touch. It is unfortunate that not all of the invited artists are able to participate in the exhibition (the financial difficulties overburdened the shoulders of the artists living not only in Lithuania but also in the U.S.).  

The art lovers living in the U.S. for quite a considerable period of time, and even those still living in Lithuania but interested in the exile artists, do not need to be presented to such the artists as Regina Palaitis-Benson (her works could be seen in the exhibitions organized in San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Australia, England, Poland and France. In 2007 she won, “Quilt National Award of Excellence”), Algimantas Kezys (who is not familiar with this the photographer? – his exhibitions could be listed on a number of pages), Danguole Seputaite-Jurgutiene (who presented her works in the famous Detroit Institute of Art, and who won a number of different awards), (in the year 2008 she was the third prize winner of the 50-year anniversary exhibition in Chicago’s Ciurlionis Gallery. The same year she was awarded the prize of the “Artist in Residence” at the South Shore Art Center, Cohasset MA. She is one of the organizers of the creative camp “Meno 8 Dienos” (8 Days of Art) in Neringa, Vermont, as well as the participant of many exhibitions), the oldest participant in this exhibition Antanas Lipskis (who has privately studied art and painting with prof. Adomas Varnas, created over 1,500 of paintings, and published five books of poetry), or Audrius Plioplys (who with the help of his works records the idea and ​​integrates the viewer into an intellectual conversation). All of the above-mentioned authors arrived to the U.S. after the Second World War or were born in America. They have been living and creating here for many years already.

Another group of artists consists of the people who came to the United States not so long time ago. They completed their studies in Lithuania, but were able to keep the artist in themselves in this Atlantic coast as well. We are glad that the organizer of a number of exhibitions in Chicago ceramist Nora Ausriene has agreed to show her works in Lithuania. The works of the winners of the 50-year Anniversary Exhibition in Ciurlionis Gallery Irena Saparniene (her works created using the batik-on-silk technique for a period of 20 years are well-known to the art lovers. On March 11, in Chicago, Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave., a personal exhibition of Irena was opened), or Alvydas Pakarklis, who founded the high-temperature firing ceramic base in Panevezys Glass Factory, where even today pottery workshops are taking place; as well as the third prize winner of the 50-year Anniversary Exhibition in Ciurlionis Gallery Renata Palubinskas, are also sent to Lithuania. Renata is the face of the “Ann Nathan” Gallery in Chicago, and she is not only an interesting painter, who has organized a number of great exhibitions. She is also the illustrator of books, who published a book for children under the title “Puppy’s Fight against Terrorism” a few years ago. (We would like to remind that the patron of the 50-year anniversary prize of Ciurlionis Gallery was the artist and patron Magdalena Stankuniene, who is well-known in Lithuania).

The participants of the exhibition also includes Nomeda Grumada, the winner of the Art Prize of the U.S. LC Council of Culture in 2006, who also possesses a number of different American Awards (in 2000 – the first prize in Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival, in 2001 – Patron Award in Wilmette Arts Festival, in 2002 and 2003 – Buffalo Grove and Evanston Art Fair Awards. In 2004, the artist was awarded the Prize of Chicago Department of Cultural Art; she was also assessed by the Lithuanian Americans – in 2006 she was awarded the “Art Prize” of the Cultural Board of the Lithuanian American Community). Nomeda is the member of Chicago Artists’ Coalition and the Greenleaf Art Center. The people interested in art probably many times read about the ceramicist Sonata Kazimieraitiene that created 20 projects (in Green Hills Public Library, Palos Hills, IL; CTA Subway Station, Evanston, IL; in Colin Powell’s Name High School, Matteson, IL, etc.) in the American press.

We do hope that Lithuania will also be interested in the artist Rolandas Kiaulevicius, claiming that “a nationality is of no matter to the artist, who is making a career in the United States”, and admitting that a competition in the art is very big. However, this did not prevent the painter from publishing his illustrated book, “Zoolidays”, preparing more than one exhibition, becoming a lecturer at the Eastern Connecticut State University and New Haven University, and participating in a wide range of projects. The artist Ausrine Marcinkeviciute-Kerr, who has worked with leather for many years and has participated in numerous exhibitions, has recently decided to try herself in the field of graphics. The visitors of Ciurlionis Gallery have already been able to assess these experiments of her, and now she is preparing to introduce them to the viewer of Lithuania as well. The exhibition of Lithuanian Artists is a great opportunity to show that a creative person, despite of the part of the world he/she lives in, continues the creative work, finds a niche to his/her creations. We are pleased that our artists, regardless of when and under what conditions they found themselves in a foreign country, have not scattered themselves, remained faithful to the art and creative.

The organizers sincerely hope that the exhibition in “Arka” Gallery in Vilnius (this exhibition is also to travel to the other towns – Marijampole, Kedainiai – the note of G. Ziliute) will capture the interest of Lithuanian art lovers, will make it possible to become familiar with the contemporary artists working in the U.S., and will open up new opportunities for developing the intercultural dialogue between our countries.

Laima Apanaviciene
Director of Ciurlionis Lithuanian Art Gallery