On Wednesday, May 23, morning commuters in Union Station, in Washington DC, might have noticed that the Station’s Main Hall looked different.Travelers and tourists were greeted by internationally acclaimed Lithuanian American artist Ray Bartkus’ Gardens installation, a LED and aluminum mobile sculpture.
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.
Lithuanian Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas, Congressman John Shimkus, and Ray Bartkus officially opened the installation at 9 am on May 23. The ceremony included a musical performance by percussionist Dalius Naujokaitis-Naujo, a New York-based pioneer of avant-garde experimental music and free jazz.
As the sculpture draws on history and reinvents an iconic and age-old symbol, it epitomizes the resilience of the Lithuanian people in their quest for freedom and bold embrace of an innovative future. Situated in the central transit hub of the nation’s capital, the “Gardens” sculpture also underscores the important movement, dialogues and exchanges that exist between Lithuania and the United States. As a totally new and radical interpretation of tradition, the Gardens sculpture also affirms the belief in individual creative freedom that binds the two nations.
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.
The event is organized by the Embassy of Lithuania and the MO Museum in Lithuania. 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.
(via the Embassy of Lithuania. Photo of a computerized graphic image of the sculpture courtesy of the Embassy of Lithuania.)