• Embassy Listings • Ambassador Listings • Medical • Education • Hotels • Travel • Automotive • Real Estate • Foreign Film Directory • Diplomatic Spotlight • Classifieds


Lithuania Marks Centennial with Sculpture at Union Station

By Philip Gunn,

On May 23, commuters walking through Union Station had the unique opportunity to experience traditional Lithuanian culture through a modern-day piece of art as part of the country’s centennial celebration.

The event, organized by the embassy in partnership with the MO Museum in Lithuania, featured a large LED and aluminum mobile sculpture named “Gardens” created by Lithuanian American artist Ray Bartkus.

“Gardens” is inspired by Lithuanian folk art ornaments called “Sodai,” which translates to gardens. Sodai is a traditional Lithuanian art form that consists of hanging complex 3D geometric polygons made from straw, as well as bits of wood, which also has a religious resonance. Instead of using straw or wood, however, Bartkus reimagines these traditional ornaments by using contemporary technology and materials such as aluminum, fashioning them into a slowly rotating, giant geometric kaleidoscope.

Lithuanian American artist Ray Bartkus created a large LED and aluminum mobile sculpture named “Gardens” that was displayed at Union Station to celebrate the centennial of Lithuania’s independence.(Photo: Peter Alunans / Embassy of Lithuania)

“It’s symbolic that the Union Station features this art installation,” said Lithuanian Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas at the debut. “Stations connect people. And we would like to further build our connections with the U.S.A.

“Lithuania cherishes close and multiple ties — political, economic, cultural — between our two countries,” the ambassador added. “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-U.S. relations.”

After briefly gaining independence in 1918, Lithuania was occupied by the Nazis during World War II and then by the Soviets until it declared independence in 1990, a year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today, it is a thriving member of the European Union, eurozone and NATO.

Lithuanian Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas introduces the “Gardens” sculpture at Union Station. “It’s symbolic that the Union Station features this art installation,” he said. “Stations connect people. And we would like to further build our connections with the U.S.A.(Photo: Embassy of Lithuania)

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) joined Kriščiūnas for the opening ceremony, which also featured Bartkus and a musical performance by percussionist Dalius Naujokaitis-Naujo, a New York-based pioneer of avant-garde experimental music and free jazz.

Bartkus’s artwork creates complex and engaging environments through his monumental and figurative paintings and sculptures. The conceptual artist’s work has been presented in many publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times and Fortune. His works has also been displayed in museums worldwide, including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Much of his installations, which range from ethereal to imposing, address people’s experiences with today’s complex political, economical and social realities.

Commuters pose by the “Gardens” sculpture at Union Station.(Photo: Embassy of Lithuania)

“Gardens” reflects on Lithuania’s desire to retain its freedom and preserve its culture while adapting to the innovations of the present and future.

On June 23, the Baltics continue to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their independence with a Midsummer celebration at DuPont Circle from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In collaboration with the the DuPont Festival, the Embassies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will be offering a variety of workshops for both adults and kids in addition to traditional songs, dances and games. The Midsummer celebration predates Christianity’s arrival in the Baltic region and commemorates, in part, the strong and enduring pagan connection to nature. This connection has influenced both ancient beliefs and the modern cultures of the Baltic people.

Philip Gunn is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat.




Join us for a one-on-one interview with Ambassador of the Republic of Congo Serge Mombouli and The Washington Diplomat’s Managing Editor Anna Gawel for an evening of food, discussion and networking. Thursday, Feb. 28th from 6-9 p.m. at the Embassy of the Republic of Congo, 1720 16th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20009. Tickets are $65; foreign diplomats: $25; limited free tickets for Capitol Hill staffers. Click here for more information.

List your upcoming events here. For $275 per listing (as low as $150 with a term contract), your event listing will reach our more than 13,000 subscribers. If you are reading this ad, you know it works. Call (301) 933-3552 for more information.

Subscriber Services

• Advertising • Contact us

You are receiving this message because you provided your email address to us for The Diplomatic Pouch. If you do not want to receive future emails from us, please click Unsubscribe to be removed from the list.

About the Pouch

The Diplomatic Pouch is an email newsletter distributed to opt-in subscribers and produced by The Washington Diplomat, an independent monthly newspaper. The Pouch covers the diplomatic community, international affairs, politics, arts and culture, and social life in Washington, D.C. Although a complement to The Washington Diplomat newspaper, all content is original and exclusively written for the Pouch.

© 2017 The Washington Diplomat. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication is prohibited.