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Lithuanian Folk Wood Sculptures


September 27 through October 11, 2017
 

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

In celebration of Omaha's Sister City of Šiauliai, Lithuania, Lauritzen Gardens will host a third live demonstration of Lithuanian wood sculpture carving this fall.
Thanks to a recent grant from the Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund, from September 27 through October 11, gifted and acclaimed folk artist and wood carver Aurimas Šimkus of Kurtuvėnai, Lithuania (located just outside of Omaha's sister city - Šiauliai) will be onsite carving new works as part of the Saulės Takas project.    

  

Carver, Aurimas Šimkus will return to Lauritzen Gardens to create a series of three carvings that depict characters from an ancient Lithuanian folk tale, Jūratė and Kastytis. The legend is said to explain why pieces of amber come ashore after a storm on the Baltic Sea. 

 

Jūratė, a beautiful sea-goddess who lived in an amber castle at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, fell in love with a young fisherman named Kastytis. Her love for a mere mortal angered Perkūnas, the God of Thunder and, in a jealous rage, Perkūnas used his lightning bolts to kill Kastytis, shatter Jūratė's undersea palace, and bind Jūratė to the ruins for eternity. It is said that even today, when winds whip up raging storms in the Baltic Sea, one can hear Jūratė's mournful cries for her beloved Kastytis and, afterwards, one can still find small pieces of Jūratė's amber palace washed up on the sandy shores. 

  

The carving will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, just to the northeast of the lower festival garden in the old tram turnaround. Each day the sculptor will be demonstrating his creative wood-carving craft outdoors - in public view. On select days, guests can participate in an interactive question/answer session, with the assistance of a Lithuanian/English language interpreter. At other times, docents may be on site, but please note that the carver does not speak English fluently.  

  

The long-term vision of the Omaha Friends of Šiauliai (a programming committee  

of the Omaha Sister Cities Association) is to create a grove of Lithuanian folk wood sculptures at Lauritzen Gardens, called Saulės Takas (Path of the Sun), with a variety of pieces crafted by a diverse group of folk artists and wood carvers from Lithuania. This grove, which is located in the northeast corner of the arboretum, is the first of its kind in North America and is a reflection of the unique culture and history of Omaha's sister city of Šiauliai, Lithuania. Nearly 10 pieces have been carved to date, with an additional three pieces being added this fall and plans for many other sculptures in the future.  

  

Lithuanian tree carving is an ancient and prevalent part of the culture of the Baltic States and is an art form for which this part of the world has become well-known. These wood sculptures symbolize the gift of Lithuanian culture to the people of Omaha, as Omaha celebrates its continued sister city relationship, as well as its active Lithuanian community.  

  

  

                       

  

  

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