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
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.