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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:23 pm 
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It is 1994 - or was it 1995?? I must consult my old passport [I have consulted]. I was there at the unveiling of the bust. I have just found all my old photos and will post them here. You know the story of the Golem made in the laboratory in medieval Krakow ghetto; Poland.. well the sculptor, had his freezing studio just like how you would imagine..a 15th century building, a veritable alchemist's workshop, yes... discorporate attempts cluttering the place. How appropriate. There were several clay and paper sketches of the bust, including the 'full sized' maquette, so you can see the image at ground level for once.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 8:21 am 
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After all the speeches, and the wonderful bonhomie, and the severe military marching band, we all had a group photo. I am in there - guess who I am. The sculptor is there, as well as Saulis Pukstis, the charismatic madman who dreamt up this idea
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:16 am 
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diplomaticpermissiondeepi wrote:
I am in there guess who I am.


I guess you are the one in the centre, the man with the horns, cap and glasses ;-)

Th.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:32 am 
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Here is a view of the crowd with the media and the Military Band. I can see me again Thinman.
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Another deeper shot, lucky I had those Belgian Franks with me. I said at the time that Frank may have approved of the Bassoon, as this fine instrument has the 'medieval aroma'. I have carried that expression in my head since I was 15, but I cannot remember where it was first referenced.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 11:44 am 
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Though I see my guess from picture 1 again here, I now vote for the other guy with a beret and the long black hair and beard (blanket in muesli) and long dark overcoat which was in front of the other guy in pic. 1.

Or you are one of the girls.

Th.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:10 pm 
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The sculptor is a hero; he had to do the run of Lenin and other 'heroes' during the dark days.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 3:44 pm 
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For better or worse - the image of FZ is now iconic. There are some horrible representations, but this bust is one of the finest. I think the others that are around the place are appalling.
FULL SIZED fired clay mould
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:03 pm 
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Wow, thanks for that.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:18 pm 
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diplomaticpermissiondeepi wrote:
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That's a weird ceremony. Looks like a military honor for FZ. :?

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:39 pm 
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The Zappa section is the last paragraph. The Young Lithuanian is Saulis Pukstis. I hope this does not detract from your enjoyment of the whole article




A Home For the Vilified



World Sculpture News [ Stop Press from our sculpture correspondent!!!]
By Adam B. Ellick

GRUTAS, Lithuania—
It started innocently enough in 1997 when Viliumas Malinauskas drove to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to purchase a gravestone for a deceased relative. Before reaching his remote destination, he stumbled upon the body of comrade Vladimir Lenin. Nearby was Joseph Stalin. Karl Marx wasn't far behind.

It was a communist sculpture graveyard in the form of a junkyard. For nearly five decades of Soviet rule, such works gloriously adorned virtually every city center in Eastern Europe. But when communism collapsed in 1991, liberated citizens took blowtorches to the statues of their evil leaders. Although numerous works were crushed - some even exploded with dynamite - many were rescued and have been quietly collecting dust in state - owned storage areas, like the one Malinauskas encountered, ever since.

On his drive home, the millionaire entrepreneur coined a revolutionary idea: the world's first Soviet Sculpture Park. Four tiring years later he founded Grutas Park, a two - acre thick pinned forest in southern Lithuania providing a peaceful resting place for more than 60 realist statues of former communist leaders and partisans. Despite the fervid controversy that swept this tiny Baltic nation, the park officially opened on April 1, 2001 and has counted 200,000 visitors from 100 different nations.

The purpose of his endeavor, he insists, is to provide a medium so younger generations can learn about Lithuania's tragic past, when one - third of its population was deported to Siberian labor camps and murdered under Stalin and Lenin. To prove his point, Malinauskas, 41, erected a small Soviet history museum - decorated with Red party paraphernalia - in the solemn park. One banner reads: "Love the communist party, dear child, as you love your mother."

"When I see these statues I can remember my youth and recall how tragic it was for most of the people. If you destroy and forget it's easy for new ideologies to come back."

Despite his noble intentions, Malinauskas's mission has been the target of fierce protests and a borderline - crazed media blitz here in Lithuania. His plan is too close for comfort for conservative politicians and some 60,000 survivors of Soviet prison camps, who desperately tried to halt the park's inception. They claim this now - independent republic is regressing by displaying the statues, especially in the very forest where Soviet and Nazi armies killed Lithuanian freedom fighters 50 years ago. One member of parliament has vowed to bomb the park after he completes his term. Malinauskas has received heaps of hate mail and threatening phone calls. But he's also collected loads of praise and proudly presents six books of guest signatures expressing appreciation.

Leonas Kerosierus, the park's most outspoken critic, calls Grutas "Marxism and Leninism under open skies." He carries a portfolio of letters from organizations and individuals opposed to Grutas. He's accumulated more than a million signatures and endorsements from the Lithuanian Catholic Church, national NGOs, prominent academics, art professors, and Lithuanian - Americans. Despite his backing, a poll showed 63 percent of Lithuanians favor the park.

"Imagine if there were monuments for the people who ordered the terrorists at the World Trade Center ruins?," asks Kerosierus, a retried politician who helped lead Lithuania to independence. He points out that no Hitler statues reside in Germany. "How would you feel if a stranger came into your community and started raping, killing and robbing you. Then, after a while, another guy comes and builds monuments to those murderers and rapists in the same place."

"These aren't statues from Eastern Island that were built thousands of years ago. It's only 10 years since the fall of communism and this ideology is still alive in the minds of the people," says park critic Zibartas Simonaitis, a Lithuanian architect.

Malinauskas answers his critics by pointing to a Soviet history book that rests on his office shelf. He quickly finds his desired page to show a photo of a young man. Jurgis Malinauskas, his father, spent 10 brutal years cutting trees in Siberia, while mother and son worked seven days a week on a collective farm, earning an annual salary of $10. Then he adds, "my uncle died in Siberia."





All of this bitterness has fueled a flurry of worldwide media interest. At the park's entrance Malinauskas displays articles, both pro and con, from as far as Asia and America. One Lithuanian magazine features Malinauskas on its cover and dubs him "the Devil." Another outlet twinned the park "Stalin World," a catchy theme that quickly spread. But the mild mannered Malinauskas shuns the term and says America's magical wonderland doesn't resemble Lithuania's real - world horrors.

The drama began when he received opportune news just a few months after envisioning the park. The State competition was offering the long - hidden statues to whoever could best display them. A few municipal museums drew up proposals requesting state funding. But Malinauskas's plan, which didn't require financial support, was far more enticing to the cash - strapped State.

Technically, he doesn't own the statues, which arrived on a 20 - year loan. He's so confident in the State's support that he invested more than $1 million in the park, which is just a fraction of the 200 - hectares complex that also houses his canned mushroom export business and mansion, where he lives with 13 family members.

He spent $120,000 merely transporting the statues - the heaviest weighs 75 tons - and broke 16 tires along the way. He built a Soviet - themed restaurant where patrons can dare to down cutlet, blackbread and an obligatory shot of vodka amidst old Soviet tunes that blare from the park's loudspeakers. Barbed wire fences and lookout towers, which convey an eerie concentration camp feel, trace the 1.5 - kilometer path, which was once nothing but swamp. There's even a mini - zoo for children too young to grasp the exhibit. Construction has commenced for a Soviet art gallery. His bid to install a running deportation train that would transport visitors from Vilnius to the park was derailed by the Culture Ministry, which deemed the plan insensitive. Instead, the authentic train rests at the park's entrance.

Demonstrating his business savvy, Malinauskas doesn't hide from his critics. The park features five wooden statues that mockingly profile his most ardent opponents including Kerosierus. He says the humorous works mysteriously appeared at the park's entrance one morning. Critics, however, are convinced it was a solicited public relations stunt.

If critics like Kerosierus had their way, they'd prefer to see the communist statues on display at the KGB Museum in Vilnius, a haunting building and underground torture chamber where a 1,000 Lithuanians were once beaten to death. In fact, Simonaitis, the architect, drew up a proposal to display 20 statues in its main hall and courtyard. He argues the museum, with a professional tour guide, would better explain the nation's horrific history.

"Statues in the park are being displayed in better places than they were in the city," says Simonaitis, aggressively pointing his fingers. "They are being given more honor than before."

Kerosierus says the park is akin to violence in America's entertainment industry, where certain programming incites youths to act violently. He says Grutas doesn't fully or properly explain the ideologies, allowing for vulnerable visitors to leave with the wrong impression.

But Kerosierus' accusations, like most critics, seem a bit tainted for one simple reason: he's never been to Grutas, and he won't go unless someone "cuffs me and takes me." Perhaps he's unaware the park's captions and explanations, although rather scarce and repetitive, were provided by the very KGB Museum that he praises.

Malinauskas notes many prominent Lithuanians were staunch park opponents until they visited. Take renown realist sculptor Dr. Konstantinas Bogdanas, who once spoke out against Grutas. What's more is he refused an invitation from Malinauskas to help design the park. But he converted after finally meeting Malinauskas at Grutas.

"You can't reject those past 50 years because intelligent people made art and it's still art, whatever its flaws are," says Bogdanas.

"My main theory is if you want to evaluate and discuss, you should see first," Malinauskas says in a serious tone. "I have plenty of time to solve problems with healthy people, but I don't care to speak to sick people."

Kerosierus refutes: I haven't seen the Incas civilization. I haven't seen the pyramids in Egypt. I haven't seen a single American city. But by reading the mythology, history and literature I became familiar and started to know these things. My family, like millions, was sent out, exploited and murdered by communists. And there's no measurement to describe all the loses that were not born because of the communists."

The park, says Kerosierus, is the plan of former communist leaders who seek a revival. Lithuania's parliament consists of 60 percent former communist officials, including its prime minister Algirdas Brazauskas. Many of these scarred politicians and communist sculptors attended the park's opening.

All parties agree on one fact: Malinauskas's growing collection of communist sculptures is a global rarity. Hungry is home to a sculpture square with 26 works, many of which are communism - themed. There's a social - realist sculpture gallery in neighboring Poland that boasts just one Lenin. Many cities in Eastern Europe have been deliberating and debating what to do with their unwanted communist statues for nearly a decade. In rural Russian many Lenins still stand strong, but in Baltic and Warsaw Pact nations the works are long gone. Some were sold to the West, while many remain in storage. One Latvian city decided to submerge its Lenin head in marshlands with an adjacent plaque about the mushrooming of evil. Another melted its bronze bust into souvenir bells now sold to tourists. The Helsinki Art Museum in Finland was set to purchase a Lenin for $8,600 until heated protests deterred officials.

There are currently 66 statues at Grutas. The first 44 were provided by the State while the reminder were purchased privately by Malinauskas. Among the highlights is the Lenin statue that once starred in Vilnius's main square. Russian sculptor Nikolai Tomski constructed the 6 - meter bronze bust in 1952. When a crane dismantled the standing Lenin in 1991, its legs snapped leaving a legless Lenin dangling in mid - air. This symbolic scene made its way onto international newspaper front pages the next morning. Malinauskas funded its restoration and the re - assembled Lenin now dominates the Grutas collection.

In fact, Malinauskas financed repairs for many of the statues, which were in poor condition following years of abandonment. A handful of works still bear scars from anti - communist protests, including blue and red paint, and an occasional fissure or dent.

The most famed repair came to a beheaded statue of Lenin and Vincas Kapsukas, leader of Lithuanian communist party. When the park first opened, the two heads rested on the ground beside their bodies. The statue, like many at Grutas, has a storied history. In 1979 the historic Vilnius University, the oldest in the entire USSR, awaited its 400th anniversary. The Soviets, less than anxious to tout the longevity of a non - Russian institution, didn't plan a celebration. When the Lithuanian delegation went to Moscow to ask how to handle the anniversary, Moscow officials - furthering their agenda - decided to unveil a sculpture of Lenin and Kapsukas, to represent the brotherhood of the republics.

Bogdanas, the sculptor, tells the story: "There were debates going on because the problem was both men were short but Lenin was ideologically higher. We had to solve this problem. The sculpture shows Lenin a little bit taller, and Kapsukas is more modest and asking for advice. It was a very typical order. I don't think it's a good piece of art. There is no beauty. It's just another ordered work for me. It was done quickly in two months. As soon as the government found out such a political aspect was given to the sculpture, the celebration was permitted and it was beautiful."

During communism, a city's population virtually always dictated the size of its Lenin statue, with larger cities receiving larger Lenins. The park exhibits Lenins from Lithuania's three largest cities, plus many small town works.

Grutas features one of only three sitting Lenins ever made. The monument once stood in Druskininkai, a small town just seven kilometers from Grutas, where today one of Malinauskas's sons is the mayor. The town is plagued by the nation's highest unemployment rate - more than 20 percent - a statistic that the social - conscious Lenin would find inexcusable.

There's a 3.6 - meter bronze statue of Maryte Melnykaite, a female Soviet partisan captured by Germans and pressed for secret information. When she refused to betray her beloved communist party, she was promptly murdered. Her loyalty earned her the famed "Name of Soviet Hero" award. Although Malinauskas doesn't know the value of his collection, he says one collector was prepared to pay $625,000 for Melnykaite before she was granted to Grutas.

One of the most unusual works at Grutas is Rusu Karys, or Russian Solider. The 3.8 - meter statue consists of aluminum and other metals from 23 German planes that were shot down by Soviets. It was crafted by German prisoners of war in 1947 and stood in Siauliai, a central Lithuanian city, during communism. Inside the monument is a bottle filled with names of the prisoners of war.

Malinauskas's favorite monument is the first to greet visitors. Kryzkalnio Motina, or Mother of the Cross Hill, rests on an island. The 4 - meter, 13 - ton realist bronze bust portrays Lithuanian's mother grieving for perished solders following Fascist rule from 1941 - 1945. She's also expressing gratitude to the Soviet Army that liberated the land. She stood beside a Lithuanian highway from 1972 and survived a bomb in 1991. Bronius Vysniauskas spent two years creating the Mother. Today, the 78 year-old lives in Vilnius.


"The most important thing about the park isn't to let these statues disappear. The park has saved 50 years of our sculpture school," he says.

For most of the 20th century Lithuanian sculpture has been dominated by politics. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917 the Soviet art school was quite avant - garde and one of the world's best. Then, social - realism, "social on the inside and realistic on the outside," flourished from 1932, after Soviet writers deemed it the most effective style for controlling the public.

In the USSR, social - realism was the sole artistic option in the first decade after the Second World War until Stalin's death in 1953. During this period - the strictest under communism - mass deportations were at a maximum. In turn, artists complied with State demands and produced in a naturalist, academic style - they wouldn't dare to even dream of abstract art - throughout all Soviet republics.

At a 1956 communist party meeting, Nikita Khrushchev apologized for Stalin's brutality. A suddenly looser government permitted artists to adapt more creativity, and eventually an impressionist element hit the Lithuanian scene. While Russian sculptors remained loyal realists, Lithuanian sculptors started receiving noted recognition of their progressive adaptations.

"Sculpture during this time was the strongest part of art in the Baltics We were the best ones. Lithuanians just had the blood for sculpting," says Vysniauskas.

By 1970, Lithuanian sculpture incorporated doses of modern art such as expressionism and fauvism and although still in the realist realm, Lithuania art was less detail - conscious. Artists, including poets and writers, could finally personalize their craft without fearing Siberia.

Still, during virtually all of communism, orders were demanded from Moscow to the Lithuanian Culture Ministry's Sculpture Council. Only proven artists and loyal communists would receive the high honor of creating a Lenin statue.

"The most important things is there was no artistic freedom. Even a conversation like this would end up with who would be the first to go," said Bogdanas.


Surrounded by dozens of his famed sensitive portraits, Bogdanas sits in his tiny studio in Vilnius. He is asked one simple question: how many Lenins have you made? He waves his arms and chuckles, "many, many" says the 75 - year - old with a thin gray beard. He lived comfortably during communism solely because he played the political game. After studying at the Imperial Russian Art Academy in Leningrad, he served as the president of the Sculpture Council for 10 years, and spent eight years in the communist parliament. At age 60 he was awarded the highest honor, a Lenin Medal.

"You need to live under the Russian occupation to understand what it's like. My art colleagues from other nations asked me why I did these works. If you didn't agree to do it, they would either kill you or send you to Siberia. Naturally the entire culture was declared as a tool for propaganda. If you wanted to do something for yourself, art for yourself, you had to also give a tribute to the ideology. People should be humanistic and forgive those who sometimes created works that were against their real values."

Bogdanas - between sips of his homemade alcohol that tastes like cough syrup - says all works were heavily censored during communism, but the entire Council meticulously inspected important orders. He recalls one statue that nearly sent him to Siberia. He fulfilled a secret assignment from a church and before mounting the bust, he placed a religious note inside, an illegal act in itself. Someone found the note, which prompted a KGB investigation. The church's priest was questioned, but he refused to tell authorities that the distinguished Bogdanas was responsible for the letter. The result: the priest was sent to Siberia and Bogdanas never saw him again.

Today, Bogdanas still creates realist works, such as a precise portrait of Lithuania's democratic president Valdas Adamkus. In 1995 he sculpted the world's only bust of rock legend Frank Zappa - it now stands in Vilnius - after a request from a young Lithuanian who sought to test his nation's newly found freedom.

Malinauskas, with similar intentions, views his park as a sign of Lithuania's democratic progress. The sculptures, once uselessly resting in a desolate backyard, are now a source of education for thousands of visitors. Depending, of course, on whom you ask.



© copyright 2007 Adam B Ellick | All Rights Reserved | site credits and colophon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:50 pm 
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I will post a photo of Dr Bogdanas in my next post
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I find the 'Soviet heroes' in the background rather amusing

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:08 pm 
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Look at all of us, a big crowd from Vilnius celebrating 'freedom loving peoples' with Zappa as our symbolic totem. Even the kids wrapped up like Maggie as winter Starfish (in the Simpsons) I thought at the time I hoped the Zappa family would approve of the desire and hopes of these people, as I think they did what they did, and hit it right on the button.
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Dr Bogdanas is the man in furry grey epalettes, with matching grey hat clutching a well deserved bunch of flowers. Saulis Pukstis is with his daughter Marge and Maggie style, and is on Konstantinas's LEFT.

Has anyone got an image of Maggie in her winter wear

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 Post subject: Zappa of 3 Heads.
PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:02 pm 
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Happy all fools day.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:06 pm 
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There are only 4 Lithuanians in this picture not including the chicken.
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 Post subject: The date of Ceremony.
PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:05 pm 
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I have consulted my old passport, I arrived in Vilnius 15th Dec 1995 and left 20th Dec. The Ceremony must have been the 16th Dec.

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 Post subject: Alchemists lab
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Turning'Penzil Lead'into bronze.

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Cool photos mate. :D

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Uh yeah, great!

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2008 12:28 pm 
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Just found this on AP website, from about an hour ago. I am confused, does he say that GZ has tacitly given approval, and phone calls with attorney have not been returned? I know Saulis Pukstis from 1995, so I wonder what he is up to.
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Baltimore offered native Frank Zappa bust; will they accept?
By BEN NUCKOLS – 1 hour ago

BALTIMORE (AP) — Frank Zappa, who sang about "Plastic People," has been cast in bronze. Again.

In 1995, a quirky bunch of Lithuanian artists and intellectuals managed to erect a bust of the eccentric rocker in downtown Vilnius, the capital of the former Soviet republic.

Now, they want to place a replica in Zappa's hometown.

Saulius Paukstys, longtime president of a Zappa fan club, was in Baltimore on Wednesday to pitch the Zappa bust to the city's public art commission.

"It's carved already, and it's ready to be shipped to the U.S.," said Arturas Baublys, a public relations consultant and Zappa admirer who made the trip with Paukstys. "Whenever Baltimore says, 'OK,' and gives us an address to ship it to, we pack it and we ship it on our costs. And that's a nation of three and a half million giving a present to the United States."

Before the initial sculpture was erected, there was no known connection between Zappa and Lithuania. The mustachioed, antiestablishment musician was born in Baltimore to an Italian immigrant father and died of prostate cancer in 1993 at age 52, never having visited the Baltic state.

But his music was popular among the Lithuanian avant-garde, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the country's independence in 1990 from the Soviet Union. Paukstys, an art photographer, launched the fan club and even set up an art exhibit with imagined correspondence between himself and Zappa, whom he had never met.

The club commissioned the bust from Konstantinas Bogdanas, a respected sculptor who cast many portraits of Lenin during the Soviet era. And members managed to persuade the mayor and city council to place it in a public square, in front of the Belgian embassy.

"It was just four years after independence," Paukstys said through Baublys, who translated from Lithuanian. "The opportunity for this Zappa statue was also like a trial for the new system and the newly established democracy, if that (was) possible or not."

Paukstys and Baublys hope for a similar friendly response from Baltimore, where last year Mayor Sheila Dixon proclaimed Aug. 9 as "Frank Zappa Day."

Vilnius Mayor Juozas Imbrasas sent a letter to Dixon asking her to accept the gift.

"I hope that replication of the original statue of Frank Zappa in Vilnius and bringing it to Baltimore will perpetuate the memory of one of the greatest artists of the (20th) century," Imbrasas wrote.

Baublys estimated the cost of creating and shipping the bust at $50,000. The city would be responsible for installation and maintenance at a yet-to-be determined location.

He said the project has the blessing of Zappa's widow, Gail, who as head of the Zappa Family Trust has been protective of her late husband's image and music. Gail Zappa's attorney did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment, and an agents for two of Zappa's sons, Dweezil and Ahmet, did not return phone calls.

Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for Dixon, said the mayor had no objection to the bust but would defer to the judgment of the public art commission. He noted that Zappa belongs in the pantheon of Baltimore's famously offbeat favorite sons and daughters.

"Like John Waters and a lot of artists we're proud of," Clifford said, "it's a big deal that Frank Zappa is from Baltimore."

On the Net:
Frank Zappa: http://www.zappa.com
Vilnius tourism: http://www.vilnius-tourism.lt/topic.php?tid68&aid593
Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts: http://www.promotionandarts.org/index.c ... uncil&id21
Hosted by Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've just re-read it again, Saulis may have had a response from GZ or their Attorney. Yes, I was told in 1995 that he convinced everyone that he met Zappa in the US, so that cat is out of the bag that it was a conceit of some kind. Fair play to Saulis, I like his style the man is an artist.

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 Post subject: what's new in ...
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2008 3:11 pm 
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Quote:
baltimore's public art commission voted unanimously today to accept
a bronze bust of zappa offered as a gift by a group of fans from lithuania

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'Mencken of rock' to be honored: City to accept statue of Baltimore-born rocker from far-flung fans
By Jonathan Pitts, The Baltimore Sun
8 May 2008
The Baltimore Sun (MCT)



May 8--"What's new in Baltimore?" Frank Zappa used to sing at the end of a long, characteristically off-the-wall rock jam he called Clowns on Velvet.

What's new in Baltimore, the city in which the late rock star was born in 1940, is evidently a public sculpture of Zappa himself, and the strange tale behind the 15-foot statue that a public art panel accepted as a gift to the city last night is as incongruous as Zappa's genre-bending music career.

TD


Most Baltimoreans are aware of their hometown's claim on Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken and John Waters, but fewer know that Zappa, who made more than 50 records between the late 1950s and his death in 1993, was born in Baltimore, the son of immigrants from Sicily.

His family lived in the 4600 block of Park Heights Ave., then moved to Edgewood in Harford County. Zappa's father, a chemist and mathematician, had a job nearby at Aberdeen Proving Ground. They moved to California when Frank was 10.

Until they met last night, some members of the Baltimore Public Art Commission, which voted unanimously to accept the gift of the bronze sculpture -- valued at about $50,000 -- were also unaware of Zappa's connection to Charm City.

However, the donors of the bust, who come from much farther afield -- in fact, from a nation Zappa never visited -- are well aware of his background.

"We're honored to have a chance to present this Frank Zappa monument to the city of Baltimore," said Saulius Paukstys, 43, the president of one of the biggest and arguably most dedicated Frank Zappa fan clubs in, of all places, the Republic of Lithuania. "As an artist, and much more than that, he has meant a great deal to the Lithuanian people."

If Zappa has been something of an unknown prophet in his own land, people like Paukstys, a photographer, have long held him in high regard as a symbol of free expression in the post-Cold War former Soviet bloc.

"Before 1990, you have to remember, [Lithuanians] could not criticize society," Paukstys said through an interpreter. "Frank Zappa was a voice of freedom."

After 1990, when Western music became available in their home country, Paukstys and friends like Saulius Pilinkus, an art historian, often gathered to listen to Zappa's music. The fan club they started eventually numbered more than 300. Most were well-educated aesthetes who appreciated the fact that Zappa was more than a rock-and-roll star: He was a symphonic composer, a fact that appealed to a people whose love of classical music is part of their history.

In 1995, Paukstys was so determined to commemorate Zappa's creativity that he claimed to have enjoyed a personal correspondence with Zappa, whom he'd met on a visit to the United States.

The fact that such a correspondence never happened didn't deter the thousands of Lithuanians who crowded an exhibition of the letters in Vilnius, the nation's capital.

The event created momentum toward the Zappa fan club's main goal: getting a bust of the musician made and put up for permanent display. In 1995, the Vilnius city council signed on to the plan. Kontantinas Bogdanas, the nation's best-known sculptor, created a bronze Zappa head, which was mounted on a stainless steel column in a Vilnius park.

"It was a test of Lithuania's [new] freedom," Paukstys told Rolling Stone magazine in 2002. The Zappa monument is still the second most popular tourist site in Vilnius.

In time, the fan club decided to commission a replica of the piece and donate it to Zappa's home country. Their first idea was to offer it to Los Angeles, where Zappa lived for many years before his death, at 52, of prostate cancer.

But by the time the replica was complete, Carlos Aranaga, a State Department official who grew up in Baltimore, was working at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius and got wind of the project.

"I'm proud of Baltimore's cultural heroes," said Aranaga, now stationed in Washington. "Mencken, Eubie Blake. To Lithuanians, Zappa is like the Mencken of rock -- a true iconoclast."

At Aranaga's suggestion, a contingent headed by Paukstys targeted Baltimore.

Gail Zappa, the musician's widow, has said she avidly supports placing the sculpture in Baltimore, where her late husband's quirky views of life fit with the work of such great local artists as John Waters.

Anne Perkins, chair of the city's Public Art Commission, said last night that her panel, which was launched last August, is still working out formal criteria by which to accept gifts of public art. The city must fund installation and upkeep, decide what gifts are appropriate and select sites that work.

But the same commission that recently had numerous questions that stalled plans for a statue of former Mayor and Gov. William Donald Schaefer proposed for the city's Inner Harbor had no trouble approving the Lithuanian project. As part of his presentation, Paukstys screened a video of an April 10 concert at which Lithuanian jazz, classical and rock musicians performed Zappa's music in Vilnius.

"We're having a good time here!" Perkins exclaimed.

Board members satisfied themselves that the statue would call for limited maintenance and that Zappa was a true cultural native son.

"He's part of a rich history of musicians from Baltimore, some of whom the general public doesn't know about," panelist Steve Ziger said.

Ziger suggested making the monument part of a collection of similarly themed sculptures. Others suggested the cultural corridor near the Washington Monument, green space near the Baltimore Museum of Art and the North Station Arts District as possible sites. Panelists also supported the idea of a commemorative concert when the statue is unveiled.

As the credits on the film rolled, and the general applause died down, Paukstys and his interpreter, Arturas Baublys, who return to Lithuania today, said they could have the already completed statue packed and ready for shipping within 10 days.

"The only risk I see in Baltimore," Baublys said, "is the seagulls. That could be a problem. Otherwise, we couldn't be more thrilled."

jonathan.pitts@baltsun.com


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 Post subject: Gail exercises her Veto
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 6:48 pm 
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The latest AP reports that Gail has emailed them [AP] with her approval for the sculpture, she has said that the Zappa Club have gone about with their project in the correct manner with respect for the composer. I have always thought that the sculpture was a dignified piece, and the 'tone' of the artwork was right on the button. I generally blanch at sculpture of Rock and Roll, as they are sleazy, camp, kitch and appalling. When I was in Lithuania in '95 it struck me that there was a tradition of public arts despite the communist era, I particularly liked some of the figurative beaten copper panel work in front of some buildings. I would add to what Gail said in her email, that the Lithuanians showed a genuine affection toward FZ, I think I said it at the unveiling when I crashed the party!

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:39 pm 
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I have wondered why no news about the Vilnius bust of FZ to be replicated in Baltimore - I have just received an email from the Mayor. Please give whatever support you can

Dear Deepinder:



Thank you for your message. The Frank Zappa bust has yet to be shipped from Vilnius, and the Baltimore Public Art Commission has narrowed it down to two possible sites for the statue. The Commission next meets on December 17, 2008, and they will vote on a location at that time. In the meantime, feel free to contact the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts at the contact information below.



Thank you for taking the time to write and for your interest in Baltimore City.



Sincerely,



Sheila Dixon

Mayor

City of Baltimore





Contact Information:

Ms. Kim Domanski

Public Art Coordinator

Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts

7 East Redwood Street, Suite 500

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Direct Telephone: 443-263-4340

Main Office Telephone: 410-752-8632

kdomanski@promotionandarts.com

www.promotionandarts.com

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