www.kamane.lt, 2008 03 03

In brief: Kaunas Branch of the Lithuanian Artists’ Union started a cycle of cultural discussions initiated by the chairman of the branch Eugenijus Nalevaika. As February was coming to an end, the first meeting at a round table took place during which the problem of Kaunas creative and exhibition spaces was analysed. Representatives of the Artists’ Union, Art Photographers’ Union, Folk Artists’ Union, National M.K. Čiurlionis Art Museum, Kaunas County Library, various art galleries and city authorities gathered for a discussion and shared their ideas ardently. The record of the discussion is presented in the article.

Kotryna Džilavjanaitė, art critic of the Artists’ Union, Kaunas Branch: “The topic of this discussion should be urgent not only to artists of various fields but also to organisers of art projects, strategists of the cultural situation of the city. Today we do not have exhibition spaces suitable for representation in Kaunas. The lack becomes very prominent when large art events take place in the city. Project curators are forced to use all possible spaces, even if they are not favourable strategically and are technically non-adapted for exhibitions.

The roads to prestigious exhibition halls at the Picture Gallery or M.Žilinskas Gallery of the National M.K. Čiurlionis Art Museum are not many – Kaunas artists may rarely exhibit works there. Moreover, attention of the society was attracted last year by the dilemma the museum had to solve, when Prof. A. Miškinis granted his collection to Kaunas.”

Kristina Civinskienė, head of the Exhibitions Department of the National M.K.Čiurlionis Art Museum: “M.Žilinskas gallery is focused on international exhibitions, and only the lower hall is open for temporary exhibitions at the Picture gallery for Kaunas artists. Usually large projects are presented in it. Artists may also exhibit works at A. Žmuidzinavičiaus (Devils) Museum. Much place is occupied by the collection of A.Miškinis on the third floor at the Picture Gallery. Due to this reason artists and the museum suffer from problems. The lack of visitors is felt.”

Arvydas Brazdžiūnas-Dusė, painter: “Perhaps exhibitions should be organised and changed more frequently, every three weeks, for instance, rather than once in several months.”

Arvydas Žalpys, director of the gallery Meno Parkas: “The second largest city of Lithuania, which has huge creative potential is similar to an orphan. Kaunas needs a rather large art centre where art, photography, music, dance and cinema projects could be presented.”

Rūtilis Slavėnas, painter: “I would like to speak about creative workshops. I have heard that no artist who is a member of the Artists’ Union received a workshop for creation. I am painting for 20 years but do not have where to work. My work has stopped as I do not have possibilities to rent or buy a workshop. Why isn't anybody solving this problem?”

D. Draugelienė, secretary of the Artists’ Union, Kaunas Branch: “Our Estonian colleagues have a perfect example how to turn old buildings into creative spaces. They furnished exhibition spaces in a former Salt warehouse investing only little money into the decoration of the interior and restoring only the exteriors. There are many falling buildings in Kaunas old town, still, we have to coordinate our ideas with heritage protection institutions. Hanza warehouse is located at the Nemunas River – it could be turned into an exhibition centre.”

J. Šlivinskas: “The mayor’s office does not know what military buildings of Šančiai should be used for - they are also falling apart. Why some of them are not tidied up and rented for artists?”

Stasys Buškevičius, deputy mayor of Kaunas for sports and culture: “The problem is being discussed for ten years already, and nothing has been done. I offer to artists to write a collective letter and to turn to the architect Eugenijus Miliūnas asking him to correct the project of the sports and entertainment arena in the Nemunas island planning gallery premises in the building. If there are one or two pizzerias less in the future arena, culture will only win. Another idea of using old buildings is also interesting. You should agree what buildings, in your opinion, are the most suitable for creative activity and you should turn to me with particular offers.”

Valentinas Jazerskas, chairman of the Lithuanian Folk Artists’ Union, Kaunas Section: “I also have one particular offer. There is Girstutis Cultural Centre in Kaunas, which belongs to the city. The gallery of the centre operates on the principle of goodwill – there is nobody to supervise exhibitions there. Still, there is a rather good space in the lobby of the second floor. The gallery could operate and very little is missing: one additional full-time position and the indication of the city municipality that the centre should organise exhibitions as a mandatory field of activity.”

Rimantė Tamoliūnienė, head of cultural events of Kaunas County Library: “Talking about goodwill, the library lets in artists with pleasure – we only need exhibition equipment and suitable lighting. The library is favourable to exhibitions – we receive 800 visitors per day, and they see exhibitions either they wish it or not.”

Prepared by Kotryna Džilavjanaitė

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