17,000 visitors saw Siberia Souls

Siberia Souls on display at Fountain Street Church.

Siberia Souls was exhibited at ArtPrize, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is the largest competitive art exhibit in the world. The exhibit took place at Fountain Street Church in downtown Grand Rapids, in September and October 2016. The exhibit was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A total of 17,000 visitors saw Siberia Souls! The turnout was, to say the least, stunning!

 

Columns of Dreams for a wedding

Interpretation of Dreams: Freud

The exhibit, Columns of Dreams, at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Chicago, was simply magnificent. The light sculptures, themselves, fit beautifully, and elegantly, into the stunning interior of this classic church. They also reflected the intense colors of the stained glass windows. A sense of the wonder of this exhibit can been seen in the YouTube video by clicking here.

This two week exhibit was extended to a full two months, running through October and November, 2016. This extension was in part to satisfy the request of Connie Mixon and Wally Braunschweig, who were married with the Columns of Dreams as a background to their marriage ceremony. They both have suffered neurologic difficulties, thus making these art works particularly salient.

May their future years together be filled with love, wonder, and endless dreams.

 

Local press responds to Siberia Souls

The Siberia Souls exhibit, at the Beverly Unitarian Church, in Chicago, took place in October and November 2016. This exhibit accompanied a parallel exhibit which took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, as part of ArtPrize. The timing of these exhibits was incredible–they immediately preceded the US presidential election. The purpose of Siberia Souls was to remind the general public that demagoguery and inhumanity, on a mass scale, can take place here, in the US. Indeed, the results of this election have led to a attempts to start mass apprehensions and deportations. It is only the court system that has put a halt to these demagogic actions. Hitler and Stalin are being resurrected right here in the US–just in time for Easter! Thus, Siberia Souls was a prophetic exhibit.

The amount of local press coverage that this exhibit received is very gratifying. These evaluations can be found in the Art Reviews section of this website.

The Beverly Unitarian Church is notable–it is the only castle in the Chicago metropolitan area. It was an honor to be invited to give a Sunday’s sermon at the castle.

Siberia Souls and the American Civil Liberties Union

Siberia Souls: Children (details)

Two simultaneous showings of Siberia Souls will take place at art exhibits sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Fountain Street Church will exhibit these LED light sculptures in an exhibit themed about social justice. A total of 18 artists have been invited to participate. This will take place as part of ArtPrize, the world’s largest competitive art exhibit. It fully takes over the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a month. The ACLU was involved in the definition and selection process of this exhibit.

Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St N.E. Grand Rapids, MI, September 18 through October 10.  This exhibit will feature white-light LED sculptures. Opening reception is Sunday, September 18, 2 to 4 PM.

Beverly Unitarian Church, 10244 S. Longwood Drive, Chicago, IL,  will also exhibit Siberia Souls from September 16 through October 10. This exhibit will feature color-changing LED light sculptures. Opening reception is Friday, September 16, 7 to 9 PM.

If you can, please attend the opening celebrations. Otherwise, make sure to stop by and view the exhibits.

Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Akpaleeapik and Tatega, from A Walk Midnight June 17, 1980, Grise Fiord, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada, photograph 11 x 14 inches

This past weekend, as I was digging through my old files, I came across a series of correspondences with Chicago’s Art Institute and Museum of Contemporary Art. Collections of my photographically based art are in the permanent collections of these two museums! For any artist, having their work in the collections of important museums is an incredible accomplishment. How is it that I did not remember this accomplishment?

Well, this was the end of 1981 and start of 1982. I was arranging to relocate from the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, to work at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. This entailed several trips to Toronto for job interviews. Then, unraveling the complex and uncertain state my Canadian citizenship. Followed by arranging immigration and work-permit papers for my wife–which included many trips to the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis. Not to mention the birth of my daughter in early 1982, and her citizenship and immigration papers. Also, all of the paper work about moving a household to Canada, and making all of the arrangements by U-Haul. And all of this as I was working 60 hour work weeks!

It is not surprising that I forgot this correspondence. What is amazing is that I found the time to arrange for my art to be in these institutions. Boy, was I energetic!

I cannot help but wonder: if I had placed this information on my art resume 35 years ago, might not my artistic career have been much more successful? As they say, “better late than never.”

From A Walk Midnight June 17, 1980, Grise Fiord, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada, photograph 11 x 14 inches

Blue Consciousness at center of Blue Man Group PR campaign

Blue Consciousness was commissioned by the Blue Man Group’s Briar Street Theater in Chicago, three years ago. The piece is 10 x 10 feet in size and was placed on the building’s south-facing exterior. It is easily view-able day and night, since spot lights illuminate it. A smaller version is in the entrance lobby to the theater.

Well, the three-year run has been great! The Blue Men have decided to install a new set of art works. Of interest is their advertisement for this competition, which appears on the Chicago Artists Resource website. Blue Consciousness is the center of their PR campaign!

Columns of Dreams at Trinity Methodist

Interpretation of Dreams: Freud, on display at TUMC, as the LED color lights change

Trinity United Methodist Church, 9848 S. Winchester Ave., is located in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago. Last weekend I was invited to display Columns of Dreams. The pieces were placed around the altar, and near several of the stained glass windows.

We could not be human without our aspirations, hopes, and dreams. It is only through dreams that our imaginations take hold, and progress takes place.

The columns included one dedicated to Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. This included a hand-written passage which explained the fear of falling. This section is possibly the only commonsense, non-psychoanalytic part of his book.

Another one included my own dream of a horrific event. At exactly the same time, an identical event took place to my daughter, who was visiting Milan, Italy, but her event was real, not imaginary. Coincidences do not happen. For that time period, my daughter, who was on the other side of the world, and I, were united.

Two other columns dealt with the creative application of dreams—images and passages from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and images from the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. Since all of Bosch’s art was created for church settings, it was very appropriate to incorporate his dreams into this installation.

A total of eight different Columns of Dreams will be displayed at TUMC during Beverly’s Art Walk on Saturday, October 1, 2016, from noon to 7 PM.

Michigan Illuminated Thoughts reviewed in San Diego

Caption from The San Diego Union-Tribune:  Kylie Luttrell, 8, left, of Custer and her sister, Alex, 11, looks at Illuminated Thoughts by Audrius Plioplys in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during ArtPrize, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Illuminated Thoughts, an installation of eight LED, color-changing light columns, was displayed as part of ArtPrize 7 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize is the largest competitive art exhibit in the world. It took place in September and October, 2015. Only recently I learned of an Associated Press article in The San Diego Union-Tribune on October 9, 2015.

In this article, only three art works were reproduced–the largest image being that of Illuminated Thoughts. Given that there were several thousand art works, by over 1,500 artists, on display, this is truly an honor.

The full review can by found in the art reviews section this website.

There is no freedom without constraints

This summer and fall, when you drive into West Chicago, Illinois, the first street banner that you see is my art work “Constraints / Freedom”. This is one of 17 banners on public display as part of the city’s cultural festival. You can find this 5 ft tall piece on Main Street, just east of the intersection with Chicago Avenue.

The pieces for this installation were anonymously judged by Chicago-based artist and Assistant Professor of Photography at Northeastern Illinois University, Nate Matthews. “Seventeen exceptional works were chosen” according to the city’s Cultural Arts Commission posting.

Freedom cannot exist without constraints. This concept seems to be an obvious one. However, given the Congressional decisions and political statements, during this US federal election season, it seems to be ignored, to the detriment of all of us.

Siberia Souls at ArtPrize

Siberia Souls: Children (details)

ArtPrize is the world’s largest competitive art exhibit. It takes over the entire city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the fall.

Siberia Souls LED light sculpture installation has been selected for display at a  centrally located venue, the historic Fountain Street Church, which last year had over 17,000 visitors.

In collaboration with The American Civil Liberties Union, Fountain Street has organized “Art to Change the World: Inspiring Social Justice.” Art plays an important role as an agent for social and economic justice, and peace in the world. It is an honor to have Siberia Souls included in this exhibit.

I organized the Hope and Spirit project to commemorate the victims of Stalin’s mass deportations. Due to my efforts over 400 long-lost letters and photographs, sent from Siberia, were found, and the tragic family stories revealed. In Siberia Souls I incorporate these photographs and letters. Further information can be found here, and a YouTube video viewed here.

Art must address pressing political issues. In Hope and Spirit, I tried to inform the general public of Stalin’s atrocities–if history is forgotten, it will repeat itself. That is currently taking place with the rise of demagoguery and hatred–Germany of the 1930′s is reappearing here, in the US.

Lithuanian army delivers art

Photograph: Lithuanian army

In the Lithuanian city of Marijampole, an expansive and modernistic cultural center was opened in 1991. Since then it has been deemed the best cultural center in Lithuania. The scope, diversity and quality of the artistic programming there is truly impressive. Sixteen of my art works will be on permanent display at the Marijampole Cultural Center. The pieces were matted and framed in Vilnius.

Problem: how to deliver these art works.

Solution: the Lithuanian army was mobilized!

The army picked up and delivered these pieces a week ago!

Zypliai manor art display

18 of my art works, including large scale ones, have recently been permanently installed in a historic Eastern European mansion. Since origins are dear to my heart, I shall digress into a segment of European history.

In 1807 Lithuania was occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon gave a large track of land to Juozapas Poniatovskis. When he died in 1813, the holdings were inherited by Poniatovskis’ sister, Terese Tiskeviciene. The Zypliai holdings included 155 villages and 15,600 acres of forest. The actual Zypliai manor had about 40 acres of land.

The holdings went through several ownerships until the manor was purchased by Count Tomas Potockis. Between 1891-1901 he rebuilt the mansion, making it two stories. In 1897 the wooden farm buildings burned down and had to be re-built.

One of the most popular and beautiful museums in Lithuania is the Amber Museum in Palanga. This mansion was built in 1897-1902 by Count Feliksas Tiskevicius. The design was by the German architect Franz Heinrich Schwechten. The surrounding botanical gardens were by the landscape architect Eduard Fancois Andre. Given the geographic proximity, the similarity in architectural design, and the identical dates of the buildings, the Zypliu mansion must have been designed by these same architects.

After the count’s death in 1912 and the manor became a seminary. Between WWI and WWII the mansion was used as an agriculture school, and after 1945 by a collective farm board.

The buildings were eventually abandoned and suffered much damage. In 2002 Vidas Cikanas started the arduous process of restoring the estate. The renovations were completed in 2014. The mansion hosts exhibits, art displays, concerts, lectures and symposia. It is visited by 10,000 visitors each year.

The largest room in the mansion is on the first floor, just off the main entrance. It serves as a reception and conference room. It is in this room that my art works decorate all of the walls. The display is, modestly speaking, magnificent.

Columns of Thought at ArtPrize

Reflected details of Illuminated Thoughts installation.

ArtPrize, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is one of the largest competitive, international art exhibits in the world. I was fortunate in being selected to display eight of my LED color-changing light sculptures in a centrally located art gallery. This installation of freely standing columns is called Illuminated Thoughts.

There are three separate series which comprise this installation: Columns of Thought, Writing, and Art. Further information about these series can be found in the light sculpture section of this website’s Online Gallery.

ArtPrize is a unique art festival with hundreds of participating artists at venues all over the city. Besides art exhibits there are performances, lectures, concerts and events for the entire family. It is one of the world’s premier art exhibits and art fairs.

From the ArtPrize website: “Three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids become an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown, and it’s all free and open to the public. It’s unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”

ArtPrize took place in September and October 2015. My installation was at the First Park Congregational Church, 10 East Park Place NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The church had just completed a $2 million expansion in order to have space for art installations.

Reflected details of Alice’s Dreamscape.

Columns of Thought on permanent display

Columns of Thought, entrance lobby of the Beverly Arts Center, Chicago. Columns have LED color changing lights, three archival-quality printed layers of images, 65 inches tall.

Over the past two years, I have been working to transform my art from 2-dimensional paintings to 3-dimensional light sculptures which I call Illuminated Thoughts.

In April 2015, three of my Columns of Thought were installed for permanent display in the entrance lobby of the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago. They continue to be on display there currently.

With the video-graphic assistance of Rytis Januska (TVS Digital Media) we have produced five YouTube videos dealing with each of the separate series of light sculptures. Links to these videos can be found on this website’s Video tab.

Columns of Thought are free-standing, independent, light-emitting structures, paralleling our own human existence.

Dreamscapes deals with the origins of dreaming, of fantasy, of creativity.

Color Symphony is a sequence of works where the primary investigation is how changing colors affect our visual perception.

Midwest Souls and Siberia Souls deal with immortality and remembering the past.

The videos are only three minutes long, and are quite entertaining and educational.

Illuminated Thoughts: premier exhibit of light sculptures

Dreamscapes, three-layered, archival quality prints on polycarbonate, back-lit with LED color changing light system. 27 x 7 x 7 inches. Photo credit: Ausrine Plioplys.

Illuminated Thoughts was the premier showing of almost two years of work on a new form of artistic expression. This exhibit consisted of 14 of my new art works, all LED light sculptures. The images were printed on three separate layers of polycarbonate to parallel the three layers of our own thought processes: conscious, subconscious and unconscious.

There are several difference sequences on display. Color Symphony and Dreamscapes address how our neurally-based color perception is markedly modified by changes in the background color of light.

The Souls series investigates immortality. In Chicago Souls, photographic portraits of Chicago residents from the 1890’s were incorporated in the images. In a sense, you can remain immortal if others remember you. Our memories are stored in our neural networks. These pieces include my own neural networks, brain waves and brain scans. They are an attempt to bring back to memory, back to life, individuals from the distant past.

In Siberia Souls a similar process takes place, but here the images are of my eight relatives who were deported from Lithuania to Siberia in the 1940’s by Stalin. The photographs were taken in Siberia.

This exhibit was on display from November 7, 2014 through February 2015, at the  Beverly Arts Center, Chicago.

Galaxy of the Brain at the University of Chicago

Aspirations / Contemplation, painting on canvas, 5 x 6 feet, Audrius V. Plioplys

The BRAIN-ART Initiative exhibit was very well received, and even was named Pick of the Week by the Chicago Tribune. The show ended at the Beverly Arts Center and moved to the University of Chicago hospitals. The title of the exhibit was changed to Galaxy of the Brain. This exhibit was displayed in the 2nd floor corridor link between the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine and the Center for Care and Discovery from November 1, 2014 through April 2015. The exhibit then moved to the 3rd floor link between the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery and the Gordon Center for Interactive Science, in May 2015 and continues to be on display there today.

The University’s art curator, Ms. Monica Hork, prepared a write-up for this exhibit which continues to be posted at the show. Here is the beautiful and poetic text:

Considering all the recent scientific and medical discoveries about the structure and function of the human brain, it is a timely subject ripe for creative exploration as well. This unique collection of work by 24 artists was organized by Audrius V. Plioplys in support of the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) and includes topics ranging from the artists whose ranks include neurosurgeons, stroke victims and caretakers who have much more than an aesthetic interest in the subject. This was originally exhibited as the BRAIN-ART Initiative at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago.

Since art is more about interpretation than scientific accuracy, the images evoke conceptual abstraction and emotional interaction. Each work engages the audience with an idea that contains the essential ingredients of our humanness. The physiological brain is the mechanical center of our thoughts, our feelings, our senses, our memories, our motions and our individuality. Brain activity is used to determine that we are alive from birth to death. In that context, artists look for meaning beyond function. That open ended search carries the work of scientists and doctors to another level, the spiritual level where we find purpose in our existence.

That is why the artistic interpretation of the brain is so vital and matters so much. The connection between the brain and our being is like no other in the known universe. It is our personal galaxy.

The University of Chicago, Medicine & Biological Sciences, Healing Arts Program.

BRAIN-ART Initiative reviewed on DNAinfo

Carla Winterbottom, curator of the Beverly Arts Center, and Audrius V. Plioplys in front of Lia Cook’s hand woven piece, Connectome, which won first place in the BRAIN-ART Initiative exhibit. Photo credit Howard A. Ludwig, DNAinfo.

On October 17, 2014, DNAinfo published a review by Howard Ludwig about the BRAIN-ART Initiative. According to my daughter, this is an extremely “hip” online publication. This is a very nice article. A link to it can be found in the art reviews section of my website and electronically on the DNAinfo website: BRAIN-ART On the Move.

The electronic link also contains a five minute interview with Howard.

If you could have a Warhol original, why choose a Plioplys?

Ritual / Solstice (5 x 12 ft; above) is a transformation of Stone Time Line, photodocumentation of an outdoor installation (14 x 11 in; below).

In the 1980′s I was represented by Fiterman Fine Arts in Minneapolis where I had individual art exhibits. The director of the gallery, Dolly Fiterman, purchased several of my pieces for her collection of contemporary art, which included Warhol, Lichtenstein and many works by Rauschenberg. Recently, she invited art curators from St. Thomas University in Minneapolis, to pick out pieces to add to their permanent collection. They chose two of my works, including Stone Time Line!

This installation was done in Grise Fiord, Ellesmere Island, in the high Canadian Arctic. This is the most northerly civilian settlement, and the most northerly of the Canadian islands. At high noon, on the Summer Solstice, in 1980, I placed seven stones, each one at the end of the shadow cast by the previous one. Hence the name, Stone Time Line.

When I asked the curator why she chose my pieces, she stated that the visual elements were exceptional, as was the philosophic content.

Transformations of this piece have been the visual basis for subsequent art works: Creative Thoughts / Tango and Ritual / Solstice (both are now also in the collection of St. Thomas University).

Blue Man Group, Blue Consciousness

The Blue Man Group had their first formal art competition. From the innumerable submissions, my piece, Blue Consciousness, was one of the six selected works. The other winners were:

Kathy Czopek, Blue Frenzy, from St. Louis, Missouri; Kuzana Ogg, Khshathra, from Bakersfield, California; Dan Olvera, FREN Z, from Chicago; Cody Rounds, Pulse, from Mahwah, New Jersey; Candace Wark and Shirley Nannini, Tangled All in Blue 5, from Chicago.

The unveiling was part of Chicago’s EXPO ART WEEK. After refreshments, the Blue Man Group performed a special 15 minute show, and then unveiled the art works. These are all 10 x 10 feet in size, installed outside on the building’s southern wall. The plan is to have the pieces displayed for 3 years.

Blue Man Group 2013 Art Competition and Exhibit, Briar Street Theater, 3133 N. Halsted, Chicago, Illinois, September 20, 2013–indefinite

Here is my verbal description of the piece:

The joyful essence of the Blue Man Group comes from unbridled creativity, imagination, teamed up with humor. This creativity arises from the interactions of our neurons–the interplay of their immensely tangled processes, coupled with stored associations, memories. In Blue Consciousness there are multiple layers of my own neurons, brain scans, and brain wave tracings overlying a transformed photograph I took of a polar bear on Beechy Island, in the Canadian high arctic. The images in these layers span many decades of experience. The polar bear is surrounded by blue ice, blue skies, blue consciousness.

Mirror Neurons and Oxford University Press

Today Oxford University Press published Michael Graziano’s book, Consciousness and the Social Brain. He is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University, and is a highly accomplished scientist and author. In this book he presents a novel theory about the origin of consciousness.

Of note is the cover the book:  Mirror Neurons. This is my 10 x 13 feet, wall mounted installation piece, which I described in a previous posting (please see below). It was installed in November, 2012, and continues to be on display at TB Studios in downtown Chicago.

FRAC Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur

A suite of my artist books from the late 1970′s and early 1980′s has found it’s way to this new contemporary art museum in southern France. The FRAC (Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain) Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur building was designed by Kengo Kuma and opened on March 22, 2013. This city is located 100 km northeast of Marseilles. There is a large section of this museum dedicated to artist books, where my pieces are on permanent, public display. How my works traveled there, I have no idea. These books documented walks that I had performed and photographed in Washington DC and in Minnesota. Given that they document outdoor performances, it is appropriate to also consider them environmental art works.

Samuel Beckett

Portrait of Samuel Beckett, 1977, mirrors on panel, Audrius V. Plioplys

With my art work evolving into conceptual installation pieces, which included windows, doors, mirrors, sound and light systems, a certain amount of theatricality was also evolving. In 1978 I corresponded with Samuel Beckett, who was living in Paris. I proposed that if he could write a play without actors, I could incorporate a recording of the text into one of my installation pieces. He was intrigued by the idea and wanted to collaborate, but at the time he was overwhelmed with commitments, and could not take on any new projects. Subsequent life events did not allow a resumption of this project.

“Some of the most creative art work”–Ivan Karp

Leo Castelli, Ivan Karp, Andy Warhol; portrait of Ivan Karp by Andy Warhol

In 1978 I had a chance to show slides and photographs of my art work to Ivan Karp, the director of the OK Harris gallery in Soho, New York. Along with Leo Castelli, Ivan Karp was the co-discoverer and promoter of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, amongst many others. I do not recall how I was able to have this celebrity of contemporary art spend an hour with me. At the end of the hour, his comment was: “This is some of the most creative art work I have ever seen.”

However, there was a problem. Given that my art work had evolved into environmental installation pieces, he did not feel that he could easily sell them. This was a problem with installation art works in 1978, as it continues to be in 2013. One of the admired window/light pieces did appear on the front cover of the Mayo Clinic’s Mayo Alumnus magazine.

Whirling

As part of the exhibit, Cosmic Consciousness, which took place in January and February, 2013, at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago, the four kinetic pieces of art, Whirling, were displayed. Further information about these pieces, and detailed images, can be seen in this website’s on-line art gallery and in the Cosmic Consciousness YouTube video.

Mirror Neurons

Mirror Neurons, 10 x 13 feet, TB Studios, Chicago, Illinois, November, 2012

Alvydas Pakarklis invited me along with other artists to participate in a flash art exhibit, at the studios of Tauras Bublys. The title of the exhibit is Reflections from the Bottom of a Well. I used my thought fragments to create the site-specific installation piece, Mirror Neurons.

Mirror neurons were first discovered by Italian neurophysiologists in the 1980′s. In studying the movement controlling neurons, in the cerebral cortex of monkeys, they found neurons that participated in active movements, such as reaching for an object. They also responded, in a similar electrophysiologic fashion, to monkeys seeing that same movement performed by another. This confirmed observation in animals and in humans, led to the concept that mirror neurons are responsible for us having empathy for others. If our neurons respond to our own activities, and similarly respond to activities we see performed by others, the network instantly produces empathic understanding. Thus, empathy emerges from networks of these mirror neurons. The “Theory of Mind” arose from these concepts. In clinical neurology, there are many theorists who feel that a deficiency in the functioning of mirror neurons may be a cause of autism. This link to autism is very speculative, but worthy of serious attention.

In creating this installation I wanted to include a sense of mirror actions and of movement. The elliptical loops suggest whirling, the course of planetary motion, the endless loops of reverberation within our own memories.