konstantinas bogdanas

 

 

The picture on the right shows the sculpture of Frank Zappa that you can findin Vilnius, Lithuania.

It was made by Konstantinas Bogdanas, a Lithuanian sculptor who was known for portraits of Lenin.

 

 


from The Guardian:

http://music.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2279205,00.html

Lithuania presents Baltimore with a Frank Zappa statue

Sean Michaels
Friday May 9, 2008

When we were last in eastern Europe, we almost made a sidetrack to Vilnius. We were enticed by Lithuania's fascinating history and rich cultural heritage. But mostly we just wanted to see their statue of Frank Zappa's head.

Now, at last, Baltimore is taking a page from Vilnius' book.
Thirteen years ago, a band of plucky Lithuanian intellectuals pooled their funds, solicited their friends, and built a bronze bust of the musical iconoclast. Saulius Paukstys, longtime president of a Zappa fanclub, even convinced authorities that the statue should be erected in downtown Vilnius, in front of the Belgian embassy.

Zappa had died of cancer just two years before, in 1993, but Lithuania's capital city was an odd place for a tribute. Zappa was not, after all, Lithuanian (or Belgian, for that matter). He had never even visited the place. But his music was dearly loved by the avant-garde hipsters in the Lithuanian independence movement - and these same intellectuals were the ones running the show after the Baltic state declared independence from Russia in 1990.

"The opportunity for this Zappa statue was also like a trial for the new system and the newly established democracy," Paukstys explained to the Associated Press this week.

Before long the Zappa bust had become Vilnius' second-most popular tourist attraction (behind the rather-less-quirky Museum of Genocide Victims).

This week, Paukstys journeyed to Baltimore, USA, to make an offer to Frank Zappa's hometown: would Baltimore like a bronze Zappa-head of its own? Baltimore's Public Art Commission voted unanimously to accept the gift. "I think it's incredibly generous," said commissioner Steve Ziger. "I find the piece a good piece of art that I think we would be honoured to have here. We just need to find an appropriate placement."

Paukstys and his comrades had already arranged for the casting of a replica, and were just awaiting the OK from Baltimore authorities before shipping it across the ocean. The cost of creating and shipping the bust is estimated at $50,000 (25,000), but the city will be responsible only for installation and maintenance.

Vilnius's mayor, Juozas Imbrasas, said he approved heartily of the project. "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," he wrote. Frank Zappa's widow, Gail, is also understood to have given her blessing.

All that Baltimore needs now is a better source of Lithuanian dumplings.

 

 

-
from The Baltimore Sun

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.to.zappa08may08,0,5820362.story

City to accept Frank Zappa statue
15-foot bust of Baltimore-born rocker offered as gift by fans in Lithuania

 

This undated photo provided by Saulius Paukstys, shows a cast used to create a replica of a bust of musician Frank Zappa in an art studio in Vilnius, Lithuania. The original bust, which typically sits in a public square in Vilnius, can be seen in the background. (AP photo / May 7, 2008)

By Jonathan Pitts | Sun reporter

    May 8, 2008

"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.

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."

 

 

 

 

-- info:  hj


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