Siberia Souls and the American Civil Liberties Union

Children composite 3 smSiberia 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 1980 smAkpaleeapik 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.”

boat Grise Fiord 1980 smFrom 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

freud comp 3b sm

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.

Intersection of Art and Psychology

Kindle book art and psychology

Amazon recently listed a new Kindle book, The Intersection of Art and Psychology, edited by Darius Illevicius and Russell Chartier. This open access volume is a discussion of various topics related to art and psychology. I am one of six artists reviewed in this book. There are four color reproductions of my art works. 

Michigan Illuminated Thoughts reviewed in San Diego

ArtPrize from word

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 of my primary website.

No freedom without constraints

West Chicago composite smThis 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

Children composite detail 1 smSiberia 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 work

lietuvos kariuomenePhotograph: 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!


Art at the Collegium Vilnense Societati Jesu in Vilnius

Jezuitu gimnazija

The oldest school in Lithuania, the Collegium Vilnense Societati Jesu, was founded in 1570. The Vilnius Jesuit High School is a direct descendant of this educational institution. In 1579 an offshoot became Vilnius University, which is the third oldest university in Eastern Europe (universities in Prague and Krakow are older).

16 of my art works have recently been placed on permanent display in this historic center of higher education. The selection of the pieces was made by Father Antanas Saulaitis, the director of the Lithuanian and Latvian Jesuits. I became closely acquainted with this wonderful individual in the 1990’s, when he worked in Chicago. He even baptized our daughter, Ausrine.

I have a tremendous respect for higher education (just look at my own background)—I cannot stop studying and learning every day, even now. To have my art displayed in such an important historic educational institution is a tremendous honor for me. This is particularly the case when the selection was made by a truly wonderful human being.