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JONAS MEKAS:

“Let me dream…What should this Center do besides housing and occasionally showing Maciunas’ and Mekas’ works ?
It shouldn’t be a Museum, that is, a Center, a place devoted only to its collections. I mean, works by Maciunas/Fluxus and myself.
It should be a place for living, working artists, working in film, video, computer, mixed media fields from all over the world, to present their works. It should also be a center, a place to present retrospectives and surveys of works of artists, working in the above mentioned fields, from the past.
It should carry the flag of the avantgardes of all of the arts“.

FOUNDERS OF THE JONAS MEKAS VISUAL ARTS CENTER:

  • The City Council of Vilnius founded the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in February of 2007
  • The City of Vilnius is the sole founder of the JMVAC

GOALS, MISSION, VISION

Goals as stated by the Vilnius City Council:

  • Acquisition of the Fluxus Collection
  • Conducting a Feasibility Study and establishing a Multi-Functional Cultural Center in Vilnius
  • Collecting, safely storing and exhibiting the works of famed 21st Century artists Jonas Mekas and George Maciunas, as well as items connected with their lives, e.g. sketches, posters, photographs, equipment, supplies.
  • Showcasing film classics, intellectual, documentary and national film and the visual arts.

MISSION

  • Return the heritage of Lithuania’s émigré art to Lithuania
  • Create an environment that would allow Lithuanian artists to be a part of European and global culture
  • Transform Vilnius into a well known 21st Century center of avant-garde art with its own unique and recognizable identity

VISION

  • Founding a Multi-Functional Cultural Center in Vilnius in cooperation with the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Guggenheim Museum in New York that would contain a museum, film and conference halls, and an educational center with a library, film library and the latest visual arts technology
  • Organizing creative filmmakers’ evenings, hosting premieres of Lithuanian full feature, documentary, animated films and videos, meetings with creative groups, organizing creative film camps and courses for children and young adults.

EXCEPTIONAL EXHIBITIONS

Exhibition. November, 2007 – January, 2008. The Avant-Garde: From Futurism to Fluxus. Opening of the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center at 14 Gyneju St. The exhibition presented famous avant-gardists: Kazys Binkis, Jonas Mekas, George Maciunas and a variety of art forms: films, film stills, literature, Fluxus artworks and documents, sculptures.

The opening was attended by Jonas Mekas, China’s Minister of Culture, Lithuania’s Minister of Culture, Lithuania’s Prime Minister, the Mayor of the City of Vilnius, the Director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York Thomas Krens, the Director of the Hermitage Museum Mikhail Piotrovsky, Fluxus artists and George Maciunas’ close friends Shigeko Kubota and Ben Vautier. Curators, teachers and students from Germany, Austria, Denmark, Latvia, France, Italy, Belarus, Russia and other countries travelled to Lithuania to attend the event.

The exhibition garnered exceptional attention from the international arts community as well as media. Art Forum, Art in America, Kunst Magazine, Art Review carried articles on the event. The prestigious European cultural channel Arte broadcast segments from the opening.

Architectural exhibition. Envisioning a Hermitage/Guggenheim Museum in Vilnius. April – September, 2008. The JMVAC together with the Guggenheim Museum presented a vision for a new multi-functional center. An international jury chose the best project for a future Hermitage/Guggenheim Multi-Functional Center. The winner was Pritzker prize winner architect Zaha Hadid.

The project garnered international media attention from the BBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNBC etc. The Guggenheim’s consideration of Vilnius as a proposed new location was written about in The New York Times a number of times, The Los Angeles Times, Le Monde as well as in ARTnews, ArtsJournal News, Art Observed etc.  Vilnius became a part of the global world of architecture with the project’s inclusion in significant architectural publications. World renowned architects Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind both included the project in their architectural books published in the USA and Great Britain together with a description of the competition and the city of Vilnius’ plans.

Exhibition. George Maciunas: Founder of SoHo. (May – September, 2010). The exhibition was supplemented with three cultural events. (1) Documentary material about the founding of the SoHo area of New York City was presented at the JMVAC. A significant part of it was from the Fluxus collection acquired by the City of Vilnius. (2) Book launch of Illegal Living: 80 Wooster Street and the Evolution of SoHo by American authors Roslyn Bernstein and Shael Shapiro. The book debuted both in Lithuania and in the United States with the attendance of the authors at both venues. (3) Series of lectures in Vilnius and Kaunas by John Hatfield, Deputy Director of the New Museum in New York about the transformation of cities into cultural centers.

Exhibition. From New York with Love: Jonas Mekas, Fluxus and the American Film Avant-Garde. June, 2010. The JMVAC presented the exhibition together with the Embassy of the United States in Ukraine and the Embassy of Lithuania in Ukraine at the Contemporary Art Museum in Kiev. The exhibition featured the avant-garde movement of the 20th Century and merited a great deal of attention from the public as well as the media. The exhibition was named the best exhibition of the year in Ukraine’s capital city. The main works exhibited were from the Fluxus collection of the JMVAC. Acclaimed filmmaker Jonas Mekas prepared a special collection of films for the event, which included the most important works of visionary modern artists that reflected the aesthetics and world view of the avant-garde.

The exhibition was widely featured in the Ukrainian media, including radio, TV and print. There were a total of 91 news reports about the exhibition in Kiev, Ukraine.

Exhibition. Anything Can Substitute Art: Maciunas in SoHo (December, 2012 – January, 2013). The exhibition took place at the Cooper Union Gallery in New York. It featured rarely shown works by Fluxus artists Ay-O, George Brecht, Nam June Paik and others, the early works of George Maciunas, self-portraits, etching and plans for an artists’ area in New York’s famous SoHo area, as well as various Fluxus manifests, interviews, films and documents. The exhibition took a fresh look at a piece of New York’s history as well as contemporary art history. The exhibition put 170 works on view. The exhibition was jointly hosted by the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

The George Maciunas/Fluxus exhibition in New York attracted the exceptional attention of the New York Times and received a rave review.

“Anyone who wants to get a sense of Maciunas himself, and the Fluxus universe in which he lived, will want to watch Mr. Mekas’ swiftly flowing 1992 film Zefiro Torna, or Scenes from the Life of George Maciunas. It plays continuously in the gallery, and it’s exhilarating and heartbreaking.” Maciunas is described as a pratical-minded utopian from Lithuania who bought and converted crumbling industrial buildings into live-and-work spaces for artists. The review also noted that, “One of these Fluxhouses held early showcases for underground films, run by Maciunas’ fellow Lithuanian, Jonas Mekas.” The exhibition was a Critics’ Pick for Artforum International Magazine.

New York Times link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/arts/design/george-maciunas-anything-can-substitute-art-maciunas-in-soho.html

Artforum link: http://artforum.com/index.php?pn=picks&id=38466&view=print

Exhibitions. Fluxus: Russian Atlases. Until We Meet Again, My Friends. (September 20, 2013 – November 3, 2013). The JMVAC, together with the State Hermitage Museum of Russia, held an exhibition in St. Petersburg at the State Hermitage Museum. It was attended by Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas, members of the Vilnius City Council, acclaimed filmmaker Jonas Mekas, Lithuania’s ambassador to Russia, V. Usackas.

“These exhibitions are an exceptional event in Lithuania’s cultural life because this is the first time that Lithuania’s artists George Maciunas and Jonas Mekas will be shown at the State Hermitage Museum,” said Mayor Zuokas.

The exhibition featured the work of George Maciunas and Fluxus in Fluxus: Russian Atlases.

Jonas Mekas’ solo exhibition in St. Petersburg featured his films and photographs. Mekas is an acclaimed filmmaker, artist and curator, often named the godfather of American avant-garde film.

The international media has widely reported on and featured the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center including the New York Times, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Mundi, Bavaria 2, Arte, OTV, Rossija, Kultura.

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