Saulės Takas or “Path of the Sun” Undertaken at Lauritzen Gardens
In celebration of Omaha’s Sister City of Šiauliai, Lithuania, Lauritzen Gardens hosted a live demonstration of Lithuanian wood sculpture carving in August of 2015.
Gifted and acclaimed folk artist and wood carver Aurimus Šimkus of Kurtuvėnai, Lithuania (located just outside of Omaha’s sister city – Šiauliai) carved a traditional totem – a depiction of Eglė – Queen of the Grass Snakes from the popular Lithuanian folk tale (of the same name), out of a large wooden log (some 10 feet long, 2 feet in diameter).
The artist was joined by award-winning Šiauliai filmmaker Zigmas Ripinskis, who documented the project on film.
Lithuanian tree carving is an ancient and prevalent part of the culture of the Baltic states and is an art form for which this part of the world has become well-known. This inaugural wood sculpture symbolizes the gift of Lithuanian culture, from the people of Šiauliai to the people of Omaha, as Omaha celebrates 50th anniversary of our sister-city relationship with Shizuoka, Japan, and the founding of the Omaha Sister Cities Association in 1965.
This was the first phase of a multi-year Lithuanian Folk Wood Sculptures Project “Path of the Sun” / “Saulės Takas” undertaken at Lauritzen Gardens, in collaboration with the Omaha Friends of Šiauliai committee of the Omaha Sister Cities Association (OSCA). The long-term vision is to create a variety of Lithuanian folk wood sculpture elements, crafted by a diverse group of individual folk artists / wood carvers from Lithuania – that will adorn the grounds of Lauritzen Gardens on a long-term basis.