Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nida and the Artist Colony

Hello all!  I hope you're having a swell summer!  For the last month I have been living in a remote but beautiful region of Lithuania, known as the Curonian Spit.  This thin strip of land jets out from Kalinigrad, Russia and is shared between the two countries.  I am here doing an artist-in-residence at the Nida Art Colony, about one kilometer from the Russian border. 

Here's a map to give you abetter idea of where I am.

The large body of water on the east of the Spit is the Curonian Lagoon and on the other side is the Baltic Sea.  You can walk from the Lagoon to the sea in roughly 20 minuets.  You can also stand on top of the sand dunes and watch the sun rise over the lagoon and set over the Baltic from the same spot.

I think I'll start with some pictures of Nida and the surrounding environment.

The Baltic Sea. Cold but amazing!

Amber actually washes up on the beach.  It's a bit hard to find but I did collect this on one lucky day.

A painting student out on the dune. Nida has long been a destination for painters and writers, mostly from Germany, including Thomas Mann.  There was even another artists colony in Nida that dates back to the late 19th century.

The Lagoon

Now to the reason I am here.  This is the Vilnius Academy of Arts' Nida Art Colony.  There are spaces for five artist-in-residence at a time.  In the summer, the place is also full of art students from the Academy who come to take short courses or workshops.

The residents' living quarters are basically two floor apartments.  One floor is the living area and the other is a studio.  A bike is also included.

My studio was upstairs.  It had beautiful light coming in from the four skylights above.

Show and tell with the residents

The post-show and tell BBQ with residents and staff


This is the so called "no-man's land" separating Lithuania and Russia.  The photo doesn't show it well but there is a rather imposing guard tower in the distance.  Part of the reason I came to Nida was to continue my work about borders and post-socialist societies.  The next iteration of the East/West project will likely focus on these unusual "lines in the sand" type of borders.

I later found part of the border washed up on the beach after a storm

Speaking of Russia...

It doesn't get dark here until very late, if at all.  This was taken near the summer solstice at about midnight.

A gas station

Lucas, having an idea

Linas, checking out a moose

Canadian artists Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed leaving the Colony after a two month residency.  

Before they left they baked an apple pie for everyone and raffled off some of the things they had acquired during their stay.  (I got bungee cords - which I LOVE, thank you girls!)


Natacha, our spiritual leader.


 Hanging in the woods


A Lithuanian movie shoot.  They gave us free beer to be extras.

  The other American in Lithuania, artist-in-residence Daniel Spangler

Open studios with German artist-in-residence Philipp Hamann, AKA Mr. 999.

And the post-open studio smoked fish dinner.

That about does it.  

I am heading back to Vilnius tomorrow and from there I'm off to Prague for the month of July.  I did in fact make a new project here so I will be sharing that with you soon.

Bye for now folks.