Nida Rutkienė

Owner of ‘Vartai’ art gallery,

Photo creadit: Tomas Adomavičius

Self-respect, it hopelessly diminishes when one is in love.

Nida Rutkienė

Twenty-five years ago, an emotion-laden opportunity appeared: the opportunity to freely decide our own fate for the first time in over 50 years. That’s when my family and I made the decision to found the Vartai gallery.

Fortune sometimes favors me, but not as often I’d like. While I don’t think that it’s possible to call on or to ask for it, to deserve it, to earn it, or to otherwise make a deal with it so it would come – it’s worth trying everything. That’s what I do.

Art and business – to me, these notions are linked. However, a “useful” work of art in a society that lacks a deeper understanding of art will never truly be appreciated.

I know that I’m on the right path because of my never-ending doubt and concern regarding new exhibitions. I boast no other signs – all the more so, because my successors are in fact the ones that have, for some time now, been responsible for these exhibitions and have been working professionally and single-mindedly.

I believe that there is a God, although I am in perpetual conflict with this belief.

Time with myself brings that which is good, beautiful, and sometimes grotesque; things that one wants to forget and those that one wants to remember. Only through art can a mundane memory be fused with the present moment into something greater.

I would like to have lunch with the people that I have respected and loved, but who now, like dried flowers, find themselves pressed into the pages of my memory; those that I didn’t listen to, and the majority of whom I will never again have the chance to engage. It makes you realize that you’re on a one-way street, and that time is fleeting.

Life’s true lesson, one that I learned well, is that whatever the unbearable circumstance, it will change. It can’t last forever. The biggest fires burn out, the seas grow calm, and after illness follows recovery.

Abundance: a word whose definition is a mystery to me, and to speak of it now would be to invent a meaning…but maybe it’s found in those twilight hours, when, through the poems of Jonynas, Bložė, Geda, maybe Parulskis or Cvetajava, you converse aloud with your soul.

The people that I admire are those who, like the priest missionary Herman Šulcas, “[are] everything to everyone,” especially to those pushed to the outskirts of life. Before beginning to teach them the word of God – he helps them to live and to survive.

If I were to write a book, it would be about the Vartai gallery and its contribution to the Lithuanian cultural, social, and political life in the first decade of independence. Now, I think, Vartai has become the prevailing window to the art scene in Lithuania and the world.

Freedom. Only someone who is free can live normally and express themselves creatively, but they are only free when they are masters of their own fate.

Ideas, from their inception to their realization, travel a distant and difficult path to the journey’s end, and some ideas simply fall by the wayside after having just set out. The best ideas are most often simple; they don’t get lost and aren’t forgotten.

To me, Vilnius is the most beautiful city. With the Markučiai farm by its outskirts, its historic old-town, churches, green streets and squares with antique houses, and even its new construction… Wherever Fate may bring me, Vilnius will forever be my city.

Beauty. I agree with the notion that only uncreated or unmanufactured things are beautiful – the secret of beauty coincides with life’s secret, and life’s secret – with the absolute secret of the individual.

The hardest won – I’ve never really had to fight for much; in the most difficult situations, I had faith – faith that the telephone would ring, the right person would come – and that everything would be resolved. I only take or choose from what life has to offer.

A strong woman is one who controls her emotions and her sentimentality – when there is too much of it – as well as jealousy and hysteria. She admits mistakes and embodies strength in overcoming weakness. And…maybe she is one who turns away and says “no,” even when she is tempted to wait and see if some smoldering embers of possibility burst into flames of certainty.

Silence is precious, for she is less and less a frequent guest…I try to find her within myself, inside, even when surrounded by people. If I succeed – I can focus without wavering or flinching, even if something unpleasant arises.

Journeys. When will you get to know yourself and your fellow journeyman better than when traveling? I miss those times and wait patiently for their return, despite the fact that they inevitably bring discomfort and, sometimes, apprehension. To travel is to experience unforgettable wonder – but there arrives, too, an unusually strong, intuitive desire to return to the embrace of old habits…how comfortable and precious is the home to which we return, even after a short trip!

If I were to ‘meet myself’ for the first time, I would think, “Oh, what a pity that we’ve only just met.”

It’s never too late to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

Love, to be in love – that’s where happiness is found. And then there’s everything that is written about love: that it is subtle and beautiful. All this, despite knowing that the poets love their lines about love more than the women who are the objects of their verse!

Self-respect, it hopelessly diminishes when one is in love.

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