Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Of Vilnius: No Sculpture of Paulie Walnuts. Yet.

Vilnius somewhat famously has a public sculpture, mere steps from the U.S. Embassy, of Frank Zappa. (Well, not that famously. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of it. Famously among Lithuanians and those of us who wore out the figurative grooves on Burnt Weenie Sandwich.) It's an oddity that is definitely worth a look if you're in Vilnius, but it's really not a very interesting sculpture and doesn't work well with its surroundings as public art.

At least for now, Mr. Zappa is not the only odd bit of American-pop-culture public art on display. From what your correspondent could gather, in keeping with its role as European Capital of Culture for 2009, Vilnius initiated a project called "Art in Unusual Places." Exemplary of this project: This monumental sculpture of Tony Soprano in his bathrobe. Why? We cannot say. Frank Zappa's peculiar musical expression was supposedly an inspiration for the freedom-starved Lithuanians in the 80's. I hesitate to guess that a sculpture of Tony Soprano could be similarly inspirational for today's Lithuanian youth.

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