Jurgis Sapkus

Born : 24th April 1928 - Lithuania

Died : 26th November 2017, California, USA

Married : Julia Kiefer in Germany

Children : Marius & Sylvia

 

SCULPTOR & PAINTER

 

AMERICAN - LITHUANIAN

http://www.lituanus.org/1990_3/90_3_05.htm

 

2015 : California
2015 : California
Jurgis had been a longtime member of our Los Angeles Meher Baba Community, with many of his lovely paintings and sculptures of Baba gracing the Main Hall and Dome here at Meherabode.
 
Jurgis was born in Lithuania in 1928 and moved to Chicago, USA in 1952 to pursue his life work as an artist. Due to early financial struggles Jurgis took various odd jobs to make ends meet. He later moved to Los Angeles, California with his family where he would live for the rest of his life. Though based in Los Angeles Jurgis would travel extensively throughout Europe, Asia and Mexico for his work. 
 
About his art, Jurgis said, "I love people. Working on the art piece and forming it until it is in harmony with my feelings is my goal."
 
Perhaps Jurgis' most well-known piece of art is the incredible white marble sculpture he created depicting Meher Baba lovingly embracing Mohammed mast. This sculpture (pictured below) stands in one of the garden areas at the MPR in Meherabad. 
The process of getting the marble into place and preparing for the work was very involved.
In his later years Jurgis concentrated more on painting and as stated above, many of his works of art depicting Beloved Baba are on display at our Center in Los Angeles, such as the one at the bottom of this page.
Discussion has begun about the planning of a Memorial Service for Jurgis that would likely take place at Meherabode in the middle of January. There will be more information about this event forthcoming for our local Baba community. 

 

Courtesy of :

Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California
Meherabode
 Replica of Helen Dahm's ceiling at the Samadhi - ten foot wide panel. Courtesy of Brent Carter.
Replica of Helen Dahm's ceiling at the Samadhi - ten foot wide panel. Courtesy of Brent Carter.

Jurgis Sapkus was born April 24, 1928 to a Catholic family in Lithuania. Jurgis used to tell of his father, who was something of an artist himself, crafting dioramas from things he found in the forest around his home.  


At the age of 14 Jurgis became the youngest performer with a Lithuanian folk music and dance troupe. When the Germans occupied the country during WWII, the company was ordered to perform for the German troops, eventually being transferred to Vienna, and later Berlin.  Before the Russians arrived to occupy Berlin, as the Allies were bombing the city, Jurgis made a harrowing escape by train to rural Bavaria. After the war Jurgis remained in Germany as a displaced person and was allowed to attend art school in Freiburg. It was there in 1949 that Jurgis met fellow art student Julia Kiefer, who soon became his wife. Jurgis and Julia spent many hours with Julia's family. Jurgis had a special connection to his father-in-law, who was both a gifted musician and painter.


As a refugee from now Soviet occupied Lithuania, Jurgis was able to immigrate to the US in 1951 with Julia and their newborn son, Marius. They settled in Chicago, though neither of them yet spoke English. Jurgis worked hard in the notorious Chicago stockyards in order to support his family, as well  as to save up for tuition to attend the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. In 1953 Julia returned to her family in Germany for the birth of their second child, Sylvia. Meanwhile, Jurgis was accepted at the Art Institute and quickly developed as a sculptor. It was in Chicago during these years that Jurgis received his first major commissions.


In 1961 Jurgis heard through an artist friend who had moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, that Mattel Toys was looking for sculptors and designers to help develop new products. 
Marius remembers Jurgis sitting at their old kitchen table in Chicago, working on a wax doll head to submit as part of his application. Though quickly hired by Mattel, the family chose to take their time in moving to California so that they could see some of the country. Instead of flying directly to Los Angeles they embarked on a cross-country train trip, finally arriving in Hawthorne, California. Several months later they would find what would become their home in Manhattan Beach.


Jurgis went to work for Mattel while Julia, Marius, and Sylvia settled into their new life. Everyday while driving to work Jurgis would notice a woman he recognized from Mattel, waiting for a bus on Rosecrans. One day he decided to stop and offer her a ride. She accepted and thus began a lifetime friendshp with Filis Frederick and his life changing introduction to Meher Baba.

 

The above bio is courtesy of AMB Center of Southern California. ( January 2018 newsletter )

 

 Courtesy of Brent Carter
Courtesy of Brent Carter

Jurgis Šapkus is a contemporary Lithuanian painter and sculptor in Southern California. He was born in Lithuania, and came to the United States in 1952. He studied art at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Freiburg, at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, Germany, and later at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.


http://www.lituanus.org/1990_3/90_3_05.htm

1977, Meherabad ; Mehera with Baba's bust - photo by David Fenster
1977, Meherabad ; Mehera with Baba's bust - photo by David Fenster
1977, Meherabad ; Mehera with Baba's bust - photo by David Fenster
1977, Meherabad ; Mehera with Baba's bust - photo by David Fenster
Courtesy of The Awakener magazine 1974 - Vol.15, Nos.3 & 4
Courtesy of The Awakener magazine 1974 - Vol.15, Nos.3 & 4


"Remember Me and all headaches will disappear."

 


 Painting Jurgis did for 1989 Sahavas - photo by Brent Carter
Painting Jurgis did for 1989 Sahavas - photo by Brent Carter
 Courtesy of Brent Carter
Courtesy of Brent Carter
 Courtesy of Brent Carter
Courtesy of Brent Carter

Statue at the MPR at Meherabad 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqgO9sCVLIY

Pilgrim Retreat, the new building at upper Meherabad, is due to
open for full-time pilgrim accommodation next season, June 2006.
Construction is complete and the building is now undergoing furnishing and decoration.
While furniture building, administrative preparations, and the
outfitting of kitchen equipment are going on, another aspect of final preparation
is the installation of many works of art and decoration by a number artists.
For this purpose, a little colony of painters, decorators, sculptors, and picture framers
has been established in the building itself.

From August onwards several artists-in-residence have
been working on installing their pieces while they live in a few of the rooms at the Retreat.
Meals are delivered to them from the Pilgrim Centre.
The atmosphere is one of quiet dedication and long work hours. A tour
through the rooms, halls and courtyards shows an amazing variety of
pieces being created and installed, and the total effect is truly impressive
in magnitude. Notable too is the number of countries represented by
the artists. There are contributors from America, India,
Spain, England, Serbia, Australia, Lithuania, Iran and perhaps
some I've missed! In recent weeks there have been seven artists in
residence at the Retreat, another 6 or so at Meherabad working on some of the projects, and
at least another 7 artists who have works which will be installed over the next few months.

Jurgis Sapkus, originally from Lithuania, is a well-known Baba sculptor from Los Angeles.
When Jurgis arrived early in the pilgrim season, his first task was to travel to Makhrana, Rajasthan,
to acquire a large piece of white marble for his life-size sculpture of Baba and Mohammed Mast.
The trip to get the marble is a story in itself, a success, and his work in the courtyard at MPR
is shaping up beautifully.
Mohammed's laughing face and Baba's tender embrace are captivating as they
emerge from Jurgis's expert chisel strokes. The luminescent marble,
of the same type as India's Taj Mahal, is harder and more prone to splits than
the Arizonan marble Jurgis has used previously, so he finds this aspect of the work challenging.
Jurgis intends to finish the piece by the end of December.

 

Tavern Talk

Courtesy of Love Street Love Post
Courtesy of Love Street Love Post
JURGIS ILLUSTRATED THE COVER
JURGIS ILLUSTRATED THE COVER
 Courtesy of Brent Carter
Courtesy of Brent Carter
 Replica of Helen Dahm's ceiling at the Samadhi - ten foot wide panel. Courtesy of Brent Carter.
Replica of Helen Dahm's ceiling at the Samadhi - ten foot wide panel. Courtesy of Brent Carter.
Jurgis took out a patent for a squeezing doll
Jurgis took out a patent for a squeezing doll