By Michael Patrick, Ph.D.
As a journalist and former network producer, I am accustomed to managing my way amid chaos whether in a conflict zone or setting up an encounter with a head of state. Where does that smoother, in-the-moment guy suddenly run off to when I really need him? He leaves me standing alone with this truly extraordinary soul and I am rarely prepared for it. I am disheveled, nerdy, terribly blabby-talkative, overthinking, momentarily forgetful, instant recall is fogged, stumbling, disorganized. I later go through those small sharp pains where one recalls, “did I really say that out loud?” Catching moments with an extraordinary artist “with all the lights on” can be scary. It’s like bumbling about trying to catch a butterfly with a jar.
In broad strokes, Jurgita Gerlikaitė is an independent artist, graphic artist, and art critic who has studied and practiced in Lithuania, London, Denmark, and elsewhere. She comes from an entire family of recognized artists, including her grandmother, Petronele, whose life and art captured the sublime etched in faces, along with the war and upheaval which wrecked families and engulfed Europe in the 20th Century.
We met after bumping into each other online about our shared love of art and artistry. I persuaded her to meet me when I arrived in Vilnius because, after all, who better to show me one of the loveliest and artistic small cities?
Hours evaporated in moments strolling through galleries and along cobblestone streets. Once I saw Gita’s work, I knew the real art of Vilnius was this independent soul who was guiding me. The paintings would still be on the wall, but she wouldn’t be.
She steadfastly refused to be my muse in street shots. At one point, she busted me for sneaking photos of her looking at art. I weakly argued that the expressions of people as they soak in art are always more intriguing to me. She did not buy it for a second, of course, but stood there like teacher with a bratty 7th grader while I showed her each of my stolen photos and she made me delete each one. I will laugh forever about that.
Gita speaks four languages fluently, Danish, Russian, Lithuanian, English, and smatterings of others. That comes with her family and her many travels, from Asia and the Middle East through eastern and northern Europe. But artists don’t tell you who they are via words; they show you with every creation, brushstroke, and graphic. For me, Gita’s work stopped me between heartbeats. She is self-revealing, layered, and connecting, spiritual, authentic, and transparent. Gita has enjoyed scores of shows and exhibitions of her work. She has also published a book about her grandmother—a startling story of an artist amid world wars. Gita sees it becoming a screenplay and I agree. She is now working on a major commissioned work on the city of Vilnius
Her personal life is that she is loved and loves—a story each of us can relate to through our own lenses. Some of her personal life already appears in public via her work. While our lives spin us naturally in different orbits, I will always follow the fascinating story of my new friend, the artist, through a corner in my heart. You may also enjoy the sampling of her works here, along with a link to her online gallery. You can also find and follow her in Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the usual suspects.