Viestarts Aistars retrospective at Prairie Ronde

By Sydney Bastos, Trustee, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center presents The Seasons of Aistars – A Retrospective of Viestarts Aistars (1927-2020). This large collection of watercolors and oils will be exhibited from March 9 to April 2 at the Prairie Ronde Gallery, 101 E. Prairie Road in Vicksburg. You are invited to a celebration of his life and works with his daughter Zinta Aistars during the Grand Opening of the exhibition, Thursday, March 9, 2023, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Born in the summer of 1927 in Dobele, Latvia, Viestarts Aistars was the eldest of four sons in a family with a legacy of love for the arts. He immigrated to the United States in the aftermath of World War II, when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet army and the Aistars family was listed for deportation to concentration camps in Siberia, where many Latvians died. Chicago was Aistars’ first home in the United States. He enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied art while learning to speak English. His education was interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, but he returned to the Art Institute after the war and finished his degree, married the love of his life, Velta (Dunkelis) in May 1951, and had two daughters—Daina and Zinta. Viestarts moved to Kalamazoo in 1959 to join a large and vibrant Latvian community.

Much of Aistars’ work reflects the home he lost, with frequent themes of Latvian culture and folklore, seascapes recalling the Baltic Sea, or the forests he wandered in his childhood. Perhaps it is not such a coincidence that many of these scenes have a resemblance to the landscape of Michigan. Aistars has had his artwork exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Indiana Art Center in Indianapolis and South Bend, Indiana, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Grand Rapids Art Museum, as well as Latvian art exhibits in Seattle, Washington; New York City; Reading, Pennsylvania; and Cleveland, Ohio. He has had more than 60 one-man art exhibits in the Midwest and Eastern United States.

Now you can see his artwork right in Vicksburg during the month of March. Most of the works will be available to purchase at the opening as well as during gallery hours which are Tuesday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can see more of Aistars’ works at or Instagram/viestartsaistars.

This exhibit is presented by the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center and Prairie Ronde Artist Residency.

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