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Feature Artist Viestarts Aistars
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Artist Statement: Viestarts Aistars

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, and 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, had two daughters. Aistars moved to Kalamazoo in 1959 to become a part of 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. His favored mediums are oils, watercolors, and charcoal pencil.


Viestarts Aistars has had his artwork exhibited at the Detroit Art Museum, 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, to name only a few. He has had over 50 one-man art exhibits in the Midwest and Eastern United States, including Boston, New York City, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Chicago, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, and many other cities nationwide. Aistars has won numerous prizes and his work has been purchased by countless private collectors, also by the State Museum in Riga, Latvia, and the Art Museum in Jelgava, Latvia. A painting of a Latvian woman in folk costume hangs today in the Riga Pils (Riga Castle), the president’s residence in Riga, Latvia.


To see more of Aistars’ work and read his story, visit or


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