DAUGAVPILS - A multi-million euro arts center opened this week in Latvia’s second largest city in a bid to boost tourism in the region. The 5.7 million euro Mark Rothko Art Center opened in Daugavpils on April 24 after a year-and-a-half of construction work. The state-of-the-art building pays homage to Daugavpils’ born artist Mark Rothko, who is regarded as the father of abstract expressionist art.
Nestled in the city’s 19th century fortress grounds, the center includes exhibition spaces, artist residences and conference halls.
Inga Goldberga, marketing manager for the arts center, said she was confident the center could boost tourism in the region.
“A lot of people around the world know about Mark Rothko, but don’t know about Daugavpils. It’s a great way to introduce the city to the world,” she said.
“It could be the start of something for the development of the area. It’s also developing the fortress area, which is an interesting part of the city,” she added.
“It will give a big push to the region,” she continued, noting that “Daugavpils isn’t only an old Soviet and industrial city; there are many attractions for tourists. If we continue the results will come. It’s a positive resource for the city.”
The 5,000 square meter building currently hosts 200 pieces of original art by local and international artists, including six original pieces by Mark Rothko.
A digital exhibition of Rothko’s life and career and the history of Daugavpils are displayed, while visitors can also enjoy the library and restaurant. Art workshops will also be hosted by international artists including British-born painter Peter Griffin.
Staff at the center stressed that local businesses were used in the construction process. Daugavpils born architect Ilze Ratniece masterminded the building while the Ditton group carried out the mortar work. Funding for the center has come from European bodies while the rest was secured by the Daugavpils City Council.
Around 300 officials were to celebrate the opening of the center, on April 24. Guests on the invite list included Latvia’s speaker of the parliament Solvita
Aboltina and Rothko’s son and daughter, Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel.
Daugavpils mayor, Zanna Kulakova was scheduled to welcome the opening of the center, and leading up to the event said she was confident it could bring more jobs to the region in the future.
“It’s a big opportunity not only for our city, but for the whole of Latvia,” she said.
“It will bring economic benefits. Mark Rothko is known all over the world, so this is bound to bring in more tourists.”
Zaneta Jaunzeme-Grende, Latvia’s Culture Minister said that she was certain the center “will be one of the most demonstrative examples that the money invested in culture pays back with interest. The foundation of the center will give a very positive impact on the increase of foreign tourists in the Latgale region.”
Rothko, an artist of Latvian-Jewish descent, was born in Daugavpils in 1903. His family emigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old. He is regarded as one of America’s most famous painters and for founding an entire movement in art. He died in 1970 at the age of 66.