A Father's Memories And Art Preserved

Posted: January 21, 1988

Feliksas Andriunas, 76, of Elkins Park, has spent five years and more than $15,000 on a labor of love to preserve his stepfather's memory and his art.

Andriunas, a retired electrical engineer and economist, designed and published a book on his stepfather Adalbertas Staneika, a Lithuanian painter and diplomat who died in 1962 at age 76.

"She's still warm from the press," said Andriunas, patting the cover of his book. It rolled off the presses at Auch Printing Inc. of Elkins Park shortly before Christmas.

The 8 1/2-by-11 1/2-inch, hard-cover book has a color print of Staneika's self-portrait on its cover. Inside, Andriunas has included a 19-page biography and 12-page critique of Staneika's work by New York painter Paulius Jurkus as well as translations of Staneika's thoughts on art.

The bulk of the book is filled with photographs of the Lithuanian's paintings and drawings.

"I was concerned that his pictures are scattered all over and some day there would be no trace," explained Andriunas.

His stepfather was born in Lithuania in 1885. He studied art in Paris and Rome in his youth and was a very prolific painter. He became a diplomat for the Lithuanian government in later years. He came to the United States with his wife, and stepson, Andriunas, in 1949. They initially settled in New York, but moved to the Philadelphia area a year later.

Most of the paintings are still in Europe, Andriunas said. His stepfather never signed his paintings, because he felt an artist's work should be recognizable by his style, Andriunas said.

"Sometimes, he was a very fast study," Andriunas said of his stepfather's style. "Other times, the sitter (for a portrait) would be

satisfied, but he wouldn't give it to them until everything was just so. He could be called a perfectionist."

The walls of Andriunas' Elkins Park home are filled with portraits and fantasy figure paintings. Unframed paintings are stacked in corners and against the wall. Most of them are copies of commissioned originals that Staneika painted to keep for himself, said Andriunas.

Andriunas said his stepfather was a remarkable person who spoke nine languages, socialized in the highest European diplomatic circles and was commissioned to paint many famous European statesmen and artists.

Andriunas never approached a publishing firm with his book because he said he wanted to do it himself and wanted to be involved in all phases of its designing and production.

"I wanted to tell something my own way," said Andriunas. "I had to make many corrections on color plates. The presentation was not as artistic as it should be. I did not have an easy time with it."

"If you want museum-quality pictures you have to pay museum prices," said Carol Walerski, a clerk at Auch Printing Inc. who helped with Andriunas' project. "He led us to believe that he wanted something a little less expensive."

"He never did this before and he made a lot of changes," said company manager Jim Auch. He wouldn't say how much he charged Andriunas to publish his book.

Andriunas had 500 copies printed and said he will try to sell them for $30 apiece. That won't cover the cost of the publishing, but Andriunas said he is afraid if he charges more they won't sell.

Andriunas hasn't approached any bookstore owners yet about selling his book, but plans to drop stacks off at local art centers for sale to gallery patrons.

Andriunas seems unconcerned about making a profit. Many of the copies already have been given away to family members and he tries to press copies upon visitors.

Auch Printing usually prints such things as calendars, educational books and brochures and newsletters for local civic and education organizations.

Auch said he gets vanity publishing requests most often for family histories or genealogies.

"Every once in awhile we get one of these," said Auch. "One family in Philadelphia got together and did their history, but we did it in black and white."

He said his firm usually prints fewer than 1,000 copies and prices vary greatly depending on the quality of the paper, whether there is color used and if the customer makes changes.

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