Benediktas Gylys, Artist & Founder of Portals

Jun 12, 2024

Meet Benediktas Gylys, artist, founder of Portals and president of the Benediktas Gylys Foundation.

1. Congratulations on the display of Portal on the Flatiron South Plaza. What was your reaction upon hearing the news?

Since we are dealing with large institutions, cities, and governments it takes a lot of time. And that time gives a lot of space to feel all kinds of emotions. When it comes to New York and “news finally being official” I felt really grateful, inspired and blessed to have my sculpture in one of the capitals of the world.

2. Tell us more about Portal and the inspiration behind it?

Portals are technology art sculptures built in large and small cities around planet Earth. Each couple of minutes the connection rotates between multiple countries and invites us humans of planet Earth to meet above borders, narratives and labels.

The idea came to me after traveling to multiple countries like Myanmar, North Korea, India, Brazil and seeing that we all have a lot more in common than we are lead to believe. Also, in 2016 after a sincere search of life meaning I had a scary yet profound experience where I felt connected to all living beings on Earth. After this experience it became difficult to see the constant separation and conflict on our Planet and I felt a deep need to express my feeling on oneness in a pure and different way.

3. What are your most favorite types of interactions and experiences you’ve seen with Portal?

I love to see how the Portal connects people outside of our social bubbles and social media feeds. I also enjoy seeing that it connects people on the New York side as well – people start dancing together or just talking about the Portal, about what they read online. It was also interesting to see marriage proposals (the answer was not a bit clear for me though), bitcoin transactions, and people spending hours preparing to come to the Portal with their beautiful long letters.

It’s also very interesting to see multiple layers of creativity – Portal is the first layer, after we have a layer of people being creative close to the Portal, after we have people editing videos and images in a funny way online, creating memes, cartoons, real oil on canvas paintings. It’s a collective co-creation. Very inspiring.

4. In addition to being the dedicated founder and artist of Portals & Foundation President – you have been an active investor, best-selling author, and talk show host. What led you to choose this career inspired by science, creativity, and entrepreneurship? 

I am always trying to listen and hear myself. Nowadays in our global culture it’s very difficult to do it since we silently program ourselves with the values of our family, friends, Netflix series. I am trying to live life true to myself – to identify and offer my gifts to the world so that once I am very old I could review my journey and listen to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” with a smile.

5. As an active angel investor, what professional advice would you share for those aspiring to be builders and entrepreneurs?

As an investor I am involved with more than 10 different projects and I see that it’s very difficult. My advice would be to buckle up and prepare for an adventure that will reveal yourself. The goal and aspiration of building something should be so big and so bold, much bigger than ourselves and our fake tiny dreams about buying nice stuff – if the aspiration is pure and sincere towards optimizing our Planet the pull will be strong enough and help to keep pushing through the difficult times that will, trust me, come.

6. When you visit New York City, how do you prefer to spend your time in Flatiron and NoMad? Any local favorites or ‘musts’ come to mind?

We already have an established relationship and Instagrams exchanged with an artist working as a barista in Eataly named Brody. I get my large oat latte from him almost everyday and head towards Madison Square Park to observe the Portal. I also really enjoy eating local pizza and watching some comedy at Gotham Comedy Club. I also enjoy just strolling around the streets – I think this is the best, most real way to feel the district.

7. Finally, choose three words to describe Flatiron and NoMad.

Inclusive, inspiring and mysterious.

Header & Thumbnail Photo Credit: Benediktas Gylys

Flatiron & NoMad Weekly Newsletter

Get 'The Latest' about local events, new business openings, district news, and neighborhood resources direct to your inbox each week. For quarterly market updates, you can also select the Flatiron & NoMad Real Estate Snapshot.

Email Lists(Required)

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Flatiron NoMad Partnership, 230 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1511, New York, NY, 10001, US, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.