Polish Arts Club as a cultural asset

by David Franczyk
Since 1945, the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo, has consistently and imaginatively promulgated the highlights of Polish arts, literature, music, history, theater and culture. The organization was founded after a lecture by Jan Ignacy Paderewski’s confidant, Zygmunt Stojowski, who suggested that the time for such a move had come, given the large Polish-American population in western New York and the need to promote Polish culture in the days following World War II. World War.

The early presidents of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo (PACB) were extremely prominent in the arts and other aspects of Polish culture. The first president was the accomplished Buffalo Works Progress Administration (WPA) artist, illustrator, cartoonist and lecturer, Eugene Dyczkowski. His massive, well-executed military murals can be found on the walls of campus buildings at Fort Niagara Historic Site and his fine paintings adorn the walls of Burgard High School in Buffalo.
About 20 years ago I started collecting Dyczkowski’s paintings and drawings of still lifes and local landscapes at various local auctions and antiques sales. His paintings are skillful, vibrant and colorful, and although the vast majority are realistic depictions, I own at least one abstract by Dyczkowski, which he has so far decried as “malowanie na nogach”, or “foot painted”. “.
PAC President Felix Klempka and 2nd Vice President Robert Fronckowiak recently met with representatives from the Burchfield Penny Art Gallery to plan an exhibition of Dyczkowski’s paintings in the near future.
One of the earliest organizers of the PAC was East Side pharmacist and business owner Francis C. Schunke, who was also a noted local painter. About 20 or more years ago, I bought a 1939 Schunke painting of flowers in a McCoy pottery vase (which my wife collects) at a run-down warehouse flea market for only $25. The same eye-catching painting featured on the front page of the 1940 edition of the Buffalo Society of Artists publication and was on display at an art exhibition at the time at the Statler Hilton Hotel.
My family’s first involvement with the PAC was when the brilliant Aleksander Janta-Polczynski served as PAC President from 1949 to 1951. During his tenure, the club featured a performance of Adam Mickiewicz’s epic ” Dziady”, or “Ancestor’s Eve”. My mother Alina Franczyk-Smolarek was an actress in the play, and there is a dramatic photo of her in costume photographed at what appears to be the Buffalo Historical Society or the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where the play was staged .
The Polish Arts Club of Buffalo has once again become as active as it has ever been in the club’s history. Despite the big bump in the road that PAC has faced along with all the other organizations due to the coronavirus, the organization has still been able to put in place substantive programming thanks to the dedication of its hard-working Board of Directors. hard. The Polish Arts Club-sponsored piano concert featuring virtuoso Igor Lipinski performing his “Masterpieces” program, was packed with grateful patrons at St. Michael’s Church in downtown Buffalo last year, despite the pandemic. The Polish Arts Club Biesiada honoring author Sophie-Hodorowicz Knab and musician and speaker Michael Zachowicz is scheduled for this Sunday, September 18 at 12:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Manor in Lancaster, and all should be encouraged to attend.
Overcoming these recent adversities, PAC President Felix Klempka is skillfully steering PAC into a stronger future, with an effort to increase club membership and promote even more substantial programming of interest to Polonia and the community at large. wide. Felix has an interesting background; he is a mechanical engineer by training, and in addition to his interest in Poland, he is also an “Anglophile”, i.e. someone who is interested in and appreciates the culture and history of Poland. Britain. He hails from the Polish Black Rock community of Buffalo and has also traveled to Europe on several occasions.
Mr. Klempka is well served by an engaged Board of Directors, including PAC 2nd Vice President Robert Fronckowiak, an enthusiastic and efficient organizer and volunteer of many Polish events and programs, including the Polish Arts Club Lecture Series from next year, which returns after a covid break.
Other board members include former PAC presidents Christine Nowak (1991-1992) and her brother, Stan Nowak, (2006-2009). Both are active in many Polish organizations. Stan, currently 1st Vice President of PAC, recently attended the American Conference of Polish Cultural Clubs (ACPC) convention in San Antonio, Texas with the club’s 2nd Vice President, Robert Fronckowiak. Almost all of the current volunteer members of the PAC board are active in numerous Polish-American organizations, including: Mary-Lou Wyrobek, chair of the permanent chair of Polish culture at Canisius College and member of the Chopin Singing Society; lawyer Mark Peszko, active with the Black Rock Historical Association and the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York, and many other Polish and non-Polish cultural organizations; Maureen Gleason, a tireless activist in numerous organizations, including the Pulaski Association and the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Drama Circle; and longtime Polish activist John Medwid.
If you have not already done so, I invite you to become a member of the Polish Arts Club of Western New York at PO Box 259, Buffalo, NY 14217, c/o Membership Secretary. Membership fees are $25 for an individual and $40 for a family.


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