To write a history of this club would take some time, however we shall be brief in enumerating some of the most important events and accomplishments of our club to promote better understanding of our Polish heritage and its role in the cultural enrichment of this country.
As Dr. Charles Baretski, historian of the early years of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC), reported in his introduction to the history of the national organization, "as the Americans of Polish ancestry have taken their place in American society, they have felt the need of conserving and interpreting their Polish heritage." This provided the impetus for a group of Polish-Americans who met while attending cultural programs in Chicago – Orchestra Hall, The Civic Opera House, Ravinia Park, and particularly, a memorial held at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1925 to honor Wladyslaw Reymont, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The PAC was founded by an independent thinking group of young Polish-Americans under the leadership of Thaddeus Slesinski. The club was officially chartered on February 14, 1926, with the following objectives:
To fulfill this mission PAC has been active in the following fields:
Our first Art Exhibition was held in 1933. Since that time we held a total of 81 other annual Art Exhibitions. In the last years these exhibitions were held at the Polish Museum of America.
In 1992, following a visit to our annual Art Exhibition by a representative from the Mayor’s Department of Cultural Affairs, we had a special exhibit by thirty artists at the Chicago Cultural Center.
In 2007, the PAC established a Klemens Kwapiszewski Art Scholarship at the Art Institute of Chicago. The scholarship is financed through the sale of Mr. Kwapiszewski’s artwork, which was bequeathed to the PAC by the artist. In 2009 the PAC presented to the Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) Mr. Kwapiszewski’s sculpture of Lech Walesa, President of Poland and leader of the Solidarity movement. The sculpture is exhibited at the Lech Walesa Hall of NEIU.
In addition the PAC donated the sum of $5,000 towards the installation of "Agora" by Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Grant Park in Chicago.
The PAC has been fortunate to include among its members, professional musicians who have provided the Club with wonderful concerts and recitals. To name a few memorable events:
For many years, DePaul University Prof. Thaddeus Kozuch and his wife, Jacqueline, have opened their home to duo-piano recitals. This special annual event benefited a music scholarship at DePaul University.
Wanda Paul, Professor Emeritus of piano at Northwestern University, and a former national concert pianist, during her career popularized the music by Polish composers, especially Chopin and Szymanowski. In 1982 Wanda Paul organized a concert in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Karol Szymanowski. The concert featured panists, Thaddeus Kozuch, Wanda Paul, pianist Eloise Niwa and violinist David Niwa. Other participants included vocalist Jolanta Pawlikowski and the Lira Singers.
Violinist Raymond Niwa, a former recipient of the PAC music scholarship, has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for fifty years, and participated in many musical events presented by the PAC. At present, he is the music chair of the PAC music scholarship fund.
On June 10, 2001, the PAC sponsored the world premier of an original composition by Jaroslaw Golembiowski, titled "Millennial Polonaise" performed by the Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra of Chicago at the Compernicus Center.
Other musical events sponsored by the PAC include:
In addition the PAC encourages young musicians to follow their calling by providing auditions, scholarships, and debut recitals for those students selected by the judges. Recently we sponsored the following young artists: Adam Golka, Natalia Szadkowski, Michal Pecak, Helen Weberpal,
For many years, our Literary Competition has provided high school students with an opportunity to demonstrate their literary skills in Polish and English. For example, in 1997 close to 200 schools participated in the competition. Several hundred students submitted their short stories, essays, poems in both languages, as well as translations from Polish to English. However, in recent years due to lack of interest we have discontinued this program.
Also, we supported publications of books like "Anthology of Polish American Poetry" and the promotion and sale of other publications like the opera "HALKA" with English translation of vocal parts by Anthony Lukaszewski who was the impresario when "Halka" was presented in English at the Opera House.
A number of international authors have appeared at PAC programs over the years, including: Wieslaw Kuniczak, Adam Zamoyski, and Norman Davies.
During our various programs a number of special lecturers appeared. These included Edward Dusza, Stuart Dybek, Leonard Kosinski, Joanna Radwanska-Williams, Beata E. Pawlikowska and Joseph W. Zurawski.
Over the years many programs have earned the label of "memorable". A few are mentioned here:
The most significant endeavor was the initiation of national conferences with similar cultural groups in other cities. These conferences initiated by Thaddeus Slesinski culminated in the establishment of the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs (ACPC) in 1948 in Detroit.
The PAC hosted in Chicago four national conventions of the ACPC. In1956 at Northwester University, in 1976 at DePaul University, in 1982 at the Radisson Hotel on Michigan Avenue, and in 2001 at the Knickerbocker Hotel. Also, in 1980, the PAC sponsored the 3rd ACPC Regional Discussion Meeting, "American Polonia and the Cultural Issues".
At the ACPC Conventions the following members of PAC received special awards, these members are:
In 1991 the PAC was the recipient of the Copernican Award, granted by the Board of Directors of the Copernicus Foundation.
In reviewing our activities of the past eighty-five years, it is impossible to acknowledge all the hard working officers and committee members who have contributed their talents and energies to the Club’s activities. They have all made a significant impact on the cultural life of Chicago and the Polish-American Community. This has been a memorable eighty-five years and the PAC is grateful for the support and financial assistance it receives from the leading organizations of Chicago’s Polonia.
The Polish Arts Club of Chicago is an affiliate of the American Council for Polish Culture.
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Polish Arts Club