Promoting Polish Culture and Talent Since 1926

Promoting Polish Culture and Talent Since 1926

About the PACC

The Polish Arts Club of Chicago is an incorporated not for profit 501(c)(3), tax-exempt educational organization established in 1926.

Mission Statement

The Polish Arts Club of Chicago is organized for the purpose of:

  • Rendering moral and material aid to promising Polish and American writers, musicians, artists, and students of the arts.

  • The study of literature, music, and art.

  • Popularizing the knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of music, literature, and art.

  • Creating a greater interest in Polish literature, music, and art in the United States and internationally.

History of the Polish Arts Club of Chicago

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 a 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 PACC 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 broaden their knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of music, art, and literature.

  • To render moral and material aid to promising musicians, artists, and writers.

  • To make Polish music, art, and literature better known in the United States.

  • At different periods since 1926, the following activities have been promoted and carried out successfully.

  • Public lectures on music, art, literature, drama, and history by authorities in their respective fields.

  • Publicizing the cultural events in Chicago through our club bulletins and releases to the press.

To fulfill this mission, PACC 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 PACC 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 PACC 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 PACC donated the sum of $5,000 towards the installation of "Agora" by Magdalena Abakanowicz at Grant Park in Chicago.

The PACC 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 pianists, Thaddeus Kozuch, Wanda Paul, pianist Eloise Niwa, and violinist David Niwa.

Violinist Raymond Niwa, a former recipient of the PACC music scholarship, has been a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for fifty years and participated in many musical events presented by the PACC. At present, he is the music chair of the PACC music scholarship fund.
On June 10, 2001, the PACC sponsored the world premiere of an original composition by Jaroslaw Golembiowski, titled "Millennial Polonaise" performed by the Lake Shore Symphony Orchestra of Chicago at the Copernicus Center.

Other musical events sponsored by the PACC include:

  • "Polish Day Concerts at Ravinia Park" from 1926 to1937, featuring prominent musicians of Polish ancestry and leading Polish choral groups accompanied by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • The PACC was involved in creating interest for the debut performance of tenor Jan Kiepura in "Tosca" with the Chicago Civic Opera Co. at the opening night in 1931 and throughout that operatic season.
  • The PACC organized and sponsored a piano recital by Pawel Checinski at the Auditorium Theatre.
  • Pawel Checinski received his doctorate at Juliard Conservatory and is a former professor of piano at Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. He is also an international concert pianist.
  • The Szczecin Choir performance at DePaul University was also sponsored by the PACC during their first trip to the USA.
  • Another musical form, jazz, was sponsored by us at two concerts performed by Polish pianist Adam Makowicz in 1982 and 1986.
  • In 2003, the PACC sponsored the Penderecki Quartet of Canada in concert at the Polish National Church Cathedral in Chicago.
  • In 2010, we sponsored a recital of the music of Polish composers, performed by Piotr Folkert, an international pianist.

In addition, the PACC 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, and 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 a 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 an 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 PACC 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:

  • One of the noteworthy programs was the 45th Anniversary of the PACC, which featured the"Kujawiaki Dancers" in Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theatre. The performance was followed by a reception for the dancers and their director Janusz Sejda, a former member of "Mazowsze."
  • Marion Winters secured a grant from the Illinois Arts Council and the Polish Arts Club prepared an impressive architectural exhibit of 19 Polish churches throughout Chicago. Professor Marya Lilien of the School of the Art Institute assisted with the exhibit. She was the first woman architect/apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright. This exhibit was located at the Architectural Center of Chicago, at Copernicus Center and the University of Illinois. It was featured in a special brochure by the Chicago Historical Society and, in 1996 at the State of Illinois building during the Polish Heritage Month.
  • The PACC joins other organizations each year in celebrating the Polish Constitution Day Parade in downtown Chicago. For many years, Stan Tabor has been instrumental in designing the PACC floats.

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. In 1956 at Northwestern 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:

  • 1982, Michel Kobelinski – Distinguished Service;
  • 1985, Klemens Kwapiszewski – Cultural Achievement;
  • 1987, Stefania Gondek – Founders Award;
  • 1989, Wanda Paul – Cultural Achievement;
  • 1989, Marion Winters – Founders Award;
  • 1990, Lucyna Migala – Cultural Achievement; and
  • 2005, Vivian Walkossz, PhEd. – Founders Award.
  • 2013, Alicia L. Dukta – Founders Award
  • 2015, Camille Kopielski – Founders Award
  • 2016, Jaroslaw Golembiowski – Cultural Achievement

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

President: Geraldine Balut Coleman
First Vice President: Thaddeus J. Makarewicz
Recording Secretary: Mitchelle Kmiec
Treasurer: Robert F. Dutka, D.D.S.
Financial Secretary: Alicia L. Dutka

Camille Kopielski
Constance Malinowski
Czeslawa Kolak
Edward Kunzman
Jolanta Pawlikowski
Kasia Szczesniewski
Robert Maycan

Geraldine Balut Coleman 2019- PRESENT
H. Anne “Happie” Oerke 2016-2019
Alicia L. Dutka 2015-2016
T. Ron Jasinski-Herbert* 2012 - 2015
Vivian Walkosz, EdD 2008 - 2012
Robert R. Maycan 2003 - 2008
Conrad B. Miczko 2001 - 2003
Jaroslaw Golembiowski (interim) 2001
Shirley Dudzinski 1999 - 2000
Jessica Jagielnik 1997 - 1999
Thaddeus I. Makarewicz 1994 – 1997 * 
Stephanie Ostrowski 1994
Jolanta M. Pawlikowski 1992 – 1994 * 
Helen Dimmett * 1990 - 1992
Rose Kwapiszewski * 1988 - 1990
Wanda Paul * 1987 - 1988
Lillian Zukowski 1985 – 1987 * 
Marie Paprocki 1983 – 1985 * 
Stephanie Ostrowski 1981 – 1983 * 
Marion V Winters 1979 – 1981 *
Frank Mocha * 1977 - 1979
Stefani a Gondek * 1975 - 1977
Adela Bishop * 1973 - 1975
Stanley Placek * 1971 - 1973
Charlotte I Wilk 1969 – 1971 * 
Alfons Kaplinski * 1968 - 1969
Hon. Thaddeus L. Kowalski 1966 - 1968
Walter W. Wieczorek * 1965 - 1966
Valentine Janicki * 1964 - 1965
Thaddeus Slesinski * 1963 - 1964
Bernard Wisniewski 1961 - 1963
Giles G. Kirsten * 1960 - 1961
John S. Wegerzyn * 1958 - 1960
Alfons Kaplinski * 1956 - 1958
John W Gembala * 1954 - 1956
Dr. Bernard Wichlenski 1953 – 1954 * 
Anthony Lukaszewski * 1951 - 1953
Wanda S. Baron * 1949 - 1951
Walter E. Cebelin * 1948 - 1949
Hyacinth Glomski (Drechney) * 1946 - 1948
Walter W. Wieczorek * 1944 - 1946
Myron E. Steczynski * 1943 -1944
Hon. Casimir Greenley (Ziolkowski) * 1942 - 1943
Bronislaw John Mix * 1941 - 1942
Thaddeus Slesinski * 1939 - 1941
Walter W Wieczorek * . 1937 - 1939
Myron E. Steczynski * 1935 - 1937
Max Drezmal * 1930 - 1934
Mr. IB. Zielinski * 1928 - 1929
Julius Szatkowski * 1926 – 1927 * 

* = Deceased