Friday, June 22, 2012

General Meeting of Modjeska Club - June 23 at 5 p.m., Pasadena

A quick reminder that the general meeting of the Modjeska Club and the elections of the new President and Board are scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 5 p.m. at the hospitable home of Danuta and Wieslaw Zuchowski in Pasadena. The address and other details have been provided in an email and letters to all Club members who have paid the dues. Whoever did not pay the dues yet and is not eligible to vote, may come to the meeting, pay the oustanding yearly dues, and pick up the ballot to exercise their right to vote.

Over the course of the last two years, the Bylaws of the Modjeska Club have been revised by a committee lead by Andrew Z. Dowen and the resulting text has been sent to all members in good standing with a ballot for approval. The English version is the legal document, and a Polish translation has been posted on the website:

Prof. Norman Davies (center) surrounded by the Modjeska Club members. L to R: Andy Dowen, Jola Zych, Krystyna Bartkowska, Bozena Szeremeta, Dorota Olszewska, Elzbieta Kanska, Krystyna Okuniewska, Maja Trochimczyk, Helena Kolodziey, Krystyna Kuszta and Bogdan Plewnia, May 19, 2012, Beverly Hills. Poster by Lech Majewski, commissioned by Consul General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes jako dar dla Klubu.

The Club has hosted 15 events in the 39th season (2010-2011) and 13 events in the 40th anniversary season (2011-1012), including presentations by artists, writers, actors, musicians, and politicians from Poland, Polish-American poets, musicians, and scholars specializing in Polish culture.  Additionally two events focused on presentations of the Modjeska Prizes to Marian Dziedziel and Anna Dymna. Several events were organized in collaboration with Polish and American partners, to mention only: the Bowers Museum, Jacaranda Music Group, the UCLA Hammer Museum, Instytut Adama Mickiewicza, USC Polish Music Center, Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles, and, our greatest supporter, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland.

Our events were mostly open to the public and about 50% used English as the main language. The "members-only" events included meetings with Prof. Jerzy Balcerowicz, former Chairman of Poland's National Bank in 2010, and with Prof. Norman Davies, a British expert on European history in 2012 

We received honors and recognitions from the City and County of Los Angeles. We have instituted a new award, called the "Modjeska Prize" and given in recognition of outstanding achievements by actors in Poland. Jan Nowicki, Marian Dziedziel and Anna Dymna have received the Modjeska Prizes so far.

Much progress was made in documenting the Club's history as new sources came to life from the collections of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago thanks to the President's reasearch.  In addition, founding members, active in the club's first decade (Wanda Baran, Jerzy Zagner) have also contributed important sources and information.  Research continues. The results will be published in the book "A Grand,  Historical Album" ("Album Wielce Historyczny") that is currently being edited. The publication of the Polish version will be scheduled for the fall 2012. The book will include biographical notes about important artists, writers, scholars and scientists who have belonged to the Club over the 40 years of its history.

It has been a pleasure to serve as the Club's President for the past two years and I'm proud of our collective accomplishments.  I've been assisted by an amazing, dedicated, hard-working, and cohesive Board of Directors: Krystyna Kuszta, Vice-President; Danuta Zuchowski, Treasurer; Krystyna Bartkowski, Secretary; Andy Dowen, Krystyna Okuniewska, Wanda Presburger, Bogdan Plewnia, and Bozena Szeremeta.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Anna Dymna Receives the 2011 Modjeska Prize in Poland

 On May 29, 2012 in Kraków, the eminent Polish actress, Anna Dymna accepted the Modjeska Prize 2011 awarded to her by the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles in October 2011 for her extraordinary contributions to Polish culture.

The low-key, warm and friendly ceremony took place at a luncheon sponsored by the US General Consulate in Krakow and held at a gourmet Avanti restaurant, featuring Italian cuisine. The attendees included the Public Affairs Officer in the US General Consulate in Krakow Benjamin Ousley Naseman, and Mrs. Maria Brzostek the Educational Adviser in the Consulate, the President of the Board of Directors of the Polish American Historical Association, Prof. Neal Pease, the President of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, Prof. Mieczysław B.B. Biskupski, Prof. Dorota Praszałowicz of the Jagiellonian University, and many other scholars from several countries who participated in the Fifth Workshop on “American Ethnicity: Rethinking Old Issues, Asking New Questions” organized by Prof. Praszałowicz and her team.

The award was presented by an émigré music historian and poet, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, the President of the Modjeska Club and a Board member of the Polish American Historical Association. In addition to the 2011 Modjeska Prize, Ms. Dymna also received a certificate of congratulations from the City Council of Los Angeles.

Anna Dymna studied acting at the celebrated Theater School of Kraków and started her illustrious career while still a student, performing for the Julius Słowacki Theater in 1969. She joined the National Helena Modrzejewska Old Theatre in Kraków immediately after her graduation in 1973 and has performed on its stage since then. Like Modrzejewska, recognized for her talent and beauty, Dymna starred in major plays from the classical repertoire and in numerous films and television series, appearing in over 250 roles to a great critical acclaim. In 2002, she established a Poetry Salon presenting readings by the most celebrated poets and actors and recognized as one of the most interesting cultural activities in the region.

Dedicated to her charity work, in 2003 Dymna established her charity foundation Mimo Wszystko (“Against the Odds”) to provide services to the disabled. She is a recipient of numerous awards for her artistic achievements including the Golden Mask (1996, 1999, 2000), the Golden Screen (1984), and the Golden Lions (1994). In 2004, she received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta and The Order of the Smile from disabled children.

Ms. Dymna, accompanied by the Director of her charitable foundation Mimo Wszystko that provides assistance to disabled children, Mr. Marek Kowalski, was gracious and personable in her acceptance speech. She talked about her appreciation of this distinction and her pride of having been honored by an émigré organization maintaining its strong ties with Poland and named after her famous predecessor, actress Helena Modrzejewska. Another poignant link was provided by the fact that for over 40 years, Ms. Dymna has been performing at Kraków’s distinguished cultural institution, the Old Theater (Teatr Stary), named after Helena Modrzejewska.

She also explained the multitude of charitable and artistic duties that she has been engaged in that had prevented her from traveling to Los Angeles to accept the award in person in California. The current projects include a premiere of a new theater show Chłopcy [Boys) by Stanisław Grochowiak, ongoing series of widely popular Poetry Salons in Kraków, and several large-scale charitable events, including Zwyciężać Mimo Wszystko [To Win Against All Odds].

The international group of scholars gave the beautiful actress a standing ovation, in appreciation of her decades of astounding artistic contributions and over ten years of generous charitable activities, helping many children and individuals in Poland. With her talent and heart, Ms. Dymna knows how to make the world a better place.

The Modjeska Club created its Annual Modjeska Prize In 2010, in order to commemorate its patron, the famous Polish actress Helena Modrzejewska (known in America as Modjeska). The Modjeska Prize is awarded to recognize the achievements and contributions of actors to Polish culture. Other past recipients of Modjeska Prizes include actors Jan Nowicki and Marian Dziędziel.

For those who did not make it to Krakow, here are the links to a Photo Album from the Award Ceremony and, as a special treat, to the Krakow's signature melody - Hejnal Mariacki:



1. General Election Meeting of the Modjeska Club will be held on June 23, 2012 at 5 p.m. at the residence of Danuta and Wieslaw Zuchowski in Pasadena. Only members in good standing can vote.

2. The Revised Bylaws will be sent for approval to all Club members in good standing next week.  The vote will be either by mail to Chair of the Bylaws Committee, Andrew Z. Dowen, or in person at the General Election Meeting. We have updated the official English version of the Bylaws and will post the Polish translation on our website.

3. During the General Meeting a preview copy of the Modjeska Club History book will be available for review - Polish version only. If any Club members have pictures or memorabilia, especially from the early period, we are looking forward to receiving photographs for inclusion in the book.

3. We would like to organize a summer trip to Modjeska's House, Arden, in Orange County. The house is open for tours only twice a month and advance reservations are required. Further details will be posted after the elections.