Friday, August 18, 2023

Report from 2022-2023 & Preview of Fall 2023 Events of the Modjeska Club


Maja Trochimczyk, President 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to describe the effects of our work during the first year after the official end of the COVID-19 pandemic and the return to the format of events, in which we can finally participate in person, after two years of activities conducted in the Zoom format. During the General Meeting on June 25, 2022, I presented a report on the previous four years and was elected, along with the new Board, for the two-year term: 31 votes were cast for me as the President and the new Board, and there were 7 votes against (this number is significant). The work of the previous Board, under my leadership, was approved after the General Meeting voted to accept the report of the Audit Committee submitted by its Chair, Danuta Żuchowska. On the new Board I was joined by: the well-known actress KATARZYNA ŚMIECHOWICZ as the Vice-President, for the first time in our group, and four ladies with whom I have cooperated in the last two years (although in different functions): BEATA CZAJKOWSKA as the Secretary, MARIA KUBAL as the Treasurer, and SYL VES and ANNA SADOWSKA as Directors. Since the first Board meeting on July 9, 2022, we have been working in a four-person team: Maja Trochimczyk, Katarzyna Śmiechowicz, Anna Sadowska (Treasurer since July 2012), and Beata Czajkowska. I will write about the reasons for these changes and other  administrative matters separately. Let us now examine the results of our work.

As a reminder, in the period 2018-2020, together with the previous Boards, whose composition changed occasionally, I organized 24 events (including 16 club meetings and 8 events held in cooperation with other organizations). We presented our Annual Modjeska Prizes to JADWIGA BARAŃSKA (2018), MARIA NOWOTARSKA & AGATA PILITOWSKA from the Polish Theater in Toronto (2019) and ANDRZEJ SEWERYN (2020, virtually). In the two years of the 2020-2022 pandemic, we prepared 21 meetings, with six held in person, including a wonderful 50th Anniversary Ball on 10 October 2021 at the University Club in Pasadena. At this ball, in the presence of about 100 people, our Modjeska Prizes were received by BEATA POŹNIAK in person and JAN ENGLERT virtually. WOJCIECH KOCYAN played Chopin's waltz for us, and MAREK PROBOSZ, the Master of Ceremonies, with his wife, Małgorzata, led us all in an unforgettable polonaise. There was also a mini-exhibition about the history of the Club, and the first presentation of our 50-year history book. With a great effort of a large group of volunteers, we published a 380-page Album 50-lecia Klubu Kultury im. Heleny Modrzejewskiej (50th Anniversary Album of Helena Modjeska Culture Club), in PDF format in free distribution, due to a grant from the Consulate of the Republic of Poland ($2,000). There were also hardcover and softcover editions, sent to libraries. Since the publisher is my Moonrise Press, and since, per our tax-exempt Corporation's Articles of Incorporation (Article V), corporation officers or members may not "receive net income or other assets" from the Corporation, all net proceeds from the publication of the Album are donated to the Club's treasury. This wonderful, colorful Album is a great document of our history and numerous achievements. There are too few such works about the Polish community on the American West Coast.

Audience at W. Wysocki's performance Zyciorys, Illusion Magic Theater, 7 May 2023

Another achievement of the previous term was the restoration of our website, closed by the internet provider GoDaddy's decision to change their software system in the spring of 2019. The Club’s page was saved by ELŻBIETA CZAJKOWSKA, who as a volunteer made copies of all materials – over 350 texts and 1600 photos. Then, in the spring of 2022, she designed and built a new website for us, or rather two sites, because she divided the information into an English version,, and a Polish version, For her work on the Club’s website and graphic designs for the 50th Anniversary Album, Elżbieta Czajkowska received honoraria from grants that I obtained for this purpose from the Consulate of the Republic of Poland and the State of California. Thanks to Elżbieta's talents and hard work (including many hours for free, because the fees covered only part of her time) before the General Meeting in 2022, the Modjeska Club had in place wonderful, modern, informative websites, featuring all the materials collected by the Club since 1996, although in a different format. Instead of hundreds of separate reports, Elżbieta made PDF files with sets of reports for relevant years and placed a special PDF reader on the website, wherein you can even turn virtual pages! In addition, the archives contain the entire 50th Anniversary Album (plus separate chapters in each part of the archive) and video from Zoom meetings and other Club programs from the past.

Anna Sadowska and Maja Trochimczyk  with Jan Englert and his awards, 24 September 2022

So we started our 2022-2024 term in great shape. In the first year of working as a new Board, from September 2022 to July 2023, we prepared 11 Club events. The first two meetings in the 2022-23 season were related to the arrival to California of the Artistic Director of the National Theater and the legend of Polish theater, JAN ENGLERT with his wife, BEATA ŚCIBAKÓWNA, to personally receive the Modjeska Prize, which took place at the residence of Maria and Jerzy Menclewicz in Orange County on 24 September 2022. The visit in September 2022 was jointly prepared by four organizations: the Modjeska Club, the PAPA Club from Orange County, the Jaskółka Amphitheater from San Diego, and the Theater Department of the University of California in Los Angeles. UCLA hosted a seminar on Polish theater for university professors and students on 22 September 2022. In Orange County, we presented the Modjeska Prize during a party co-organized by the PAPA Club on Saturday, 24 September 2022. At the same time, Jan Englert talked about his career and received diplomas from the California State Senate (Sen. Antony Portantino), Los Angeles County (Kathryn Barger) and Orange County (Chairman of the Board Donald P. Wagner).

On Sunday, 25 September 2022, in the Auditorium of the Beverly Hills Public Library, Jan Englert and Beata Ścibakówna showed their mastery of the stage in the performance of fragments of the epic poem Kwiaty Polskie (Polish Flowers) by JULIAN TUWIM (1894-1953). In this work (a long time ago already presented at the Club), the poet reflects on the heroism, suffering and resilience of the Polish nation. This memorable poetry and music performance was in Polish, with my English translation of the text published in the program booklet. Interludes with Chopin's music were selected and performed by the outstanding pianist Dr. WOJCIECH KOCYAN, professor at Loyola Marymount University and member of the Club since 2018. Kocyan played on the Blüthner upright piano from Kasimoff-Blüthner Piano Co. (such a master on the upright piano? That's a separate story, there was a real battle to bring to the Library even this small upright piano….). Nonetheless, I had the great pleasure of driving the Englerts to meetings from Vista in San Diego County, where they were staying with the hospitable Halina and Marek Brzeszcz, the owners of the Jaskółka Amphitheater. Over 120 people came to Englert and Ścibakówna's performance in Vista; there were just as many viewers in attendance in Beverly Hills, and a hundred more at the reception in Orange County. The seminar at UCLA had about 30 attendees. A great success!

Darek Świątkowski, Beata Ścibakówna, Marek Brzeszcz, Jan Englert, Halina Brzeszcz, Grażyna Świątkowska & Maja Trochimczyk after the Modjeska Prize presentation for Jan Englert, 24 September 2022.

 Before the beginning of the season, on 17 August 2022, the funeral of STEFAN WENTA took place. He was an Honorary Member of the Club since 2011, an excellent dancer and choreographer, a former Opera and Ballet star from the Grand Theater in Warsaw.  In the first decade of the Modjeska Club’s activity from 1971 to 1978, Stefan Wenta was among the five Artistic Advisors of the Club and often hosted its meetings in his studio, at a time when Leonidas Dudarew-Ossetyński (1910-1989), prince-actor-director-journalist, served as the President. At Stefan's funeral, the Polish church in Los Angeles was filled to the brim with his students, dancers and choreographers, while the Club itself was represented by four people. The representation of the Club at the funeral of Daniela and Marian Kosiński was similarly meagre, though Ms. Daniela was even the Vice President of our organization ... but their farewell was touching, with a flight of white doves and a white-and-red wreath from the Club that I brought from Los Angeles (5 October 2022).

In October 2022, lovers of contemporary music could listen to a conversation with Prof. dr hab. HANNA KULENTY, a composer known all over the world, who previously visited our Club in 2017. On Sunday, 9 October 2022, at the Newman Recital Hall, Prof. Kulenty gave the Annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital,  combined with a concert of her music (organizer: Center for Polish Music of the University of Southern California). A letter of congratulations from the Club appeared in the Lecture’s program, funded by a donation from my publishing house Moonrise Press (the Club did not have enough funds for its annual PMC donation). Before the conversation with our Club Members on Saturday, 8 October 2022, in the music studio of Róża Kostrzewska Yoder and Douglas Yoder, Hanna Kulenty conducted a fascinating seminar on improvisation for their students. Unfortunately, the recording of this lecture illustrated with musical examples "from the keyboard" has not survived, although it was broadcast over the Internet.

For Saturday, 5 November 2022, we invited members and friends of the Club as well as students, teachers and parents from the Polish School to a special concert of the founder of the Piramidy group, singer, composer and guitarist PIOTR KAJETAN MATCZUK from Warsaw. Matczuk previously visited us in the spring of 2019 and we enjoyed his performance very much. The solo concert, entitled The Most Beautiful Songs From Polish Films and TV Series, took place in the parish hall of the Church of Our Lady of the Bright Mount / Sanctuary of John Paul II in Los Angeles. Admission was free for students up to 18 years old and for members of our Club; other listeners had to pay for tickets, $25 per person. Unfortunately, very few people attended the concert: instead of the expected one hundred people from the Polish School and the Parish, only about 40 Club members and their friends came. As promised, we donated the proceeds to the Church and School.

At the end of November, an outdoor concert took place in Venice Beach, advertised, but not organized by our Club. The REBEL BABEL ENSEMBLE concert from Poland, together with an international group of musicians, was entitled The Brasswood California/Beats 4 Peace and took place on Sunday, 27 November 2022. As the organizers wrote: "This amazing event aims to promote, expand and cultivate cooperation between musicians from Poland, the USA, Ukraine and other countries in the fields of art and education” and was planned by the leader of the Rebel Babel Ensemble, Łukasz L.U.C. Rostkowski.

The Modjeska Club and friends met on Saturday, 17 December 2022, at the annual CHRISTMAS CAROLING to celebrate the holidays, break the Christmas wafer (“opłatek”) with best wishes for the next year, listen to Chopin played by prof. WOJCIECH KOCYAN, sing Christmas carols with OLIVIA KIERDAL and enjoy an excellent, traditional Polish dinner prepared by the hosts, Helena and Stanley Kołodziey from Beverly Hills and the Club's Board. Kocyan needs no introduction; the Gramophone magazine recognized his CD as one of the 50 best recordings in the world! Olivia Kierdal was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and since 2019 has lived in Los Angeles. She is a pianist, singer and songwriter who has over 2 million listeners on Spotify, where she has published 15 songs. She led the Club members in singing Christmas carols so wonderfully that even the Consulate of the Republic of Poland posted one of these carols  on its Facebook page.


Honorary Members: Alicja Bobrowska (recognized in December 2022).

 In 2022, the Club made two presentations of honorary membership. In the summer of 2021, the Board adopted a resolution to grant Honorary Membership to Consul General JAROSŁAW ŁASIŃSKI. The presentation was to take place at the 50th anniversary ball, but at the time he was in mourning after the death of his wife. Therefore, the award ceremony took place before the Consul's return to Poland, in Santa Monica in August 2022, with the participation of Maja Trochimczyk, Anna Sadowska, Beata Czajkowska, Elżbieta Trybuś and Chris Justin. Consul Łasiński supported the activities of our Club primarily with the joint project of Kate Liu's ceremonial concert at the Colburn School of Music, on the occasion of Independence Day in November 2018, financed by a grant from the Polish National Foundation. During our twice-extended term, 2018-2022, Consul Łasiński approved three grants for the Club: for the concerts of the band Piramidy, Wiktoria Tracz with Krzysztof Dzikowski in 2019 and for the publication of the Album of the 50th anniversary of the Club in 2021. The Consul also honored our Club with a letter of congratulations and a special plaque on the occasion of our 50th anniversary in October 2021.

Jarosław Łasiński with representatives of previous Board for 2020-2022: Anna Sadowska, Maja Trochimczyk, Beata Czajkowska, and dr. Elżbieta Trybuś.

The presentation of Honorary Membership to ALICJA BOBROWSKA, actress, artist, model and the first post-war Miss Polonia (1957) was made during the Christmas Caroling Party in Beverly Hills. The program of the event and online materials featured a biography of the artist, born in 1936, crowned Miss Polonia in 1957, participating in Miss Universe in California in 1958, working in Polish film and theater until 1981, when she came to USA and stayed here permanently, participating in Club meetings as its member. Unfortunately, our winner could not attend the meeting, so she received diplomas from the Club and the state of California by mail. In return, she donated to the Club Archives a valuable souvenir, a photograph of Helena Modjeska with her signature, which Bobrowska received from the grandson of the famous factory owner and friend of the legendary actress, Mr. Kronenberg in 1958.


Alicja Bobrowska joins the group of outstanding creators of Polish culture, members of our Club, who for many years actively participated in the events and meetings of the Club and were awarded the title of Honorary Member. Among them are: the distinguished film director JERZY ANTCZAK, his wife, the legendary star of theater and film JADWIGA BARAŃSKA (awarded our Modjeska Prize in 2018), actress of Polish origin STEFANIE POWERS, very active in the first decade of the Club as a student of the founder of the Club Leonidas Dudarew-Ossetyński, and the above-mentioned dancer and choreographer STEFAN WENTA. Honorary members of the Club were also consuls at the end of their terms in office: JAN SZEWC, ROMAN CZARNY, MACIEJ KRYCH, and KRZYSZTOF KASPRZYK. I admit that I do not know this for certain, because previous historians of the Club did not maintain a complete, updated list of Honorary Members (except those former presidents and others who still do not pay dues, as a reward for volunteering 20-40 years ago). Recently, for example, I discovered that Dr. FRANCISZKA TUSZYŃSKA became an Honorary Member of the Club in 1984; she had served as the Vice President on the Ossetyński's board, a Secretary on the Jerzy Gąssowski’s Board, and a director of the Polish School in Los Angeles since 1972.

Katarzyna Smiechowicz and Marek Probosz with Modjeska Prizes.    

The Award Ceremony of the Modjeska Prizes for 2022, with awardees selected by the previous Club Board in the spring of 2022, was  postponed to February 19, 2023. The winners were a member of the Club and the current Vice-President, actress KATARZYNA ŚMIECHOWICZ and a great friend of the Club and a frequent participant in its events, the outstanding actor MAREK PROBOSZ. The award ceremony took place at the artistic residence of Monique Chmielewski Lehman and her husband, former NASA manager and Navy officer David Lehman in Pasadena. Two videos showed a montage of achievements of our laureates, and I conducted the interview with the actors, as the host of the event. I was also, together with Beata Czajkowska and Anna Sadowska, the head of the provisioning section and the cleaner. During the same evening, diplomas from California authorities with thanks for years of work as volunteers were presented to JADWIGA INGLIS and SŁAWOMIR BRZEZIŃSKI. More than 80 people filled the small living room at the Lehman residence, where there were not enough chairs, but plenty of food and drinks for everyone... Our awards received wide coverage in the press: Polish American Journal, Gwiazda Polarna, Culture Avenue, Post-Eagle, Polish Filmmakers Association, and Super Ekspress!

Jolanta Zych, Leonard Konopelski and Polish fonts, at Polski Projekt Exhibition 
on 16 February 2023 at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. 

In February and March, in our correspondence to Club members and guests, we noted other events related to the promotion of Polish culture in Los Angeles. On 16 and 17 February 2023, the Polski Projekt Exhibition showed the history of Polish fonts accompanied by posters from the collection of Leonard Konopelski at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; guests could meet artists on February 16 and watch Polish films on February 17. On Sunday, 5 March 2023, we invited our members to a performance of Kazimierz Braun's Norwid’s Return in an unforgettable performance by Marek Probosz, accompanied by pianist Łukasz Yoder at the Odyssey Theater (the play received our donation of $500). 

Poster of the Krakart Group exhibition at Vienna Woods, 17 March 2023, Los Angeles.

The Krakart Group invited us to the opening of the painting exhibition in Vienna Woods, Los Angeles (17 March 2023). On Saturday, 18 March 2023, a vocal and instrumental recital by mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sadej and pianist Wojciech Kocyan took place at the Murphy Recital Hall, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. It was a fantastic program of fairy tales, including songs by Szymanowski, Dvorak, Duparc and Debussy. The Club was not the organizer of this concert, but we encouraged everyone to listen to the wonderful recital of our member Wojciech Kocyan and Katarzyna Sądej from Canada, who had sang for us in 2018.

Katarzyna Śmiechowicz, dir. Henryka Łazarz, Katarzyna Winnicka, teachers, students at a lecture by Curator Katarzyna Winnicka at Polish School, 4 March 2023, Los Angeles.  

The next meeting organized by the Club at the Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga was a great success: "Icons from the 15th-19th centuries and the work of Zdzisław Beksiński in the collection of the Historical Museum in Sanok." The lecture by CURATOR KATARZYNA WINNICKA on Saturday, 4 March 2023 presented the most important examples of icons from the largest such icon collection in Poland and Europe. Icons are sacred paintings (Marian, Christological or Hagiographic), painted on wooden boards and used as religious artefacts in Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches. The lecture was given in Polish, with color slides. The second part of the lecture, at the special request of our Club Members, covered the work of Zdzisław Beksiński (1929-2005), one of the most famous contemporary Polish artists. In 2001, Beksiński bequeathed his entire artistic output to the Historical Museum in Sanok, to which he donated about 300 works during his lifetime. 

Alexander Rybak, Maja Trochimczyk, & Katarzyna Winnicka.

Mrs. Winnicka's visit to California was organized together with Jerzy Barankiewicz from the Polish Art Salon in San Diego, where she gave a lecture on 11 March 2023. On Saturday, March 4, Winnicka also made a presentation about icons in the Parish Hall for children, teachers and parents from the Polish School in Los Angeles, I looked after a guest myself, organizing trips to the Huntington Library and the Getty Center; then JADWIGA & ANDREW INGLIS took over, providing the Curator from Sanok with hospitality and the next series of trips. To enliven the lecture at Bolton Hall Museum, I invited as celebrity guest the Belarusian-Norwegian violinist ALEXANDER RYBAK. He played one violin solo piece at the beginning and sang, accompanying himself on the violin, a fragment of the famous 2009 hit Fairytales, winner of the Eurovision festival, on the “greatest hits” charts in nine European countries. I met him while playing with my kites in our local mountains in Sunland!

In the same Historical Monument no. 2 of the City of Los Angeles, i.e. the Bolton Hall Museum, an interesting meeting was held on 25 March 2023 with the former Consul of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, writer and editor MARIUSZ M. BRYMORA. The topic of the meeting was the newly published book by Romuald Spasowski, entitled The Ambassador's Confession, edited from over 3,000 pages of materials, reduced to 750 pages by Mr. Brymora. During the event you could buy books and get an autograph, with the editor's dedication. For his services to the Club during the presidency of Andrew Z. Dowen (2013-2018), Mr. Brymora received Honorary Membership.


Grażyna and Mariusz Brymora, Maja Trochimczyk, Andrew and Lila Dowen, Beata Czajkowska with certificates of Honorary Membershiph for Mr. Brymora, Bolton Hall Museum, 25 March 2023.                                                                  

In yet another multi-club cooperation, we presented the HYBRYDY THEATER of the University of Warsaw in the performance Life is a theater in Polish. The show took place on Sunday, 2 April 2023 at the Illusion Magic Theater (formerly known as Magicopolis) in Santa Monica. The event was part of the Spring of Polish Culture in the Western United States program, supported by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles. The Consulate awarded grants for three of our projects: 1) Katarzyna Winnicka's lecture, 2) Hybrydy Theatre, 3) Wojciech Wysocki's play with live music by Piotr Matczuk. The grants paid for the venue rental and AV technician costs. Life Is a Theater was announced as a concert of hits by the masters of Polish song, Agnieszka Osiecka and Wojciech Młynarski, graduates of the University of Warsaw and co-founders of the Hybrydy Theatre, whose lyrics keep delighting and entertaining subsequent generations of Poles. Their most beautiful hits in new arrangements were to be intertwined with funny skits from the literary cabaret from pre-war and post-war Poland. MAGDALENA ROSSOWSKA, DOMINIKA ŚWIĄTEK, and the director of the theater MACIEJ DZIĘCIOŁOWSKI performed with playback accompaniment. Unfortunately, the program disappointed more than half of the very large audience, including the organizers. I was even more sorry that I hosted Hybrydy musicians at home and took them on trips, e.g., to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Previously, they performed in Los Angeles in 2013 (Hybrydy) and in February 2020 (Dominika Świątek with pianist Andrzej Perkman). It was great then, but not now. Pity. However, it is true that members of other Polish organizations where the Hybrydy Theater performed were very happy – in San Diego, Yorba Linda, Sacramento and San Leandro.

We were not disappointed, however, by the wonderful actor Wojciech Wysocki in a poetic monodrama based on Zbigniew Herbert's texts, entitled Życiorys, Curriculum vitae. Written, directed and performed by WOJCIECH WYSOCKI, the show had live music composed by PIOTR KAJETAN MATCZUK. The performance took place on Sunday, 7 May 2023, at the Illusion Magic Theater (formerly Magicopolis) in Santa Monica. The play is a presentation of carefully selected poems by Zbigniew Herbert, combined by the actor-director into a vivid whole, telling the story of a person's life from birth to death. We were pleased to see over 110 people in the audience; admission was free due to a grant from the Polish Consulate that prohibited the sale of tickets. Wysocki and Matczuk also performed in Yorba Linda for Klub PAPA.

Wojciech Wysocki and Piotr Kajetan Matczuk on stage at Illusion Magic Theater; the play Życiorys , 7 May 2023.

For the last Club meeting before the summer break, we booked a trip to ARDEN, Helena Modjeska's Historic Home and Gardens in Modjeska Canyon, Orange County, on 8 July 2023; 18 people signed up; eight canceled the day before and three cars got lost. It turned out that GPS lead guests astray, pointing out that the Modjeska House was either at the very beginning of the canyon or at its end, i.e., it was impossible to find it without entering the whole address, including the property number. The name alone was not enough! And thus our trip took place with just two people: I drove Beata Czajkowska, Secretary of the Board, because Kasia Śmiechowicz and Anna Sadowska were in Poland. 

At Arden, ROB BROWN, a volunteer-docent, prepared an interesting presentation of slides, with photos that were unknown even to me, and I have been studying Modjeska’s life as a historian since 2011! He also recounted the history of this residence and of the Modjeska family. Mr. Brown invited us to further cooperate with Arden in the future. We accepted the invitation and will participate in the "open house" in Arden on 7 October 2023, commemorating the star's birthday of 12 October 1840.

On that day, there will be a presentation of Celebrating Modjeska in California: History of Helena Modjeska Art & Culture Club, an English-language volume of our history, supported by a grant from the Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska in the amount of PLN 38,500. SWP previously assigned to us a grant for the performance of Wysocki and Matczuk, but we received funds for this purpose from the Consulate of the Republic of Poland, so we had to give it up, due to the double-financing rule. The SWP funds were instead assigned to the book. The publisher will be Moonrise Press and all net proceeds will be donated to the Club. The grant will cover the costs of layout by Ula Jaskółka Beaudoin, as well as printing and library distribution. For 2022-2023 we were promises $3,000 by the Consulate, and we used $2,500 (the rental and AV costs were lower). For 2023-24, we already have a promise of about $9,000! Excellent!



The season 2022-23 was also the time of farewells. Long-time member MARIAN KOSIŃSKI† died on 24 September 2022 and his wife DANIELA KOSIŃSKA† on 29 September 2022; she served as the Club’s Vice President in the past, and they were close to their 60th wedding anniversary.  The funeral of MONIKA KRÓL†, also a dedicated Club member for many years, was on 29 October 2022. They will live on in our memories; we are grateful for their presence in the Modjeska Club.


Janusz Maszkiewicz, Sunrise

We are planning to start the fall season on 23 September 2023 with an exhibition of Artists of the Modjeska Club at the Vienna Woods gallery in Los Angeles. So far, LEONARD KONOPELSKI, the author of our most popular logo, an outstanding painter and retired art professor from the Art Center College of Design, ZBIGNIEW NYCZAK, whose work is even at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. and SŁAWEK WIŚNIEWSKI, a painter with limited experience as a member of the Club, but with an impressive artistic output, have promised to participate. We are glad that d the host of the gallery, JANUSZ MASZKIEWICZ, will also show some of his artwork. Finally, the Szukalski Archives allowed us free display of STANISŁAW SZUKALSKI’S designs for a Helena Modjeska Monument. 

ZBIGNIEW NYCZAK will tell us more about his art and his 40-year career on 21 October 2023 at Centerpoint Club in Playa Vista. We will breeze through 150 slides of his paintings and enjoy watching videos. Special thanks to Dr. and Dr. Targowski for securing for us the space.

Monique and Artur Chmielewski at Museum Powstania Warszawskiego, May 2023.

The Club will then meet on 18 November 2023 at the Lehman residence for the presentation of the book of memories about Henryk Chmielewski, or Papcio Chmiel, written by his children, MONIQUE & ARTUR CHMIELEWSKI. They both presented their childhood memories during a book tour in Poland, organized by Prószyński and Ska. On 15 April 2023 we admired Monique’s beautiful tapestry at the Crystal Cathedral and now there will be a meeting in our Club. 

Another book will be presented by its author AGNIESZKA COUDERQ, who explored the fascinating history of a Polish Jesuit Michał Boym in China in the 17th century (this event was moved from December to 27 January, Playa Vista). 

The traditional, elegant CHRISTMAS CAROLING will take place at the residence of Helena and Stanley Kołodziey in Beverly Hills, on Saturday, 16 December 2023.  We will learn about the luxurious and creative life of  Polish soprano Hanna Puacz, known as Ganna Walska, a collector of diamonds and artwork, the founder of Lotusland botanical gardens in Montecito near Santa Barbara.  We will sing Christmas Carols with Olivia Kierdal.

When will the presentation of the Modjeska Prize to JANUSZ GAJOS be scheduled we do not know yet, because it depends on the requirements of our eminent awardee. 

However, it is already known that in the spring of 2024 there will be a meeting with Polish women in space, i.e. female Polish scientists from JPL/NASA (March) and a presentation of poetry by members of the Club, including a book of sonnets by Konrad Tademar Wilk.

I dream of a meeting dedicated to the outstanding writer ALEKSANDR JANTA (Janta-Połczyński), a friend of our first President, and a person with amazing achievements as a defender of Polish culture. We owe him, for his assistance in the transfer of Wawel treasures back to Poland and the donation of many rare manuscripts to Polish institutions, e.g., letters of Chopin & his friend, Julian Fontana. Promoting the interwar intelligentsia with noble roots is not particularly popular today. All the more worth it! At the same time, I would like to reactivate the Club’s Reading Theatre, founded in 1973 by Ossetyński, with the world's first presentation of Mrożek's Emigrants. I am particularly interested in the Janta's play The Dividing Line, so current nowadays!

Our Board Secretary, Beata Czajkowska (a pianist/ teacher of opera singers) would like to organize a stage concert of duets and arias from Stanisław Moniuszko's opera Straszny Dwór, perhaps in cooperation with the orchestra in Riverside, led by a Polish conductor and violinist Tomasz Golka. These are very ambitious plans. What will actually take place, we shall see. Save the dates for the autumn season: September 23, October 7 & 21, November 18, and December 3 & 17!                      

Finally, a few words about me. In the summer of 2022, I was invited to join the board of the Polish American Congress of Southern California as Vice President for Public Relations. I accepted the invitation, and every month I take part in board meetings. Once in a while I give short speeches on Polish national anniversaries, such as the outbreak of World War II or the Constitution of May 3rd. My listeners are students, teachers and parents in a Polish school. Cooperation with the Polish Alma Mater is a good way of disseminating information about the culture and history of Poland. As a poet, I am still the president of the California State Poetry Society, and editor-in-chief of the California Quarterly . I've also published two volumes of poetry, with good reviews so far: Bright Skies. Selected Poems, with my nature photographs, and an anthology of 12 poets, Crystal Fire: Poems of Joy and Wisdom. With Ambika Talwar, a painter and poet, we had an exhibition of my photographs and her paintings at the Scenic Drive Gallery in Monrovia. As a music historian, I write articles on commission from time to time: the article "Patriotism in the salon: traditions of home singing in Maria Szymanowska's family" appeared in the journal of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Studia Chopinowskie, No. 1-2, 2022, p. 4- 40.                                                     

See you soon at the Modjeska Club and elsewhere!

Maja Trochimczyk, President

Los Angeles, 8 August 2023 

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