Sunday, September 3, 2023

50 Years of Art at Modjeska Club - Exhibition Opening at Vienna Woods, 23 Sept. 2023, at 6pm


50 Years of Art: Artists of the Modjeska Club is an exhibit of artwork by five eminent Polish American painters and artists (here listed in chronological order, below by last name): Stanislaw Szukalski, Leonard Konopelski, Zbigniew Nyczak, Slawek Wisniewski, and Janusz Maszkiewicz. Held at Vienna Woods Gallery, 351 South  La Brea Blvd, Los Angeles 90036, the exhibition will be on view from September 23 to October 22, and the opening reception will take place on Saturday, 23 September 2023, at 6 pm. RSVP to to 20 September 2023.


Leonard Konopelski is a painter and graphic designer. Born in Poland in 1942, he was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland, graduating with a M.A. in 1973. In addition to painting, Konopelski designs film and theater posters, theater set and costumes. For over 25 years he served as professor teaching design and painting at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and is now its Professor Emeritus.  Earlier he has taught in CalArt, CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton, USC Los Angeles, University of Kansas, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, Mexico, University of Ulsan, South Korea and UMCS Lublin, Poland.


Konopelski is a member of the Krakart Group of Polish-American artists in California and often exhibits his works jointly with this group. He is also an art collector and samples from his collection of Polish Film Posters that he donated to the Art Center were recently exhibited in Pasadena.


Andrzej Kolodziej, Maja Trochimczyk, Leonard Konopelski at Antonina Konopelska Photo Exhibition, Vienna Woods, 2018

Konopelski is the designer of the poster for this Exhibition as well as of the logo of the Helena Modjeska Art & Culture Club that has been in use since the 1990s. The image of the Polish eagle symbolizing the nation, placed atop a classical Greek column in Ionic style, symbolizing cultural pursuit is a perfect expression of the Club’s mission, dedicated to the promotion of Polish Culture. In addition, Konopelski hosted many meetings of the Club, interviewing artists, or presenting films about artists or the arts. 


Founder of Vienna Woods, painter Janusz Maszkiewicz is a proficient craftsman, sculptor and a preeminent artist in the field of marquetry veneer inlays. He studied art restoration and chemistry at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. At the same time, he attended classes in drawing and painting. At the end of the 1970s, he was active in the artistic environment of Toruń. In the 1980s he lived in London. In 1989 he emigrated to New York, where he was represented by the Stendahl Gallery on Broadway in Soho. 

Maszkiewicz, Untitled, oil on canvas, 150 cm X 150 cm

In 1993, he moved west, to Santa Monica, California. There, he opened his own company, which dealt with the construction and design of furniture, as well as the restoration of works of art. Eventually he settled in Los Angeles at 351 South La Brea, where he opened his own gallery. "His large-format compositions are a testimony to great culture, artistic sensitivity and an extremely sublime, valuable synthesis" - says one of the curators of our exhibition, prof. zv. dr hab. Jan Wiktor Sienkiewicz. Maszkiewicz is a member of Krakart Group in Los Angeles and often exhibits with this group in California, New York, and Poland.  

Janusz Maszkiewicz – Nocturne, oil on canvas, 60’ X 60’


Zbigniew Nyczak is a graduate of the Faculty of Interior Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1976 – 1981). He has been living and creating in Los Angeles for over forty years. His paintings have won recognition in many circles of the artistic world; his artwork is also enjoying the interest of art sponsors and collectors both in the United States and abroad. His works have been presented in many renowned art institutions, including galleries, museums and exhibitions, to mention only the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, the Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles, the Old West Museum in Cheyenne and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery of American Art and Portraiture in Washington, where his portrait of William Schomaker has become part of the permanent exhibition. Three years ago, this image was printed as a 30-foot banner and placed on the façade of the building as a unique advertisement for this renowned museum. 

Nyczak's work can be seen in many cities, including New York, San Francisco, San Antonio, Palm Springs, Lexington, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Pasadena and the Simic gallery on the famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. In addition, his works have also found their way to international locations such as Warsaw, Dubai, Vienna, Paris and Nairobi. As a representative of the United States, he was invited by an Arab sheikh to Dubai, where he presented his series of racehorse paintings, focused on the world's best horse races. In the neighboring Emirate of Sharjah, he also taught painting classes at the local university for the son and daughter of the reigning sheikh. 

Nyczak was also invited to Poland by the producers of the historical epic film Ogniem i Mieczem (With Fire and Sword) to create documentation in the form of oil paintings, which served as elements of the film's promotion. These works have been featured in exhibitions and TV broadcasts, and all 20 paintings have been sold in an online auction conducted for a week on the morning programs of the TV station Polsat. The artist also created an oil portrait of Hugh Hefner's residence, Playboy Mansion West, which was used in the artist's successful promotion at a major gala, and then entered the host's private collection.

In Laguna Beach, Nyczak opened his own art gallery, where, as president of the artistic group of artists Contempo Art Association, he also supported other artists. Thanks to his intense artistic activity, he gained recognition and interest from many sponsors, including such prominent figures as Aaron Spelling, Hugh Hefner, Dick Kelly (Clinton's stepfather) and the Shoemaker Foundation. The subject matter of his works is extremely diverse, and his motto is: "It's not important what we paint, but how we do it." Zbigniew Nyczak is also a member of prestigious art organizations such as Oil Painters of America, American Plains Artists and California Art Club. 


Born in 1959 in Poland, Wisniewski is an American artist, living in Southern California, Los Angeles area. He studied medicine in Poland (M.D. Diploma), however was always involved in the creative arts, mostly oil painting on canvas. His first shows date back to the 1980s (Honorata Gallery in Lodz, Poland). He is a member of Zwiazek Artystow Plastykow Rzeczypospolitej-Polska.


Hyperinsomnia by Slawek Wisniewski, oil on canvas, 48’ X 36’

Wisniewski successfully showed his art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and was affiliated with the gallery ARSG for five years; he is currently represented by Saatchi Art Gallery, For several years, he worked with a group of NOHO-artists called EVA.

Just Once – City Painting by Slawek Wisniewski, oil on canvas, 48’ X 36’

 His paintings in surrealist styles include trompe l'oeil still life imagery. Currently, he works on a series of paintings showing expressions of Los Angeles, using color for its emotional impact in his interpretations of the city. In new works he uses also scribbles, as automatic form , intuitive and emotional ,non-linguistic visual signs to display reference to landscape or semiotic expression of thoughts. There are also some lines of poetry chosen from Rilke.  Some of the works are done in genuine Yves Klein Blue/IKB/. 

Blue Violin- Mixed media IKB,wood violin,pencil 24 in x 36in


Szukalski and Ossetynski, From Archives of Valerie Dudarew-Ossetynska-Hunken.  


Szukalski was a sculptor, whose education alternated between Poland and the U.S. In Poland, he founded a Slavic art group Szczep Rogatego Serca (The Horned Heart Tribe) and in America he was a part of the Chicago Renaissance. Szukalski's dynamic and symbolic artworks bright together influences from ancient cultures (Egyptian, Slavic, Aztec), and modernist techniques of cubism or expressionism. Known as Poland's "greatest living artist" in the 1920s, he lost all his sculptures and designs, destroyed by Germans in the bombing of Warsaw at the beginning of 1939. He was buried in rubble during another bombing in Katowice, but survived and several months later was allowed to leave Poland with his American-born wife, Joan. 

After the war, he settled in California and continued to design sculptures and monuments. Alas, he was only able to complete small models, portraits, paintings and medals and no large-scale sculptures were built. At the same time, he worked on developing an all-encompassing original, and bizarre anthropological theory of “everything” – races, languages, mythologies, etc., that he called the “science of Zermatism.”

Ossetynski, Mira Ziminska-Sygietynska (of Mazowsze) and Szukalski.
Archives of Valerie Hunken.

In the Californian period, he designed monuments of 1) Copernicus, 2) Polish officers, Prisoners of War, murdered in Katyn by Soviet NKVD, 3) French Guerilla Fighters of WWII, and 4) Helena Modjeska. Copies of two sketches of the Modjeska Monument are on display, thanks to Glen Bray of the Szukalski Foundation in Chatsworth. 

Building the Modjeska Monument was among pet projects of Leonidas Dudarew-Ossetynski (1910-1989) the founder and first President of the Club, who served on a Helena Modjeska Memorial Committee as its Executive Secretary, along with Pola Negri, and other Polish American activists. Szukalski was associated with the Modjeska Club in its first decade, 1971-1978; when he served on the Board of Directors as one of five Art Advisors with Roman Maciejewski, composer; Stefan Wenta, dancer and choreographer (Modjeska Club’s Honorary Member), Stefanie Powers, actress; and Yolanta Wojkiełło-Martusewicz, fiber artist.

Modjeska Monument by Szukalski, 1955 reproduction in a program of Modjeska Players,
a theatrical group of Dudarew-Ossetynski and Lidia Prochnicka. The exhibit will show a copy of the color original. 

Two designs of the Modjeska Monument will be shown. In an undated letter to Ossetyński, kept in the Polish Museum of America’s archives with an inscription “Helena Modjeska Memorial Committee” on its back  Szukalski wrote about his intention to portray the actress in his sculpture as a dancer that held a heart, a crown, and a moon in her hands. Posed asymmetrically like a flamenco dancer with her castanets, Szukalski’s Modjeska was towering above a knee-high model of St. Mary's Basilica in Kraków, Modjeska’s hometown. Szukalski described this building as both “the most characteristic monument of Kraków” and “the most beautiful temple.” In this design, the sculptor's intention was for Modjeska to become “a reflection of her national origin” so that she “radiates onto the audience of foreign nations with her proud heart.”

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