Thursday, May 28, 2009

CULTURE: Oscar-Winning "Romeo and Juliet" Costume Exhibition – NYC

by Staś Kmieć

Poland's Italian Queen Bona Sforza (1494–1557) was a patron of Renaissance culture and influenced fashion. As Polish women adopted their queen's sense of style, the Court began wearing jewels, gold chains, and beaded coifs. Fabrics such as lush velvets, silks, satins, brocades and gold cloth came into vogue.

During that period Italy was known as the fashion capital not only for dress, but also for dance and music. For a century, everything from the church choir (capella) to poetry, to speech, to food made an impression because it was Italian.

An understanding of the dress style in Poland imported from Italy during this period is on display in New York City as part of Tuscana in New York.

The Oscar-winning original costumes for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet designed by Danilo Donati are currently on view to the public in an exhibition at Time Warner Center. Through May 31 cultural enthusiasts can delight in the folds of fabric and design that authentically recall the extravagance of the Renaissance period.

In brilliant color and unique texture the costumes lent character to the richly figured tapestry director Franco Zeffirelli had woven in this retelling of Shakespeare's classic tale. Even through no music was playing, seeing the costumes again and in such close proximity evoked the strains of Nino Rota’s iconic score.

Zeffirelli created an unforgettable blend of beauty, elegance, sensuality, adventure and action. He captured the very texture of time and place, creating a 15-century Verona white with the heat of a blazing sun, aglow with rich and courtly costuming, and ablaze with earthly passion.

The meticulously researched and constructed costumes and all aspects of the production were voluptuous and sensuous.

In the film, the splashing reds, oranges, rich browns and greens contrasted well with the chaste blacks and whites and pastel shades used in some of the more intimate and dramatic scenes. They were the avenue for color and richness that entered the frame, which was otherwise filled with gray and ochre stones and the colors of nature.

Donati also received a British Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The film received additional Oscar for best cinematography, and was nominated for best picture and director.

At the opening of the exhibit Ambrogio Brenna, Minister of Economic Development for the Region of Tuscany, welcomed the guests to the two free art exhibits (the second being Italian Art Codex) celebrating the region’s literature and its many manifestations in art and culture worldwide. He relayed that the twenty Romeo and Juliet costumes were on loan from the Cerratelli Foundation in Tuscany.

Portrait of Regent Ippolita Maria Sforza of Bari (Italy), the mother of Polish Queen Bona Sforza.  
A gown worn by Poland's Italian Queen Bona Sforza circa 1521 
Portrait of Queen Bona by Jan Matejko

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CULTURE: “Toscana in New York” – NYC

by Staś Kmieć

Last night I attended Toscana in New York, a spectacular, sumptuous event sponsored by The Region of Tuscany and Toscana Promozione, in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in New York City. 

Hosted by the Tuscan Ministers of Health, Tourism and Economic Development, Toscana in New York, a weeklong series of events, will celebrate Tuscan lifestyle and give New Yorkers a chance to experience the art, cinema and way of life of this beloved Italian region. 

An understanding of Italian traditional society can allow a greater insight into the complexities of Poland’s cultural heritage. 

Poland has been connected historically and culturally to Italy for centuries through papal legates, commissioners, and secretaries. Beginning in the 15th century, merchants, miners, adventurers and scholars began arriving with increasing frequency. Hundreds of Poles studied at the Universities of Padua, Bologna, and Ferrara

Poles viewed Italy as a center of art and scholarship – a model of administration and life, and as a country whose customs were noble and worthy.   Italian influences in Polish culture came from Poland's Italian Queen Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1558). 

"Voglio Vivere Cosi" Tuscany's new branding campaign was premiered at the cocktail reception.  The evening of elegance, ambiance, music and luscious Italian wine and cuisine featured a preview of three magnificent Oscar-winning costumes from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film Romeo and Juliet.  The full exhibit of 20 costumes premieres tonight at the Time Warner Center (Columbus Circle and 59th St) and can be seen through May 31.  

HISTORY: Poland's Italian Queen Bona Sforza (1494 –1557)

The Italian Princess Bona, of the Sforza family, became Queen of Poland in 1518 as the second wife of King Zygmunt I.  At that time no one anticipated how significant a role she would play in European history. She was twenty-seven years younger than her husband, and had been raised in her parents' Italian court in Bari, where she was educated in diplomatic skills.

Born into a powerful Italian family, she was a champion of strong royal rule and an able assistant to her Polish king, which predestined her to play a leading role in the politics of the Polish court.  Towards the end of the King’s life, when he began to lose interest in matters of state, she practically took the role of governing Poland.

Królowa Bona was a patron of Renaissance culture, which began to further flourish in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. 

Known as the Culinary Queen, she is considered to have influenced the Polish and Lithuanian cuisines, having introduced many new dishes to the Commonwealth and bringing “włoszczyzna” (Italian vegetables) which were not grown in Poland.

Because of her love of fruits and vegetables, Queen Bona changed not only the Polish palate, but left a lasting influence on the language as well. From Italy she brought with her many foods which had never been seen in Polish kitchens.  Several vegetables, including celery, leeks and lettuce were first eaten in Poland during her reign.  She also brought her own cooks, gardeners and horticulturalists.  In the Polish language many terms for vegetables were assimilated from Italian.

In coming to Poland, Bona opened the door wide to Italian artists. Besides her courtiers, she brought with her builders, architects, artisans and painters.  Noteworthy among the Italian artists who were at the court during Bona's time is Bartolomeo Berrecci. His genius is immortalized in one of the most renowned masterpieces of Renaissance art in Poland, the Zygmunt Chapel Wawel Castle Cathedral in Kraków.

With Italian influences in art and architecture, the Polish architectural vocabulary bears the stamp of the Italian innovators. 

Staś Kmieć

TRAVEL – NEWS FROM POLAND: Poland prepares for Chopin Bicentennial

Plans are well under way for a year of celebrations to mark the upcoming bicentennial of one of Poland's favorite native sons – Frédéric (Fryderyk) Chopin.  

The Polish Sejm, or Parliament, has declared 2010 the Year of Fryderyk Chopin, and special concerts, recitals, conferences and other events will honor the great Romantic composer, who was born near Warsaw in 1810.  

The prestigious International Chopin Competition for pianists will mark its 16th edition in October 2010. Held every five years, the competition draws scores of young musicians from all over the world.  

Warsaw's Chopin Museum, with the world's largest collection of Chopin documents and other artifacts, will undergo a total redesign, modernization and expansion.  

A lavishly illustrated new guidebook - "Chopin's Poland" has already been published this year. It leads visitors to dozens of sites in Warsaw and elsewhere around the country where the composer lived, dined, studied, performed, visited and even partied.  

"Actually, Chopin doesn't need to be promoted, but we hope that Poland and Polish culture can be promoted through Chopin," said Monika Strugala, who is coordinating the Chopin 2010 program under the aegis of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, a body set up by the Sejm in 2001 to promote and protect Chopin's work and image.  

The son of a Polish mother and a French émigré father, Chopin was born in a manor house at Żelazowa Wola, about 30 miles, west of Warsaw, and moved to Warsaw as an infant. The manor is considered by many as a Chopin shrine and is undergoing extensive renovation as part of bicentennial preparations. Since the 1930s it has been a museum and center for concerts. 

– Staś Kmieć

ART: Polish Poster Exhibit at Museum of Modern Art – NYC


by Staś Kmieć

The Museum of Modern Art is presenting Polish Posters 1945-89, an installation drawn from the Museum's collection of 24 posters from the Cold War era of the Polish Poster School, which attracted international attention and admiration.

Drawing on a rich tradition in graphic arts, designers like Henryk Tomaszewski, Roman Cieślewicz, Jan Lenica, and Franciszek Starowieyski developed a sophisticated visual language characterized by surreal and expressionist tendencies, a bold use of color, and macabre, often satirical humor.

Polish posters were generally created to promote cultural events, opera, theatre, films and exhibitions. These posters images frequently contained explicit evocations of violence and sexuality and appeared at a time when there was little or no advertising.

The Communist state maintained a strict censorship policy and monopolized the commissioning and distribution of all printed media in that period, yet bureaucratic patrons colluded in turning a blind eye to the oblique but powerful critical commentaries contained in many of the posters.

On view: May 6 through November 30, 2009The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY; Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries, third floor.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MUSIC: Komeda Project at Polish Consulate – NYC

The Consulate General of Poland in New York

extends a public invitation to:

a Jazz concert

by Komeda Project

commemorating Krzysztof Komeda on the 40th anniversary of the composer’s death

Thursday, May 28th, 2009 at 7:30 PM

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited.

RSVP by Wednesday, May 27th at: 646-237-2114;

KOMEDA PROJECT, a NY/NJ based, acoustic jazz quintet was brought to life from a desire to perform - on this side of the Atlantic - and be able to hear live, music of Krzysztof Komeda again. The group, with its recordings and its live performances, aims to bring the music of Krzysztof Komeda, its beauty, emotional intensity and logical yet dramatic structure, to a wider audience

LITERATURE: Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis - NYC

Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis brings together three authors who have come to the field of reportage from very different backgrounds.

 In his devastating book Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia, Warsaw-based journalist Wojciech Tochman follows both Polish forensic scientist Ewa Klonowska as she exhumes mass graves in Bosnia, and the families of the victims as they wait for their loved ones to be identified. 

The discussion will be followed by a wine and cheese reception, during which authors will sign their books, which will be available for purchase. 

This event is organized in conjunction with The Polish Book Institute’s exhibition at Book Expo America (Javits Center, Booth #2423). 

THEATER: Sławomir Mrożek's "On the Sea" - Buffalo, NY

An evening of Absurdist one-act plays
THE LESSON by Eugene Ionesco
ON THE SEA by Sławomir Mrozek

Third floor – North Buffalo's Great Arrow Building
255 Great Arrow Avenue
Buffalo, NY

Admission is free with donations gratefully accepted
Reservations are not available;
seating is on a first-come-first-served basis
doors open ½ hour prior to each performance.

Slawomir Mrozek’s ON THE SEA on its surface is the tale of three men stranded on a raft, but beneath the surface of this deceptively simple and semi-sarcastic situation is a fascinating exploration of how society is organized . . . and how easily it breaks down!

The Subversive Theatre Collective
is comprised of students and recent graduates.
For more information call 716-408-0499

Saturday, May 16, 2009

EVENT: Polish Folk Dance Party – Watertown, MA

The Krakowiak Polish Dancers of Boston have been performing Polish folk dances for audiences worldwide for over 70 years. They will be teaching some dances, accepting requests and playing music for dances you may already know

Questions or RSVP to:

Punch, chips and dip provided
Donations to refreshment table welcome

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't Miss the May Issue of Polish American Journal


  • Poland to Publish Online List of World War II Dead 
  • Travelogue:  Adventures in Poland – Part V
  • Authors Share Love of Dance with Next Generation
  • Kosciuszko Foundation Offers $1,000 in Essay Contest
  • Poland to Sell LOT Airlines
  • Betrayal in the Forest (WWII)
  • The Polish Wedding in a Nutshell
  • The Foods of a Polish Wedding
  • Vatican Defrocks St. Stan’s Bozek
  • Helena Modrzejewska Plaque Unveiled
  • Father Jan: A Priest for All Seasons
  • U.S. Supports Eastern Partnership
  • John Paul II Remembered
  • TV Station Apologies for Error
  • Deportation to Russia and Katyn Massacre Anniversaries
  • Jewish History Tours of Poland
  • Pressing Matters at the Polish Museum
  • GM’s Alexandra Dymowska
  • How do I Take Care of my Amber Jewelry?
  • Cooperstown Honors Kubek
  • Reflections from the Great Depression in Poland (1930-1936)
  • and much, much more!

DON’T MISS A SINGLE ISSUE. Subscribe on-line by clicking HERE.

FREE-one one-year subscription for a friend or family member. Click 
HERE for details.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

FILM: Oscar nominated "Katyń" – Schenectady, NY

The Proctors Theater – Schenectady, NY

Global Cinema: KATYŃ
Friday, May 22 at 2:30, 5:10 & 7:45 p.m.

The Oscar nominated film, Katyń follows the story of four Polish families whose lives are torn apart when, at the outset of WWII, a great number of Polish soldiers fall into the hands of Soviet troops and later brutally become victims of Stalinism along with citizens in the Katyń forest in 1940.

This war drama is not rated; however deals with a serious subject matter.
This film is in Polish, Russian and German with English subtitles.

Total running time: 121 minutes.

Tickets are $6

To buy tickets online:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

EVENT: Parish Festival – Cohoes, NY

St. Michael’s Church  
20 Page Avenue - Cohoes, NY  
Friday May 29th thru Sunday May 31st  

A FAMILY oriented event with  
Amusement Rides & Children’s Activities  

(Pierogi, Gołąbki, Hamburgers, Hot dogs, 
Soda, Beer, Chocolate Fountain)  

Music & Dancing to  
The Rymanowski Brothers Band 
Tony's Polka Band  

Polish & American Craft vendors Dance Groups, Chinese auction, Vegas Games of Chance, Raffle and much more  

Friday – 5 to 10 pm Saturday – 12 to 10 pm 
and Sunday – 12 to 6pm  

Any one under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your ID  

For more information: Robert 518-237-9368 or Marion 518-785-9002