Polish Arts Club of Youngstown
80 Years of Sharing our Polish Culture

The Polish Arts Club of Youngstown is one of the first such clubs in the nation and ironically was created at the suggestion of a non-Pole.

In the summer of 1934, Florence Turowski traveled to Poland on a trip sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation of New York City. While there she met Dr. Eric Kelly, a Dartmouth University professor, who, although he did not have Polish roots, loved Poland and wrote many books about Polish history and culture.

Dr. Kelly asked Turowski to seek out his friend and former student, Joseph Butler, then director of The Butler Institute of American Art, and offer the loan of his 19th Century Polish Art Collection for exhibit.

Butler was eager to show the collection and suggested Turowski encourage other Polish artists to exhibit their works at the Butler Gallery. He also suggested that an organization be founded to assist with the travel, insurance and advertising costs and cataloging of the exhibits.

The Polish Arts Club of Youngstown was formally organized on January 17, 1935 with thirteen members. The founding members along with Florence Turowski, were Ada Holliday, Joseph Koc, Joseph Kope, Sr., Mary Kopicenski, Marie Kryzan, Bennett Kunicki, Jayne Kunicki, Atty. Felix Mika, Helen Mlynarski, Vincent Organic, Helene Orze, and Thomas Romanick. The group met at the Turowski home on Oxford Avenue. The first exhibit in 1936 at The Butler drew more than 600 people, who enjoyed Dr. Kelly's collection and a tea with delicious pastries afterwards. This event continues to this day with many different artists, musicians and dancers entertaining guests at these annual Spring teas.

In 1952, The Polish Arts Club started to assist university students with scholarships. Thousands of dollars have been given out to deserving recipients. Our scholarship winners have pursued many diversified fields of study.

Founding member Helen Orze collected and recorded Polish folktales from immigrants in an attempt to save these treasures from extinction. In 1965, A World Remembered was published, containing these tales. Orze had 22 of her collected stories included in this publication. In 1990, The Polish Arts Club sponsored the second printing of the publication for sale to the public, as well as distribution to the local libraries and schools.

A part of its continued outreach to the Mahoning Valley community, The Polish Arts Club exhibits Polish artifacts annually at the International Pavilion of Nations at The Canfield Fair. It also hosts a booth at The Festival of Nations during the Y.S.U. Festival of the Arts. The Club also has exhibited Slavic Books at The Maag Library and The Arms Museum of The Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

Its membership in the American Council for Polish Culture allows members to interact with Polonia on a nationwide scale through publications and conventions. The Club's participation in the PolishYoungstown umbrella organization has lead to a renewed vigor in its activities. It has recently hosted several authors and noted speakers at its monthly meetings, launched a website and has opened its annual Christmas Wigilia Dinner to the community. Social activities continue to be part of member schedules. These include a fall picnic and a Memorial Mass every March to remember our deceased members.

Membership to The Polish Arts Club is open to anyone who would like to learn more about the culture and history of Poland.

The Polish Arts Club of Youngstown is part of American Council for Polish Culture, Inc., a national non-profit, charitable, cultural and educational organization that serves as a network and body of national leadership among affiliated Polish-American cultural organizations throughout the United States. Founded in 1948, the Council currently represents the interests of some 25 affiliated organizations located across the United States from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA. The Youngstown club is one of the oldest having been established in 1935.
The mission of the Polish Arts Club is to disseminate information relative to Polish culture, namely the study of literature, drama, and fine arts of Poland; the exchange of ideas on Polish civic, economic, social and cultural progress and sharing of this information with the general public.

Sandra Cika, President
Stanley Gerchak, Vice-President
Thomas Welch, Secretary
Alice Morrow, Treasurer