THE GALLERY IN ACTION
The wooden pavilion some 75 metres square, with three large windows in the ceiling and in the east facing side wall, was built in 2005 in Buda Ruska as a space for concerts and for listening to music, as well as for the presentation of works of art. Alek designed it to fulfil his dream of possessing his own place to exhibit not only his own work and to be able to welcome guests from the art world and beyond. This dream came to pass and in August 2005 he invited guests from in and around Suwałki, Sejny and Krasnopol to the inauguration of the gallery.
‘The gate wide open proclaims to passers-by That it is hospitable and invites all to enter as guests’(transl.G.R.Noyes)
With these two lines of verse from Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz we welcomed all who came to Buda Ruska for our exhibitions and concerts. Music resounded among the sculptures and paintings. Music performed by budding artists, students of the State Music School I and II stage in Suwałki and by illustrious instrumentalists with whom we maintained warm ties, built up at various stages of our lives. We inaugurated our work in the field of the creative arts with a collective exhibition of works by artists permanently or temporarily, but systematically, resident in the Suwałki region. Our remaining exhibitions were individual exhibitions, with a background ‘decoration’ of sculpture and occasionally paintings. Numerous meetings of people from many walks of life: musicians, artists, physicists, and actors were exceptionally interesting. The discussions touched upon not only art topics but also existential and ideological world views ‘the creation of the world included’. The well represented music world and the fact the gallery had grand pianos meant there could be simultaneous music making (from such musicians as Ewa Pobłocka, Jan Broja etc).
2005 – inaugural collective exhibition of paintings by Marian and Elżbieta Murawscy, Danuta,Andrzej and Anna Strumiłło, Janina Freudenreich, graphics by Rafał Strumiłło and MarekFreudenreich, the photography of Ksawery Freudenreich and the works of the Baumiler family ie.showroom works, interior and culinary design.
2005 – The paintings of Janina Freudenreich
2006 – Textile exhibition. Hermina Ter Meulen-Desowski
2007 – Drawings. Judyta Nawrat-Bil
2007 – The paintings of Joanna Moś
2008 – Sculpture, medals and small forms. Judyta Nawrat-Bil
2009 – Drawings and graphics : ‘Traces of my memory’.Stanisław Wieczorek
2010 – Paintings (pastels). Grzegorz Moryciński
2014 – Presentation of the portrait of Ignacy Paderewski
2006 – School concert given by the youngest performers
2007 – ‘…towards the age’ (students)
2008 – From Chopin to Piazzoli. (students)
2009 – Veracini, Paderewski, Bach and Handel. (students)
2009 – Concert by Chamber Musicians (M.Głuch, J. and A. Roszkowscy)
2010 – Concert of Chamber Music ( J. Olejniczak, J. and A. Roszkowscy)
In a sense Alec’s dream of popularising all kinds of art among artists (but not only them) of all fieldscame true.
Neither my education nor my work connect me to the circles of art and culture in Suwałki. However, as an amateur, my interest in history, including the history of art and modern art, have brought me closer to them. To begin with there were the ever more frequent visits to the Regional Centre of Art and Culture (ROKiS) on Noniewicza for numerous exhibitions and openings. At one of these I met Mr and Mrs Alojzy and Kasylda Nawrat. I remember our first meeting at the Suwałki Art Salon. In a short time these encounters in institutions of culture led to contacts on a more intimate footing and mutual visits. I knew Alek was a well- known artist and that his work was to be found in Warsaw among other places. Which goes to explain why early on I felt slightly nervous. I think that what really brought us together was a shared passion for skiing. Alek came from Silesia and in his youth the Beskidy were his home from home. He always recalled the years spent in Silesia and Warsaw with great affection. Skiing was one of his many hobbies. Together with friends he would go on skiing trips to the Alps. It was Alek who came up with the idea of setting up a proper Ski centre in the Suwałki region. He passed on the concept to the then President of Suwałki, the late Józef Gajewski. He even bought some land on the slopes of Krzemieniucha. It was one of three locations muted for the centre along with Szelment and Rowelska Góra. We used to go skiing in Dąbrówka near Suwałki. There he was a peerless role model for me. At that time, I already knew Professor Andrzej Strumillo quite well. Soon they both became my guides in the world of art. To derive full, unadulterated joy from life people should have interests outside of their professional lives. They should also want to and be able to pass on their interest and their knowledge to others. Alek was such a mentor. In my case all this bore fruit in my frequent trips to Italy, especially Venice, Florence and Rome. I developed an interest in ancient history, Roman, Gothic and Renaissance art. A passion for collecting awoke in me. He was delighted when together with Kasylda they were able to buy the property in Buda Ruska. Over the years it became their real home and alongside the Maćkowa Ruda of the Strumiłłos it became a renowned centre of culture not only in the Suwałki Region. I witnessed the birth of his gallery in Buda Ruska. With his wife they set up a studio, gallery and a place where Alek could keep his beloved horses. Alek was not only a well-known and recognised artist, sculptor and painter. He and his wife were, above all, animators of culture. At their gallery in Buda Ruska they organised meetings with well-known and less well-known musicians, both performers and composers. They welcomed artists, politicians and in particular were open to those who live in this beautiful corner of Poland. They also organised exhibitions of works by other artists. Alek collected old instruments which he often made available to or simply gifted to performers both young and old.
I was a fairly active participant in his ‘Suwałki Period’. I followed the creation of his new works, less frequent as the years went by. We met at concerts, recitals and at the ‘Aukso’ festival. We also had many friends and acquaintances in common.
Alek always wanted part of his rich legacy, including some of his works and collections to remain in the Suwałki region. I was able to buy from him his sculpture of Beethoven. It was supposedly meant for the Polish Embassy in Washington, but has stayed here. I remember when a few months before he died, Alek visited me and presented me with a pastel of a vase of flowers. He told me he had painted four similar pictures and had decided to give them to his closest friends who had settled in the Suwałki region and were permanently connected with the area. As a memento. He said this was his way of saying goodbye. One of us, namely Jurek Brzozowski, shortly after Alek’s death and with the help of Kasylda Nawrat, organised a retrospective exhibition of his work in the Regional Museum . It was then that, through Jurek, I presented the pastel I had received from Alek to the museum. I think Alek would have been pleased. He always wanted his work to be widely available. The bust of Beethoven was not exhibited at that time. In the summer of 2017 the Suwałki Centre of Culture exhibited a number of his sculptures, which in accordance with his last wishes should remain in Suwalki. There were busts executed in stone and metal casts of composers, both living and dead, among them that of the founder and organiser of the ‘Aukso’ Festival, Marek Moś, who has contributed so much to our region. Also on display was the bust of Ignacy Paderewski, important especially in the context of the 100th anniversary of Polish Independence. There was also my Beethoven. One of the photographs in this album shows these works in the Suwałki Centre of Culture. Alek is no longer with us. I hope the authorities of our town – Suwałki will make an effort to acquire and keep at least part of his considerable artistic legacy. In memory of not only Alek.
Krzysztof Michalski, Suwałki 06.10.2018