Translated and condensed by Aleksandra Slabisz
A Greenpoint gallery known as one of the few places to regularly exhibit art by Polish and Polish-American artists hosted its final exhibit in August after six years in the neighborhood.
Gallery A.R, established in 2013 at 71 India St. by Polish-American artist Janusz Skowron, has displayed the work of more than 250 artists since its opening. The last exhibit on Aug. 22, entitled “Bestiarium and Arboretum,” marked the gallery’s 55th show and featured Skowron’s own drawings and sketches.
Skowron — who’d previously organized shows for Polish artists in a neighborhood Starbucks — is also a director at Greenpoint’s Amber Senior Club, a senior center in the same building as Gallery A.R., with the exhibition space located in an L-shaped hallway adjacent to the center.
“The gallery came into being thanks to Amber Senior Club,” he said. “I came up with an idea of a gallery once I saw this spacious, white corridor leading to the senior club.”
The first art show at the space in 2013 was entitled “Little Beasts” and featured Skowron’s own drawings of monsters, and was followed soon after by a second exhibit called “Arboretum,” which showcased his drawings of trees and imaginary plants. The closing exhibition, entitled “Bestiarium and Arboretum,” referred to those two inaugural shows, and contained Skowron’s latest pencil and coal drawings, as well as sketches of imaginary monsters and non-existing animals, snakes, fish and plants.
Fans of Gallery A.R are disappointed with Skowron’s decision to discontinue the exhibitions, saying it was the only space dedicated to continuously displaying work by Polish and Polish-American artists. Skowron, who financed the gallery from his own funds, explained that he is no longer able to continue doing so without financial support from other sources. He also cited his faltering health, especially problems with his arms, that makes it hard for him to do the physical work involved in hanging up pieces for exhibits.
“I had multiple submissions from artists interested in showing their work in our gallery, enough for the next two or three years. I got concerned I wouldn’t be able to physically manage the challenge,” he said. “Besides, as an artist myself, I want to set aside time for painting, reading, sightseeing and finishing the third book my wife and I are working on.”
But Skowron said he’s not withdrawing entirely from his curatorial activity. This month, he’s putting together an exhibit of sketches by artist Edmund Korzeniowski at the Kurier Plus Gallery, and will be overseeing an art show connected with a drawing competition commemorating [Polish painter] Michał Andriolli, which launches on Dec. 3 at the Kosciuszko Foundation in Manhattan.
“I am also planning a couple of other art shows, but can’t reveal the details yet,” he said.
“Janusz and his wife have created a very unique place here, very Polish and filled with positive emotions, which strengthened the sense of community,” Ewa Jerzykowska, who works at the Consulate Generał of the Republic of Poland and attended the “Bestiarium and Arboretum” opening. “It is a pity that Janusz Skowron is discontinuing the art shows here. However, maybe the end of Gallery A.R will turn out to be the beginning of something else.”
Since its launch in 2013, Gallery A.R has hosted 55 exhibitions – both individual and group shows – which featured art by more than 250 artists, including Katarzyna Bargiełowska, Maria Fuks, Jagoda Przybylak, Joanna Sarapata, Magdalena Zawadzka, Amadeusz Popek, Szczepan Sadurski as well as Janusz Skowron’s son Arthur Skowron. The opening of its last exhibit was accompanied by the showing of a documentary about Tadeusza Różewicza, a famous Polish poet, by Krzysztof Korwin Piotrowski.