Polish Cultural Salon for All Opens in New York City

New York, N.Y.  I first met cultural icon Barbara Plewińska — “Basia” to her many friends in New York and around the world — after she passed recently from cancer.  I met her through the dozens of people I have encountered this summer who speak of her with such reverence and enthusiasm it seems as if she never left.  When presented with the chance to support a salon in her memory, I felt I had been given a gift.

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N.Y.C. Cultural Dame Barbara “Basia” Plewińska’s passing has inspired the birth of a
foundation and salon in NYC’s Midtown in her memory. Image: Plewińska Foundation.

I was first introduced by Tad Sudol, my friend and advisor, Polish-American architect and president of the Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association (RIVAA).  Tad told me:

Basia passed away recently but her legacy is alive and resides in our hearts.  We can feel her spirit when we enter her home – the Queen’s Chamber and salon.   It is with great pleasure that we announce the formation of a Polish-American cultural organization to be known as the Barbara Plewińska Foundation.

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A view from the multi-layered living room into the Continental kitchen.
Photo: Plewińska Foundation.

This foundation, with its mission and by-laws, will embrace Polish-American culture and will serve as a salon where music, literature, visual art reign coupled with a fascination of science and technology.  More than just a Polish gathering spot, the salon will reach out to New Yorkers of all ethnicities.  Americans from South American, China, Africa, and India attended the founding meeting.

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Details of the Times Square salon – art, science and technology.
Photo: Stewardship Report/Joey Vaughan.

Going forward, gathering in Barbara’s apartment, thought leaders of American culture will refine the taste and increase the knowledge of Polish-American and international culture through conversation, food and drink.  Next week a private dinner will be held for diplomats and other intellectuals serving both South East Asian and Eastern European cuisine.

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The ambiance of the salon is unmistakably European, yet welcoming to all.
Photo: Stewardship Report/Joey Vaughan.

I have come to know Basia’s brother Leszek well in the last few weeks.  He shared with me his vision:

Imagine evenings spent in a salon with music, poetry, and discussions about recent medical breakthroughs.  Imagine a salon dedicated to the unique combination of art, science and technology as a mind-opener and imagination-booster to the next generation of global citizens straddling Europe and America.

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The author with Basia’s brother Leszek Plewiński, journalist Gregory Worwa, and architect
Tad Sudol discussing the formation of the foundation. Photo: Plewińska Foundation.

The Foundation is a continuation of Basia’s life and will echo the salon of King Stanisław August Poniatowski (1732–1798).  Ideally located in Basia’s home, it existed as a salon before the Foundation was created.  Situated in the center of Manhattan, just off Times Square and a short distance from Bryant Square Park, its location makes this cultural salon of Polish-American heritage even more attractive.

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The Plewińska Foundation’s salon is full of antiquarian and European books.
Photo: Stewardship Report/Joey Vaughan.

I asked Basia’s niece Ela Plewińska, who has relocated from Minneapolis to NYC to coordinate the salon, what was needed now to further this new foundation.  She told me:

Bright, visionary and open-minded people – thought leaders and global citizens – are needed to embrace and steer the Foundation and fill its salon and fill its salon once again with life.

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The Foundation’s interim director Ela Plewińska with Basia’s brother, her father Leszek.
Photo: Stewardship Report/Joey Vaughan.

Ela has inherited the task of caring for the salon and is the Foundation’s interim director.  She explained her vision:

Every conversation with Basia, whether about music, literature, the latest scientific breakthrough or a technological advancement, was a fascinating adventure. To all of her family and friends visiting Basia was like reaching an oasis. She created a remarkable place, where everyone could share their passion for arts and science being surrounded by just that.

Being able to keep this magical world alive and share it with others is a gift and a privilege, and offers an amazing opportunity to everyone to express their passion for arts, but also to grow, learn, and perhaps be inspired by others who share my aunt’s extraordinary and unique sensitivity.

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Barbara “Basia” Plewińska. Photo: Plewińska Foundation.

Barbara Plewińska was a thought leader and global citizen extraordinaire.  Basia’s salon will continue through the new Plewińska Foundation.  Given the J. Luce Foundation’s commitment to young global leadership in fields uplifting of humanity including the arts, it is with great pleasure that our team can assist Basia’s family and friends to expand her creative and philanthropic vision.

Originally published in The Huffington Post, August 21, 2013.


Barbara Plewińska Foundation for the Arts

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