NANTICOKE — Invited guests, including the Polish ambassador to the United States, filled Luzerne County Community College’s Schulman Gallery on Friday evening for the preview opening of an art exhibit titled “Crayons and Care II.”
The exhibit features some 150 artworks created by children who stayed at Litewska Hospital in Warsaw, Poland.
Children there typically have serious health problems and often stay a year for treatments. So the institution has a fully functioning school and a distinguished art department.
“The children are always happy when they are doing the paintings,” said Tom Pugh, the chairman of the exhibit.
Pugh, now retired from the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation, explained how his connection with the hospital began. While he was working at the institute, nurses from the Polish hospital came for a visit. They invited Pugh to visit their hospital in Warsaw.
Pugh did and was so impressed with the art department that he organized a fundraising effort to support it. All funds raised from the sale of exhibited art will benefit the hospital’s art department.
Ryszard Schnepf, the Polish ambassador, attended the opening with his family, saying he felt it a duty and a pleasure to attend. “Looking at your faces, I feel I am in Warsaw or Krakow,” said Schnepf, noting the number of members from the area’s Polish community at the event.
He thanked everyone for their generosity saying, “You know better than any people in the world how to share with others in need.”
Schnepf also translated the remarks of school’s headmistress, Maria Gebarowska.
“Art is to forget about pain and about being far from home,” she said.
After the ceremony Schnepf’s 4-year-old daughter Antonia helped with the ribbon-cutting.
Guests touring the art exhibit found that most of the paintings featured bright primary colors. The art is happy and reflects the culture of Poland, with the popular subjects being animals, outdoor scenes, castles and snowmen.
Deborah Vilegi-Peters, dean of nursing and health sciences at LCCC, waited in line to purchase art for her two sons. “I’m very enthusiastic,” said Vilegi-Peters. “They’re supporting the health services in another country.”
Art purchased will remain in the exhibit and can be picked up at the end of the show.
In conjunction with the display, a children’s story hour will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. today. The story hour is open to the public. The gallery will remain open until 6 p.m. today.