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July 22, 2004 ...


Mother Church of Polonia to restore historic 1893 Johnson organ

The historic East Side, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church, will begin the total restoration and rebuilding of the 1893 Johnson organ which for the past 110 years has served the parish and Polonia community for its glorious celebrations of the liturgy.
This includes various visits of dignitaries, presidents of the United States and Poland, and even Cardinal Wojtyla. There have also been the somber moments; the funerals of pastors John and Alexander Pitass, Msgr. Peter J. Adamski, and Msgr. John R. Gabalski.
To ensure the organ will continue to serve in the future celebrations at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish and Polonia, the Heritage Pipe Organ Company has been contracted to perform the undertaking of this extensive project.
Based upon discussions with Bishop Edward M. Grosz, pastor of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish, Thomas W. Borowski, parish organist, service technician Bill Kurzdorfer and suggestions from other interested parties, Heritage Pipe Organ proposed tonal additions of 13 ranks that will enhance the organ and its abilities.
The main restoration will be centered on the replacement of the main chests and console. It has been suggested that the Johnson & Son pipe work should be restored to slider chests. They would be very similar to what was used in 1893, except that the pallets will be actuated by electric pull down magnets rather than trackers. The original Johnson pipe work will be retained in the rebuilding of the organ. The new pipe work will be manufactured in Europe.
The restoration process will include complete cleaning and repairing of the Johnson & Son pipe work (including facade), painting of the interior zinc bass pipes to stop the oxidation process, and replacing of all existing slide tuners with stainless steel.
The console itself will be replaced with a new three manual English style, draw knob console which will include all the new innovations in organ consoles (i.e. MIDI). The oak organ case will be refinished and the facade pipes gilt. The organ once completed will be showcased with lighting.
The project is to begin in July 2004 with the ordering of the pipe work and manufacturing of the chests. The complete removal of the organ will take place tentatively in the early Spring of 2005, with the complete return of the instrument in the Fall of 2005.
With great expectations. Bishop Edward M. Grosz and the parishioners of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish will await the completion of this project. With the completion of this project, the parish will be available for future recitals, concerts, and possible choirs from other countries.
The organ which served the parish and Polonia will continue to give glory to God in the future. We at St. Stanislaus are hoping that with this restoration of the 1893 organ, we will not only be a spiritual center but also become a cultural center in the heart of Polonia.
The project would not be possible if it wasn?t for the continued support of the parishioners and friends of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish.


Ranis works on "The Portage" at ArtPark

Glenn Gramigna
WNY Polish-Americans have a rare opportunity to see an internationally renowned sculptor at work from now until July 26 as Wroclaw native and well known sculptor Marek Ranis crafts his latest work at ArtPark from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Ranis is currently working on a large sculpture with a maritime motif which he feels symbolizes the area's history as a busy port.
While he will begin his work in Artpark's Metal Studio, he can also be seen in the process of creating in an area adjacent to the picnic grounds near Parking Lot D. Ranis' extensive resume includes creative ventures in the U.S., Australia, and Germany, as well as in his native Poland where he graduated with a master of fine arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw.
"I am fascinated by the interplay between the natural landscape and man-made facilities," Ranis explains. "I am endeavoring to produce a work that will evoke the history of this region as one that has always had a strong relationship with boats on the Niagara River. I am very happy to be here and I hope people will enjoy watching me work and also seeing the finished product."
His Artpark project, titled "The Portage," involves a series of chainsaw aided wood carvings, which will eventually form a large, canoe shaped structure that will overlook the Niagara River. Its final piece will approach lengths of 40 feet wide and 5 feet tall and will allow visitors to walk through its center to the same site where boats and goods were loaded off of Niagara River vessels for decades.
Besides undertaking artistic projects such as this one, Ranis is also part of the design team that is working on the Charlotte, NC transit system. Ranis has lived in Charlotte with his wife, freelance painter Maja Godlewski, for the past seven years.
Raised in southwest Poland, Ranis first became interested in art at the age of seven while observing the activities of a friend's father who was an artist. From there he went on to an art high school before studying the subject at the Wroclaw Academy.
"In those days, during communist times, people looked to art as a kind of escape from the grim realities," he remembers.
Eventually, Ranis became an assistant professor at Wroclaw University before he and his wife decided to emigrate to the USA.
"We felt like we needed a new challenge," he recalls. "So we came here and I got a teaching job at Winthrop University and then we started getting freelance jobs. We really enjoy being here and we'll probably stay. And, actually we get back to Poland about twice a year. So really we are not so far removed from the land of our birth."

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