Polish Arts Club draws on culture for students

The event, held annually since 1935, is to showcase the work of local Polish and Polish-American artists.

YOUNGS-TOWN — Barbara Lyras Dubos never dreamed that watching clouds during her childhood might one day inspire her to create artwork good enough to be showcased in her own show.

But on Sunday, Dubos was the featured artist at the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown’s 73rd annual scholarship art, music and tea reception.

The event was at the Butler Institute of American Art North facility, formerly the First Christian Church, on Wick Avenue.

“Our club wants to preserve Polish culture,” said Mary Ann Mlynarski of Youngstown, PAC president, explaining why the group hands out scholarships each year. “Students can dream what they want to dream, attend school, and achieve what they want to achieve.”

The club awarded 10 scholarships of $300 each to area college students during Sunday’s event.

Lisa Lotze, scholarship committee chairwoman, said education was strongly important to Polish immigrants who came to this country generations ago.

“They sacrificed everything to be able to provide education for their children,” Lotze said. “It was very important.”

Dubos said education is part of the link between herself and the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown because her art instructor at the Boardman YMCA, Suzanne Gray, is a past PAC scholarship recipient.

“I’m here because of education,” Dubos said. “I’m here because this art club funded someone who taught me about art, so this really is one of those ‘giving back’ things.”

Dubos also has Polish heritage because her great-grandmother married a Polish soldier.

Dubos, an English instructor at Youngstown State University, said she has had a lifelong interest in art. Her earliest inspiration was as a child, when she would watch clouds floating overhead and marvel at how they would change shapes in a matter of minutes.

She has maintained that fascination with nature and its settings, and that is largely what inspires her work. She has done watercolor and sketching for years, but about two years ago decided to take up acrylic painting.

“I guess I really just got to a place where I became comfortable with imperfection,” said Dubos, a native of Campbell who now lives in Boardman.

“As an artist, it is very frightening to have your artwork out on display because your artwork reflects your personality. My art really comes from within.”

Her work also is on display in the Butler’s main gallery.

Sunday’s scholarship winners are from Mahoning and Trumbull counties and attend colleges all over the country.

One of them was Clayton Ruminski of Hubbard, a sophomore majoring in history at YSU.

Ruminski, 19, said he hopes to use his education to work in the area of historic preservation, specifically saving old buildings.

“I’m very interested in old architecture,” he said. “I’d like to see if I can help save some buildings instead of seeing them knocked down.”

The scholarship tea also included performances by soloist Ray Liddle of Cleveland, accompanied by Jacek Sobieski, and by the Trinity Brass Quintet of Youngstown, whose members are Frederick Moose, Deborah McDowell, Eric Jernigan, Greg Moose and David Gardner.

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