“I’ve been teaching art at this school for a year,” says Joseph Mika. – The exhibition and its opening were held thanks to the school administration and the director of the Municipal Cultural Center in Pilnik. I hope that soon we will visit various cultural centers in Varmia and Mazuri with this exhibition.
In fact, it is not known how many such exhibitions Joseph Mika organized during all these years. Everyone in Lidzbark poviat knows him from this side.
Under his auspices, the students who took their first artistic steps were forever “stamped” with art, and some decided that this would be their career path. Such a person is, among others, the famous sculptor Grzegorz Gviaz, a graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Arts. His statues can be seen, among others, at the Museu Europeu d’Art. Modern in Barcelona.
– Grzegorz is a talented young man. However, I was not the one who taught him sculpture. In my class, he was drawing. I remember the time he brought me to evaluate his works, – recalls Joseph Mika with a smile.
However, it should be noted that the passion for art does not come from nowhere, this spark is ignited by someone. And that’s exactly what Mr. Joseph did.
He started painting. Satisfied with this, he decided to encourage children from his community to engage in this art. There were conditions for this because he worked in the community house of culture. However, classes in the center’s studio were not enough for Mr. Joseph. He decided to organize art workshops for children and teenagers.
They were so interested that adults began to participate in them. Images of the work of farmers, historical churches, and roadside shrines abound in Catholic Varmia.
The plein air at Zacisze Leśny near Stryjkov, Babiak, Klebow, Runów and Lidzbark Warmiński was decorated with exhibitions. The vernissages opened with artistic accents, such as Olsztyn, MoCarta Group, Cabaret Moralny Niepokoju or Chervoni Tulipa from Arthur Andrus.
It has always been a great event for children and their parents. To organize the plein air, Mr. Joseph went to the sponsors. He donated his paintings and his students’ drawings to them, but not only the sponsors.
He also donated a painting and a statue of a cat authored by famous actress Anna Dymna, who admires her work for the disabled.
– I drew a portrait of the actress and her favorite cats. Three mice play in front of cats. I wanted to emphasize that these cats are very gentle, and there is a cat in the statue – Haszysz – explains Mr. Joseph. – I am still in touch with Ania – he adds.
When Joseph Micah became fascinated with woodcarving, he decided to share it with others. As usual, he organized outdoor sculpture events. The children were engaged in woodworking in several villages in the Lidzbark Warmiński commune.
Joseph Micah infected his friends with sculpture, and for many years he visited a country house called Mikovka. It is difficult to see it in summer, because tall, wide trees hide it.
And Mr. Joseph puts his sign at the intersection because he often visits – the green arrow. It is easy to find a handmade wooden board.
In the courtyard of the residence there are not only wooden logs, but also statues, including an angel, a chimney sweeper and St. Francis.
– After the summer open air in Kierz. We engraved them with Jarek and Lech Kwiatkowski, who came to me from Radom – explains Joseph Mika.
There is also a goose in the yard with a row of birds at his feet. Frozen in motion, they extend their long necks so that they almost touch each other.
The chimney sweeper is standing by the beautifully painted fireplace, under the trees, with St. Francis embracing the dove in his bosom. Almost an angel at the front door of the house, you can read the inscription above: “Mikówka”. The winged, two-meter guard should not be harmed.
– These are not all statues. Four of these two meters are in Runovo and one in Rogoz near the school. Marshal Joseph Piłsudski. His bust can also be seen in the same city, but next to the Memorial Chamber of Marshal Joseph Piłsudski. There’s a statue of Pope John Paul II in Kraszevo, and there’s a statue of General Tadeusz Ploski in Klebov, says Joseph.
The unveiling of this statue was an event of local significance. Tadeusz Poski, a field bishop of the Polish army, came from Medina near Lidzbark. He died in the Smolensk tragedy. Warmia was very popular with the residents.
Kłębow Primary School, where he studied as a boy, was named after him, and a statue of Mr. Joseph was erected near his building. Among the guests at the opening ceremony of this work was the family of the bishop, who died tragically.
At that time, the school organized an exhibition of unique memories of the patron. Among other things, you can see his liturgical attire, the bishop’s utensils, and even the school diary, where you can see the prices of Bishop Tadeusz Płoski.
Working at Mr. Joseph’s workshop, workshops, and numerous open-air paintings and sculptures at the Municipal Cultural Center in Pilnik is not the only time Mr. Joseph has taken his time over the years. He also had his own program on Radio Olsztyn. The program “What is a picture?” was called.
Moreover, from time to time he would perform some action. Almost 10 years ago, it was the Christmas campaign, during which he and his friend Yaroslav Kviatkovsky roamed the countryside in the snow, handing out candy to the children.
At the request of their parents, they also distributed gifts. Mikołaj visited Jarek and his assistant: Kochanowka, Blanki, Świetnik, Suryty and, of course, Kierz, where Joseph Mika lived.
– The children recited poems and sang songs. They were so nervous that they could be taken as an example of politeness. However, we had to give the sticks to a few adults – Mr. Joseph laughs.
He does not always have the time and energy to take action, the pandemic has certainly slowed him down, but most of all he struggles with a serious disease that does not heal every day. To stay in shape, Joseph trains for several hours a day. And this is his great victory over the spina bifida, which generally puts people to bed or uses a wheelchair.
– As a child, I felt contractures in the knee joints – Mr. Joseph, reconciled to his fate, can talk about it without much emotion. – I was walking on tiptoes, I stumbled, but I did not let go. I was an active child, playing football, running. I lived in a small Świętnik. My parents were farmers, worked hard, and did not understand how bad my illness was. In fact, I didn’t think about treatment until I graduated.
– I have performed a total of seven operations, including rehabilitation. The doctors did not give me much hope that I would be able to walk normally. I still couldn’t bend my legs completely, but the strongest contractures were gone. I stood on my feet. Before that, I was walking with bent legs.
Mr. Joseph did not accept being disabled. In the attic of a family home in Świetnik, he tied his leg to a rope and pulled his disobedient knees as they were bent and straightened.
“I used to take a piece of wood for my teeth, and it was easier for me to endure the pain then,” he recalls.
He read a lot about his illness and looked for ways to fight it.
– I wanted to meet with him to deal with him effectively. Somehow I subdued and accepted, but I can’t let go for a moment, so I exercise every day, so I started cycling. I traveled to Warsaw and Gdansk. 40 kilometers every day, and 120 kilometers on the third day. Once a month I took the Elbląg-Gdansk-Warsaw route.
In time, Joseph bought a bicycle that was adapted for the disabled, and he raced fast. Unfortunately, he had an accident. The truck took him off the road. His recovery was not easy, he limited his activities, but he still struggles. Accidents and pandemics have limited his activities, but he is already returning, as evidenced by the above-mentioned exhibition of nine-year-old Zosia, and probably more.
– The number of people who want to paint is growing, – says Mr. Joseph.