Artist Name

birth7/2/1921 in Chojnice, PolandPicture of Kawecki
death8/9/2000 in Garden Grove, CA
parentsAdam and Elizabeth (Link) Kawecki
educationState College Graphic Arts Poznan (1939)
Pittsburgh Art Institute (1952-1054)
Otis Art Institute (1964)
California Institute of Arts (1966-1967)
Art Center College Design (1968)
University of California Irvine (1968-1971)

Leon Stanley Kawecki was born in Poland in 1921. Little is known about his early life, but we do know that it was not easy. He served in the Polish army from 1939 to 1947, spent quite some time in a Russian prisoner of war camp and eventually arrived in the U.S. in 1951 or 1952. He became a naturalized citizen in 1956.

He worked as a designer at Meade Packaging in Buena Park for 35 years. Married and widowed, he was a family man all his life. His four children, Raymond, Steven James, Daniel Noel, and Barbara Rachelle remember him as a gentle man who instilled in them the importance of bonds between family members.

He pursued painting and medallic art in his spare time until he retired from Meade Packaging in 1989 and had more time to devote to his passion. In 1998, during a trip to Poland, he was honored as his city's "famous son."

Leon Kawecki died in 2000. He was buried and will be remembered the way he requested: holding a palette in one hand and a paint brush in the other.

Sourced from the sources listed in the Resources section. I would love to learn more about this gifted artist and hope that the children or grandchildren of Leon Kawecki will reach out to me with additional material.

You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

Polish Americans Salute the American Revolution Bicentennial Medal1979

This medal's obverse bears busts of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, George Washington, and Casimir Pulaski; above, 13 stars. Around, KOSCIUSZKO · WASHINGTON · PULASKI · / FREEDOM FOUNDERS; signed at left, LS KAWECKI under Washington's lapel, ELISCU

The reverse bears Statue of Liberty and Polish King with cross between flags of U.S. and Poland. Around, POLISH AMERICANS SALUTE 1776 · 1976 / AMERICAN REVOLUTION BICENTENNIAL

While George Washington's life probably does not need to be elaborated any further here, Tadeusz Kosciuszko might not be known to most Americans. He was a Polish-Lithuanian military leader who fought both in the American Revolutionary War and the Polish War for Independence. Captured and eventually pardoned by Tsar Paul I, he was allowed to emigrate to the U.S.

Casimir Pulaski's career is described in more detail in the narrative for a 1979 medal celebrating the 200th anniversary of his death in battle.

This medal was one of several hundred medals issued in celebration of the American Bicentennial. Based on the signatures on the medal, it seems to have been a cooperation between Kawecki and Eliscu but I do not know what form the cooperation took.

The circular medal measures 70mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut.

Polish American Numism. Assoc. Gen. C. Pulaski Medal1979

This medal's obverse bears bust of Pulaski in cavalry uniform, facing left. Around, POLISH AMERICAN NUMISM. ASSOC. - 1779 GEN C PULASKI 1979

The reverse bears three-faced head over Polish coat of arms. Around, POLONUS PHILATELIC SOCIETY U.S.A. - IN POLISH PHILATELY SINCE 1939; signed to left of Polish eagle, LS KAWECKI

Casimir Pulaski is one of the great Polish-American heros of the American Revolutionary War. He was military leader of a Polish revold against Russian domination and, after the uprising's failure, was forced into American exile. He distinguished himself throughout the revolution, most notably when he saved the life of George Washington. Pulaski became a general in the Continental Army, created the Pulaski Cavalry Legion and reformed the American cavalry as a whole. At the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces, he was gravely wounded, and died shortly thereafter.

Issued by the Polish American Numismatic Association, this medal celebrates the 200th anniversary of Pulaski's death. It is beautifully executed by the undeservedly less well-known Kawecki. Maybe he did not become as famous as some contemporaries because he almost exclusively focused on Polish-American subject matter.

The circular medal measures 70mm in diameter and was struck in silver by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut.

Helena Modjeska Medal1990

This medal's obverse bears portrait of Modjeska wearing wide-brimmed hat; Krakow coat of arms in laurel wreath at bottom. Around, HELENA MODJESKA THE - FIRST LADY OF THE THEATER; signed over shoulder at right, LS KAWECKI

The reverse bears view of house before mountains, framed by trees. Above, PIONEER ACTRESS OF TWO CONTINENTS / BORN IN KRAKOW, / POLAND, OCT. 12 1840 - DIED AT BALBOA, CAL · / IFORNIA, APR. 8, 1909; below, ARDEN · MODJESKA'S HOME IN SANTIAGO CANYON

The edge is marked P.A.H.A - © 1990 MEDALLIC ART CO. - DANBURY, CT. - BRONZE

Helena Modjeska was born in Krakow, Poland on October 12, 1840. While her mother's identity is clear, her father's identity is still debated. Modjeska is actually the anglicized version of her first stage name, Modrzejewska, which is the female version of Modrzejewski, the name of the man she considered to be her first husband. As it turned out, their marriage was invalid as he had not legally divorced his first wife when they wed.

She quickly became famous and was the undisputed diva of Polish theater in the late 1860's and 1870's. In 1876, for reasons both personal and political, she and her husband decided to emigrate to the U.S. She quickly reestablished her career, first performing in the California Theatre in San Francisco in 1877. After three years spent abroad, mainly in London, she returned to the stage in America in 1882.

She was banned from Poland by the Tsar after she spoke at the Chicago World's Fair about the situation of Polish women in the Russian and Prussian-occupied parts of Poland. She finally retired from acting in 1905 and died four years later from Bright's disease. She is buried in her home city of Krakow, Poland.

The circular medal measures 70mm in diameter. It was issued by the Polish American Heritage Association and struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut.

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