Folk Arts of Poland


118 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: 505-984-9882
Fax: 505-984-8974


Open Daily 10-6

Greg Quevillon, Owner
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Kacalak: St. Francis

Image: © Tadeusz Kacalak
"Noah's Ark" Wood

"The finest collection in America," of Poland Folk Art wood sculptures, reverse paintings on glass, paper cut-outs, Boleslawiec ceramics, amber jewelry, embroidery and textiles.

During a trip to Poland in the spring of 1993, while visiting Warsaw museums, Gregory Quevillon discovered quality Polish folk art wood sculptures and reverse paintings on glass. The planned two week trip turned into a three month, eleven thousand mile odyssey of locating and purchasing from artists scattered throughout the Polish countryside. This effort produced the largest private American collection of folk art created by the most honored contemporary folk artists of Poland.

Now in its tenth year of business, the Folk Arts of Poland in Santa Fe, NM is the only American gallery of its kind devoted entirely to the promotion of the finest works by Poland's most famous folk artists. Throughout the past ten years, Mr. Quevillon has spent over 26 months in Poland visiting museums and scouring the countryside searching out the best Polish folk art. Aside from wood sculptures and reverse paintings on glass, the gallery now offers a selection of paintings on wood, embroidered clothing, silver/amber jewelry, paper cutouts, flat weave textiles from the Tatra Mountains, double weave textiles from the Northeast and world famous ceramics from the cooperative in Boleslawiec.

Polish wood sculptures came of note during the middle of the 19th C. For over one hundred years these works have been carved by herders, farmers, religious devotees and other unschooled artists. Traditionally, the works were placed inside homes or within the thousands of outdoor religious shrines dotting the villages and fields. Since World War II, these wood sculptures have been avidly purchased by Polish museums to replace the art that was destroyed or appropriated during various occupations. For this and other economic reasons, Poland was one of the few communist bloc countries that encouraged and supported the continuation of folk traditions and art during the post-WW II occupational period.

During the 1950s, folk art foundations were established and financially supported by the government. After acceptance into one of the folk art associations, the artists, folklorists, poets, and writers received a monthly wage and social benefits. Museums were allotted vast sums of money to purchase from these members. After the fall of socialism in the 1990s, most of the benefits and museum purchases were drastically reduced, forcing two thousand registered association members to support themselves as private entrepreneurs. Some members have successfully made the transition to the market economy but many, however, have not.

Wood Sculpture

The wood sculptures have had uninterrupted generational production since the mid-19th C. The most commonly used wood is linden. Most sculptures are decorated with water- or oil-based paints; some are merely stained. The subjects vary from Old and New Testament themes to country life scenes, legendary figures and historic or contemporary events. The carvers have participated in countless exhibitions in Polish, German, Swedish, Finnish, Swiss, European and former USSR museums. Most of the artists represented have received first place awards in Polish competitions. Many have been honored by Poland's Ministry of Culture and Art, and nine have been granted the highest distinction possible for a Polish artist, the Oscar Kolberg Award.

Wojtczak: Mountain Madonna

Image: © Andrzej Wojtczak
"Our Lady of Gromniczna"
Mountain Madonna that is invoked against lightning, storms and wolves, Wood, 22" x 11"

Peksowa: Holy Family

Image: © Ewelina Peksowa
"Holy Family"
Reverse painting on glass, 18" x 15"

Reverse Painting on Glass

Reverse paintings on glass are produced in the southern mountainous regions of Poland. Although the birth of this art form dates from the mid-19th C., there was a period when production practically ceased at the beginning of this century. Inadvertently, a Catholic priest, who encouraged his parishioners to paint depictions of saints for therapeutic activity, launched an active revival of glass painting after WW II. There are very complex techniques involved in producing these paintings including the mixtures of the paints which are family held secrets. Many of the artists teach family members assuring the future of this tradition. As with the wood sculptors, all of these artists represented in the collection have received awards in Poland and abroad. Most have been honored by Poland's Ministry of culture and Art, and two have received the Oscar Kolberg Award.

Paper Cut-Outs

Paper cut-out production, called Wycinanka, in Polish, flourished primarily in two districts, Lowicz and Kurpie. During the late 19th C., home interiors in these districts were decorated twice annually with beautiful paper cut-outs. The district of Lowicz became renowned for their multiple layered and colorful examples while the Kurpia district used one color of paper. During the 1960s, the Lowicz district was known to have over one hundred paper cut-out artists of which some forty excelled in this art form. In 1995, after three years of privatization, Szutka Lowicka, the cooperative responsible for marketing these works for over 50 years, filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors. Mr. Quevillon was fortunate to be able to purchase the cooperative's private collection. The collection, which dates back to the early 1960s, contains the works of the best artists during this period, most of whom are deceased. Paper cut-outs is a dying art form within the Polish folk art tradition because the daughters of the famous artists were not interested in continuing or learning this art. Consequently, there are possibly less than a half-dozen makers known to Quevillon, one of which was part of the original group of forty great makers.

Lowicz: Chicken Feeding

Image: © Lowicz 1981
"Chicken Feeding"
Paper cut-out, 14" x 33"

Boleslawiec Ceramics

Image: © Boleslawiec Ceramics

Boleslawiec Artistic Ceramic

Boleslawiec Artistic Ceramic has been produced in Boleslawiec since the middle of the 17th C. It is considered one of the finest examples of European pottery with numerous European awards including the Gold Medal at the International Poznan Fair in 1995. Village craftsmen and peasants of Lower Silesia were initially inspired by the peacock's feathers and began decorating the pottery with what is now referred to as the famous, "eye of the peacock's tail."

The ceramic is hand-formed, painted, or hand-stamped. Currently, there is a separate line that is signed and created by one artist. This line is called unikat and is more expensive than those of the production line. All Boleslawiec cooperative ceramic is stamped on the bottom with a seal of a castle and the letter "B" above. In 1996, the cooperative designed a new stamp, similar to the older one, but enclosed in a teapot.

The factory, which is now a cooperative, is owned by 150 of the artists, manufactures hand-stamped coffee mugs, bowls, dishes, platters and many other beautiful pieces, some of which reside in European museum collections. The pottery is fired at the high temperature of F 2200 which make them very durable and impermeable. They are dishwasher, microwave, oven-proof and freezer-proof. They are also cadmium and lead free. Owing to their high quality and beauty, they are exported to many countries in Europe including England, Germany, Denmark, Holland and recently, to the United States.

Artists Represented


Amber Jewelry
Ceramika Artystyczna
Tadeusz Kacalak
Andrej Konopacki
Polish Pottery
Dorota Sledz
Roman Sledz


Visit the Calendar of Events Search Page for complete exhibit and performance information.

LAST MODIFIED: June 11, 2012

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