Michalczyk, Casimer

Michalczyk, Casimer (1914-2005)

Casimir Michalczyk was born in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts in 1914. He attended Classical High School and after, worked on a mural for the Springfield Museum of Natural History. He enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated in 1938. While attending he painted in Provincetown with John Frazier and apprenticed in stone carving in the American colonial style at the oldest such shop in the country, John Steven’s in Newport. Michalczyk attended the Yale School of Fine Arts and studied sculpting, receiving a BACHELOR OF FINE ARTS in 1940. He married another sculptor he had met at the school. In 1941 Michalczyk worked for the Federal Arts Project completing 15 watercolors. He and his wife traveled to Ames, Iowa where he headed the Iowa State University Sculpture Department but the onset of war ended that employment. Michalczyk returned to Connecticut and worked for the Pratt, Read and Co. in Ivorytown during the war. From making piano keys from ivory during peacetime, the company switched to making glider planes during the war. He worked as a technical illustrator bringing perspective to line workers who had trouble reading blueprints and other plans. Michalczyk later said that he “had to be able to draw every single part of the airplane” in perspective. In 1946 he began a 25 year job as an industrial sculptor at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford. He worked with design engineers to make “precise replicas of engine parts in plaster and plastic.” He made over 1,000 wind tunnel models while at the company, including some for Apollo I. In 1971 Michalczyk had a heart attack and later was laid off by Pratt and Whitney. He again began to work as an artist. A stone carver, he made his own tools and gave them away to art schools and friends. He made inscriptions in slate and medallions for public and private institutions throughout New England. In 1979, Michalczyk made a plastic replica of the statue, Justice, which as a wooden model was taken down after 149 years atop the Old Statehouse dome. Perhaps the project that garnered him the most publicity was his refurbishing of the Genius of Connecticut in 1972-1973. The model now stands on the first floor of the State Capitol. In 2002 he received the Governor’s Arts Award. In 2005 Michalczyk died in Hartford at the age of 90.

 

Sources: WPA Artist’s Work Card; Hartford Courant: “24-Hour Alert Ordered for Fire Departments, September 11, 1954; “Most of Court Cases Involve Auto Violations,” September 14, 1954; “Symphony Fund Workers To Hear Rena Greenwald,” January 1, 1956; “County Art Association Is Holding 13th Fall Exhibition,” October 20, 1959; Photo Standalone 32, July 2, 1961; “Camps King, Together Open for 70 Children,” July 8, 1968; “Junior Women Have Dime Day to Help Restore Capitol Statue,” November 12, 1972; “Rearming,” Photo Standalone 6, January 27, 1973; “Loose Model Getting Backbone,” February 12, 1973; “Sculptor Making Memorial to First Coast Guardsman,” March 2, 1975; “Bicentennial Medallion Shown,” Photo Standalone 20, March 24, 1976; “Playing Fields of U of H Will Have Arabic Signs,” September 20, 1977; “Sperm Whale Plague Dedicated at Museum,” October 28, 1978; “The Anonymous Sculptor,” June 1, 1980; “His Sure Hands Carve Out a Career in an Almost-Forgotten Art Form,” April 1, 1984; “Some Balance for Palestinian Troupe’s Production,” May 30, 2002; Obituary for Katharine Michalczyk,” October 22, 2003; Obituary for Casimer Michalczyk, April 23, 2005; “Those Who Made a Difference,” New York Times, January 1, 2006. The records for the Commission on Preservation and Restoration of Connecticut State Capitol, 1972-1973 are in the State Archives of the Connecticut State Library. It was under this commission that Michalczyk refurbished the model for the statue Genius of Connecticut. For the finding aid, go towww.cslib.org/archives/Finding_Aids/RG084.html.

Works of Art Listed in CT Archives’ database from Casimer Michalczyk:

Gray Day: watercolor
Boat on Beach: watercolor
West Cemetery: watercolor
Beach Houses: watercolor
Madison Country Club: watercolor
Madison Beach Boat Rock Hotel: watercolor
West Cemetery Green Barn #1: watercolor
Madison Beach Hotel- Rear: watercolor
West Cemetery- Green Barn: watercolor
Window W. Doll Plant Bottle: watercolor
Col. J. S. Wilcox House: watercolor
Bertha Coe House: watercolor
Still Life- Fruit- Lion- Etc.: watercolor
The Forest: watercolor
Trees- Bldg.- Crest of Hill: watercolor
Michalczyk, Casimer