The house my grandpa, Leon Makielski, built


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My grandpa, Leon Makielski, was a well-known artist, creating over 3000 works of art throughout his lifetime. But perhaps the one work of art he produced that I will remember the most is the house he built from an old barn with his own hands.

  • I have four paintings by Makeilski, probably made for a child, of, I believe, The Fox and the Grapes, from Aesop's Fables. Do you know the paintings?
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  • i have a painting very old and it's signed a very long name starting with a 'B' perhaps its a 'bro' and the middle initial is A. and last name Makielski. I am from the mtns. of North Carolina and I always wondered if this painting had any relation to Leon. I cannot make out the first name but it's a very long name starting with 'B' and the middle initial and last name Makielski, I would love to know if his mother or father perhaps painted. Its a beautiful painting of a church in a meadow.
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The house my grandpa, Leon Makielski, built

  1. 1. The House My Grandpa, Leon Makielski built<br />Presentation by Ellen Lilley<br />
  2. 2. This is me and my grandfather, Leon Makielski. <br /> We called him DjiaDjia, which is Polish for Grandpa.<br />
  3. 3. My grandfather was an artist. He created over 3000 works of art over his lifetime, including drawings, etchings, and paintings.<br />
  4. 4. However, the work of art that he created that will always be the most memorable to me is the house that he built with his own hands.<br />
  5. 5. My grandfather was born on May 17, 1885 in the small mining town of Morris Run, Pennsylvania. <br />He was the third child of twelve born to Alexander and Elizabeth Makielski, who immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1881. <br />
  6. 6. Leon was a painter whose talent was recognized at an early age.<br />He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and spent four years studying at the Academie Julian and the Grande Chaumiere in Paris.<br />
  7. 7. While in Europe, he spent his spare time painting the city parks as well as the local French countryside. He also traveled through the museums of Italy, England, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Holland and Austria, painting the towns, cities and landscapes along the way.<br />
  8. 8. His paintings were accepted into Le Salon 1911 and Le Salon 1912, Europe&apos;s most prestigious exhibitions. <br />This portrait of Penelope Petersen was shown at Le Salon 1911, demonstrating his considerable skill and talent at portraiture. <br />
  9. 9. He had booked passage on the Titanic for his return trip from Europe to New York, but thankfully canceled his trip, choosing to remain in Europe to continue painting.<br />
  10. 10. In 1913, Leon returned from Paris, eventually settling in <br />Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he launched a successful career as a portrait and landscape painter. <br />He also taught fine arts at the University of Michigan, as well as the Meinsinger Art School in Detroit.<br />
  11. 11. In 1917, Leon purchased ¾ acre of land outside of <br />Ann Arbor, Michigan, for $1 down and $1 a month. The following year, he purchased a barn from a farm near the Huron River. <br />
  12. 12. It took three weeks to relocate the barn to his property. <br />My grandfather slept in it at night while it was being moved.<br />
  13. 13. The barn was placed on top of the hill of my grandfather’s property.<br />
  14. 14. He spent every spare moment working on his new home and studio, and his many friends helped.<br />
  15. 15. Here’s my grandfather on the doorstep of his house. The front door entered on to the second floor. <br />
  16. 16. My grandfather’s studio was on the second floor, with a ceiling that extended 2 stories high.<br />
  17. 17. The living room was also on the second floor, and the bedroom was on the third floor.<br />
  18. 18. A kitchen, a workshop and a garage occupied the basement level.<br />
  19. 19. Even though he was busy building his house, he still found time to court the woman he would soon marry, Anna Schmitt. <br />
  20. 20. After Anna graduated from the university with a degree in Liberal Arts …. <br />
  21. 21. … they were married on July 13, 1921.<br />
  22. 22. The union would last a lifetime, producing five children: Elizabeth, Marjorie, Edward, Donald, and Joan.<br />
  23. 23. As the family grew over the years, so too did the house grow to accommodate them.<br />
  24. 24. A sleeping porch was added to make room for the growing family. The five children slept on the sleeping porch through all seasons, including the harsh Michigan winters. My mom recalls that during snowstorms, the wind would sometimes blow snow in on top of their beds. <br />
  25. 25. The house had two ‘eyebrows’’, a bay window, and a lot of stonework.<br />
  26. 26. My grandfather did the stone work himself. Here he is, building the chimney.<br />
  27. 27. He also did the stonework around “picnic place”, an area off to the side of the house set aside for outdoor family gatherings.<br />
  28. 28. Here’s a picture of Picnic Place taken in 1959.<br />
  29. 29. Picnic Place was the scene for many family parties and reunions throughout the years.<br />
  30. 30. This is Grandpa’s house in the 1930s.<br />
  31. 31. Studio<br />In the early years, the studio was quite remote.<br />
  32. 32. There weren’t many neighbors around.<br />
  33. 33. However, eventually the urbanization of Ann Arbor<br /> enveloped the property. <br />
  34. 34. In 1942, Leon and his sons began work on another addition to the back of the house. <br />
  35. 35. Work continued until World War II made building materials too hard to get. <br />
  36. 36. After the war concluded, work resumed again in 1949.<br />
  37. 37. Finally, the sleeping porch would be enclosed!<br />
  38. 38. Leon’s kids helped out, especially the twin boys, Donald and Edward.<br />
  39. 39. Even daughter Marjorie got into the act, swinging some nails to help out.<br />
  40. 40. The addition added several bedrooms and a bathroom, bringing the total square footage to over 4200 square feet.<br />
  41. 41. As a young girl, visiting my grandparents and staying in their house was always a source of wonderment for me ….<br />
  42. 42. The house was so BIG at three stories tall, with countless rooms and endless corridors.<br />
  43. 43. The house was like a museum, full of antiques and original furnishings as well as new pieces which had been acquired over the years.<br />And there were paintings everywhere: on every wall surface, and stuffed in the many cupboards and closets throughout the house. <br />
  44. 44. The downstairs kitchen was dark and oddly set up, but cheerful.<br />
  45. 45. The large grassy front yard and trees were perfect for climbing and entertained my siblings and I for hours.<br />
  46. 46. The large front yard seemed to go on for miles….<br />We would roll down the hill but have to stop long before we ever got to the end.<br />
  47. 47. There were beautiful flowering trees all over the property, <br />
  48. 48. including a maple tree my grandmother had smuggled across the border from Canada, underneath her coat.<br />
  49. 49. My grandfather’s studio was strictly off-limits, which made it even more mysterious to us curious grandchildren.<br />
  50. 50. Here are more pictures from inside his studio.<br />
  51. 51. My grandfather, <br />Leon Makielski, devoted his entire adult life to perfecting his skill as a painter. <br />
  52. 52. He earned many awards in local art exhibitions, and his paintings have received honors from the Detroit Art Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the St. Louis Museum of Art.<br />
  53. 53. He painted portraits of notable business leaders, as well as state and national government figures. <br /> <br />
  54. 54. He also painted numerous faculty members, some 50 portraits of which are still hanging in University of Michigan buildings today. His portraits are listed in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. <br /> <br />
  55. 55. He oftentimes painted pictures of family members like this portrait of my Aunt Marjorie. He did portraits of us grandchildren, too. <br />
  56. 56. My grandparents never moved from the house that he built.<br />
  57. 57. Their five children all grew up in the house and left to establish homes of their own …<br />
  58. 58. … but they all returned often to the house they all grew up in ….<br />
  59. 59. … bringing the many grandchildren with them.<br />
  60. 60. We visited a number of times throughout the years while I was growing up.<br />
  61. 61. In 1965, the whole family gathered at Grandpa’s house to celebrate his 80th birthday.<br />
  62. 62. My grandparents were together until the end. <br />My grandmother passed in 1969 with my grandfather following in 1974 at the age 0f 89.<br />The house remained in the family until the death of Leon’s oldest daughter in 1991.<br />
  63. 63. After his passing, his many paintings have been shown in exhibitions,<br />including this recent exhibition at the Spartanburg Art Museum in Spartanburg, <br />South Carolina.<br />
  64. 64. In a biography written for one of his exhibitions, it was said that “He was able to capture innocence in a young child’s eyes,<br />
  65. 65. life experiences in an aging face, the dramatic composition of a floral still life, …<br />
  66. 66. and the enchantment of American and European landscapes”.<br />
  67. 67. My grandfather’s pictures are now sold exclusively through the Elder Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina.<br />1427 South Boulevard • Suite 101Charlotte, NC 28203704-370-6337<br />You can visit the Elder Gallery online at<br /> .<br />
  68. 68. This presentation is dedicated to my grandfather, of course, and it is also dedicated in loving memory to my beloved aunts, <br />Aunt Elizabeth & Aunt Marj.<br />Gone but not forgotten - Always in our hearts<br />Marjorie Makielski-Taylor & Elizabeth Makielski<br />
  69. 69. Thank you for looking!<br />