Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rusyn Festivities

Rus'kyj Muzikanty
Photo courtesy of Christina Duranko

On October 16th, the Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural Center came alive with an exciting array of Rusyn activities.  We enjoyed live folk music by Rus'kyj Muzikanty.  There were beautiful Rusyn crafts and entertaining children's activities.  Local Rusyn organizations and independent vendors offered a variety of merchandise.  There were educational and decorative items, books, CDs, DVDs, folk items, jewelry, clothing and more.  Delicious pastries and a variety of Rusyn foods appealed to just about every taste.

Paul Warhola art
A cleverly-designed exhibit featuring the art of Paul Warhola was the centerpiece of the event.  This was complimented by a display of Rusyn folk costumes and paintings of Spiš County in Slovakia.  We were thrilled when Paul Warhola actually stopped by with his wife and daughter for a brief visit.

Exhibit designed by Maria Silvestri
Ted Zatkovich and Connie Ash, children of the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus, gave a moving account of his life.  Gregory Zatkovich was a Pittsburgh attorney who was selected by the Wilson Administration to head the autonomous region at the very creation of Czechoslovakia.   He served for several years before returning to practice law in the US.
Left to right:  Paul Warhola, Connie  Ash, and Ted Zatkovich

Following their presentation we held our annual meeting, which was very informative and brief.

In the evening we hosted a zabava (dance party), learned Rusyn dances, and continued to enjoy good friends, good food, and good bottled water.  And other things.  It was a wonderful way to end the day.  Thank you all for coming.  And for those of you who could not attend, we hope you will join us next October.

Written by:  Maryann Sivak (

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Exhibit Virtual Tour: Spiš Regional Folk Costume [Part 1]

Over the next week or so, I'll be posting photos, text and some videos so that folks who couldn't make it to Pittsburgh for the event can see the exhibits as well as possible.  This should be fun, as there are some things that can be done virtually that can't be done in real life, which should make up for you staring at a computer screen.

Until the 13th century Spiš County of north central Hungary (today in east central Slovakia) was sparsely populated and was a part of the territory known as “No Man’s Land.” In the late 1200s and 1300s, the Hungarian government invited populations from the West – Germans and Slovaks — and those from the East – Carpatho-Rusyns — to settle this rocky, mountainous region.  These three populations were joined by Roma (Gypsies), Jews and Poles known as “Gorale” to make Spiš one of the most ethnically diverse regions of old Austria-Hungary.
The folk costumes of the Rusyns in Spiš are influenced by cloth making and decorative techniques refined by and brought by the Germans to this region. Germans brought with them advanced dyeing techniques, which made brilliantly colored cloth possible. They also brought with them lace making styles that added lace to many of the costumes of this region.
Two costume components distinct to Spiš county among Rusyns are the use of batiked cloth – placing beeswax on white cloth and then dying it blue, removing the wax to reveal the pattern underneath; and the use of red threads stitched very closely to one another to create large areas of vibrant red color in embroidery.
John Righetti

Torysky / Торискы - on loan from the collection of Walter and Anna Orange
Kojšov / Койшов - on loan from the collection of Ann and Joe Lesko
Sleeve detail from Kojšov kroj
Jakubany / Якубяны - on loan from the collection of Maryann Sivak
Skirt and apron detail from Jakubany kroj
Litmanová / Лiтманова (left) and Jarabina / Орябина (right) - Litmanova kroj C-RS Collection donated by Stephanie Salony, Orjabyna kroj on loan from the collection of Rita Benya
Cuff detail from Litmanová kroj

View Spiš Regional Folk Costume in a larger map

Special thanks to Barbara Perlstein for her help in completing this display, and to everyone who was so generous to loan their kroj. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What Else to Do While You're in Pittsburgh

There are lots of events happening in Pittsburgh next weekend that coincide with the Rusyn Fall Fest celebrating Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage at the National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center!

If you're arriving early, Saint Elias Byzantine Catholic Church in Munhall is having a fish fry on Friday, October 15 from 11am to 3pm -- this is one of the best local fish fries, with hand-battered fish!  They're having an Oktoberfest on Satuday the 16th and Sunday the 17th as well.  AND, just two blocks from the Cultural Center, Saint Nicholas Carpatho-Russian Orthdox Church will be having their Fall Festival also on the 15th, 16th and 17th.

The main Carpatho-Rusyn events are on Saturday, and are already detailed on this blog and on the C-RS site.

If you're coming from out of town and are interested in exploring Pittsburgh further, Sunday the 17th is the last night of the Pittsburgh Festival of Lights downtown on Penn Avenue.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Press release

When:                     October 16, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m.
What:                      Rusyn Fest/Annual meeting/Rusyn Day
Where:                    Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center
                                 915 Dickson Street, Munhall, PA 15120

Warhol  Family art, children of first Rusyn governor, international leaders  to highlight celebration of first Carpatho-Rusyn Day.  The children of the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus’ and  original art work done by members of Andy Warhol’s family will be among the highlights of the first International Carpatho-Rusyn Day.

The local version of this international celebration will be held on Sat. Oct 16 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. at the National Carpatho-Rusyn Cultural and Educational Center , 915 Dickson St in Munhall, PA.

Carpatho-Rusyn Day was created by the World Council of Rusyns, the international body which oversees Carpatho-Rusyn cultural development worldwide. For Carpatho-Rusyn Day, every Rusyn cultural organization in the world is to create an event dedicated to achieving recognition of Carpatho-Rusyns and their contributions to world culture. The events of Oct. 16 are sponsored by the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, a North American cultural organization based in Pittsburgh.

“Our celebration of Carpatho-Rusyn Day has a wide array of Rusyn activities that would appeal to both Carpatho-Rusyns and the general public, which was our intention,” said John Righetti, National President of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and  the North American representative to the World Council of Rusyns.

The day starts with the Rusyn Fall Festival which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local Rusyn organizations and vendors will have Rusyn food and pastries for sale. The Center’s Carpatho-Rusyn Marketplace gift shop will be open and feature a variety of Rusyn educational and decorative items – books, CDs, DVDs, folk craft items , jewelry, clothing and more. Other local vendors will be selling a wide variety of international and local goods as well.

Throughout the  day , the public will be able to browse the Center’s new exhibits  which will include the ONE DAY ONLY exhibit of the art of the Warhola Family – a display of traditional and nontraditional artwork by pop artist  Andy Warhol’s relatives, including his brother , niece and nephews and sister-in-law. Andy Warhol was of Carpatho-Rusyn heritage.

Also unveiled will be a display of Rusyn costumes of Spis county in Slovakia and a display of highlight items  of the Cultural Center’s European and American Rusyn artistic and historical collections. These will join an existing display on the governor of Subcarpathian Rus’, Gregory Zatkovich, a Homestead lawyer who returned to the Rusyn homeland to become its first governor when it joined Czechoslovakia in 1919.

At 4 p.m. the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will hold its annual meeting. Guest speakers will be Ted Zatkovich Gregg and Connie Zatkovich Ash, children of Gregory Zatkovich.

From 6 – 10 p.m. the Carpatho-Rusyn Society will host a Zabava or Rusyn Dance party featuring the noted Rusyn band Ruskyj Muzikanty of Pittsburgh. Dean Poloka of the Slavjane Ensemble of McKees Rocks will teach basic Rusyn dancing to those unfamiliar. Rusyn food and beverages will be for sale. An admission charge of $5.00 for those 18 and older; all children are free.

For more information on Carpatho-Rusyn Day and the festivities, e-mail or call 412-567-307

(Written by John Righetti, President of the C-RS)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Upcoming Event: Carpatho-Rusyn Day

Rusyn Fall Festival with Rusyn food vendors, artisans, and ethnic items
Rusyn Costumes from Spiš County
ONE DAY ONLY art exhibit "Paul Warhola's Family"

C-RS Annual Meeting with guest speakers
Ted Zatkovich Gregg and Connie Zatkovich Ash - children of the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus'

RUSYN DANCE PARTY with Rus'kyj Muzikanty. Rusyn dance instruction available from Slavjane's Dean Poloka. Rusyn food and drink for sale. BYOB.

For more information call 412-567-3077 or e-mail