The 6-Minute Challenge, Vol 16 – Student Special

Thu, MARCH 28, 2024, at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan

Since 2015, SVU NY’s signature program The 6-Minute Challenge invites scholars, scientists, artists, and professionals of Czech or Slovak descent and challenges them to introduce their talent, the subject of their work, project, research, or studies in a short presentation limited to six minutes.

This special edition will feature students of Czech and Slovak descent at Columbia University, New York University, and The New School for Social Research: Jáchym Harwood (CU – Biology and Environmental Science), Jennifer Helinek (CU – Eastern European Studies), Maxwell Lurken-Tvrdik (CU – Sociology), Natalie Plavec (NYU – Applied Psychology), Nicole Plavec (NYU – Applied Psychology and Anthropology), Karolina Poliakova (CU -Science Communication), Eben Rose (New School – Crisis and Environmental Economics), Karel Andres Ruiz (CU – Comparative Literature) and René Strezenicky Franko (CU – Biology and Russian)


Moderated by Christopher Harwood, PhD

Free. Suggested donation $10
Limited seating.


A Brief Foray into the Alchemy of Stem Cell Research

HYNEKThursday, APRIL 18, 2024 at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall in NYC

A talk by Dr. Hynek Wichterle, Columbia University Medical Center

Join us for a fascinating journey into Professor Hynek Wichterle’s stem cell research at Columbia University Medical Center. He developed groundbreaking methods for producing spinal cord neurons from pluripotent embryonic stem cells in a culture dish. The goal of his work is to unlock the mysteries of brain development and discover new treatments that promote motor neuron survival in patients affected by ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Fun fact: Hynek Wichterle is a proud grandson of Otto Wichterle, the Czech scientist who invented hydrogels and soft contact lenses.

Limited seating. RSVP via Eventbrite link
Free. Suggested donation $10.

HYNEK WICHTERLE is a professor holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Pathology & Cell Biology and Neuroscience (in Neurology) at Columbia University Medical Center. He received his M.S. degree from Charles University in Prague and his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University. He trained at Columbia University, where he was appointed assistant professor in 2004 and a Jerry and Emily Spiegel professor in 2021. He serves as a co-director of the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease and as a Vice-Chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.

Photo Paul Ort, Painting of Otto Wichterle Hana Shannon


Sunday, FEBRUARY 11 @ 3 pm
Theater for the New City
155 First Ave @ 10th Street, NYC

Join our group when we attend the matinee show of The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the First World War, a unique production of the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater (CAMT) based on a Czech iconic satirical 1921 antiwar novel by Jaroslav Hasek. SVU NY board member and CAMT’s artistic director, Vit Horejs, has worked his magic to bring this rich and hilarious text to life through a unique combination of marionettes and actors! After the show, we will go for drinks and/or dinner at the Ukrainian East Village Restaurant and chat with the director and cast members. (The restaurant sends a portion of the sales to support Ukraine.)

Please REGISTER FOR THE AFTER-SHOW MEET-UP at the RESTAURANT HERE by Thursday, February 8. Include your name, email, and number of people coming. SEATING is LIMITED – the maximum size of our group is 20 people.

Buy the SHOW TICKETS HERE: $18; seniors and students $15.


The AMAZING BREUER: Czech-American Pioneer of Science Fiction in the USA (1889 –1945)

A talk by Jaroslav Olša, Jr.


Sunday, February 25, at 4 pm (EST)

Mr. Olsa discussed the life and work of a Czech American writer who stood at the birth of science fiction literature in the USA.

When the American editor Hugo Gernsback started in 1926 the first science fiction monthly magazine, Amazing Stories, he was soon faced with a shortage of authors. In 1927, a new contributor, Miles J. Breuer, a physician of Czech origin in Nebraska, joined the magazine with his story “The Man with the Strange Head.” Later, Breuer published two novels, thirty-six shorter stories, and several other items for science fiction magazines.
While Miles J. Breuer made a mark in US science fiction, his Czech alter ego, Miloslav J. Breuer, was only discovered in 2020. Until recently, experts thought Breuer was a literary newcomer at that time. But Mr. Olsa’s recent research discovered that Breuer was a prolific writer since 1909 and numerous Czech-American publications published his stories written originally in Czech.

Jaroslav Olša, Jr. is a Czech career diplomat with more than 30 years of experience, including posts as Ambassador to Zimbabwe (2000-2006), South Korea (2008-2014), and the Philippines (2014-2018). Since 2020, he has served as Consul General in Los Angeles. Mr. Olša is also a writer with a passion for science fiction. He published many articles and edited over a dozen Czech and international science fiction anthologies. He also authored books on culture and the relations between the Czech Lands, Asia, and Africa. His most recent books are Czech Painters of California (2023) and Miloslav (Miles) J. Breuer: Cesko-americký spisovatel u zrodu moderní science fiction (2023).

The Amazing Breuer in Czech
The Amazing Breuer in English to download


Stepping into the Future: The Art and Science of Shoe Design


A talk by Oldrich Voyta
Friday, January 26 at 7 pm


The award-winning Czech footwear designer and technology researcher, Oldrich Voyta discussed the relationship between art, beauty, craftsmanship, modern technology, aesthetics, and comfort in designing shoes. He finds inspiration in the lines of the human body and the biomechanical principles of movement. He was invited to produce shoes for the new Czech First Lady of the Czech Republic, Eva Pavel, to be worn at the presidential inauguration in March 2023 in Prague.

Oldrich Voyta holds his MA in Footwear Design at Tomas Bata University in Zlin (TBU) and is currently pursuing a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Technology at TBU, focusing on the Technology of Macromolecular Compounds. His research centers on women’s high-heeled shoes with a 3D cushioning membrane. With a rich background that includes working as a leading designer in Beijing and receiving the 1st Red Dot Award in 2018 for his contributions to the Air Purifier by ATMPBLUE project, Oldrich’s work has been showcased at renowned events like Beijing Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, Milano Design Week, and the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Photos from the event on FaceBook

The 6-Minute Challenge, Vol. 15!

Join us for our signature program since 2014, when artists, professionals, scholars and scientists of Czech or Slovak descent are challenged to introduce their talent, the subject of their work, project, research, or studies in a short presentation limited to six minutes. In English.
You will learn, laugh, and enjoy impressive performances!

Thursday, December 7, 2023
Moderated by Christopher Harwood


In our 15th edition, we will welcome the following presenters:
Matej Cíp (cimbalom player, student at Berklee NYC), Ilona Kohlová (graphic designer, artist), Aneta Kohoutová (Fulbright- ethics of public spaces), Jana Krupková (arts management & production), Pavel Liska (immersive artist), Barbora Lišková (event producer), Luboš Náprstek (luthier), Alicka Pistek (communications & emerging technology), Yvette Vašourková (Fulbright-architecture and public spaces), and Klára Zíková English (mezzo-soprano)

6-Minute Challenge, Vol 15, Dec 7, 2023- edited recordings on YouTube


Jana Krupkova

Klara Zikova English

Lubos Naprstek

Ilona Kohlova

Alicka Pistek

Aneta Kohoutova

Yvette Vasourkova

Barbora Liskova

Pavel Liska

Matej Cip

Bonus performance

Q & A

Alumni Toast and Cake

Organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter with the support of BBLA.

Against Everything: The Brothers Topol and the Second Generation of Dissent 🗓

A TALK BY DANIEL W. PRATT, PhD, McGill University

November 16, 2023
Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan


This talk discusses two prominent figures of the Czech 1980s generation, brothers Jáchym and Filip Topol. Filip was the lead singer of Psí vojáci (Dog Soldiers), a legendary band that played its first concert for Havel himself. Jáchym became a popular author of stories and unconventional novels. He was also an editor of Revolver Revue, an underground periodical. His apartment was the site for numerous dissident happenings. Although both brothers became dissidents, and both signed Charter 77, they rejected the notion of a pre-political self and projected an almost nihilistic stance against everything.


When scholars discuss the story of dissent in Czechoslovakia, the conversation usually hovers around the usual suspects: Václav Havel, Ivan Klíma, Jaroslav Seifert, The Plastics, Ivan Martin Jirous, and Egon Bondy. This group, along with the great filmmakers of the Czech New Wave, all born between roughly 1930 and 1950, still constitute the basis of most discussions of Czech culture under Socialism. To a certain degree, their innovations, cultural value, and international appeal justify their position. What has received a great deal less scholarly attention, however, is the generation that came next, that had never known the relative freedom of the “Prague Spring” and grew up in the fallout of Charter 77. That generation, as exemplified by the Brothers Topol, and also including Vít Kremli?ka, Petr Placák, Anna Wágnerová, Jirí Hášek (JH Krchovský), and others, worked with different values, trying to position themselves not only against the Communist government but also against the previous generation of dissent.

Daniel W. Pratt is Assistant Professor of Slavic Culture at McGill University. He works on Czech, Polish, Russian, Austrian, and Hungarian literature and culture, and his interests include narratology, dissent, nationality studies, aesthetics, and the intersection of literature and philosophy. His current book projects are Against Narrative: Non-narrative Constructions of Temporality in Central Europe and Bruno Jasie?ski, Internationalist, and he has written on Czechoslovak dissident punk rock, Gombrowicz’s interactions with Gilles Delleuze, and the meaning of history in Central Europe, amongst other topics. For the Fall semester of 2023, he is the István Deák Visiting Assistant Professor of East Central European Studies at Columbia University

Jaroslav Josef Polívka, Frank Lloyd Wright, and New York

September 28, 2023, at 7 PM
Bohemian National Hall, Manhattan

A talk by Ladislav Jackson, PhD

The talk presented the lesser-known facts about the design and construction of the Guggenheim Museum between 1946 and 1949 when a Czech structural engineer, Jaroslav Josef Polívka, invented the iconic spiral diverging ramp without inner supporting pillars. Between 1946 and 1959, Polivka designed structural constructions for another eight of Frank Lloyd Wright’s projects. The speaker discussed Polivka’s unique influence on Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, specifically the Guggenheim Museum and Belmont Racetrack Pavillion in New York City.


Ladislav Jackson (formerly Zikmund-Lender) is a visual arts and architecture historian. Since 2018, he has been an assistant professor at the Department of History and Theory of Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology (VUT Brno), where he teaches global and local 20th-Century Art courses and critical theory (feminist, queer, and critical race studies). His research focuses on 20th-century architecture and design; and gender and queer studies in art history. In 2016, he was a Fulbright scholar University of California in Berkeley. Jackson also curates exhibitions on architecture and design and wrote, edited, or co-edited about twenty books, including Hotel Praha (2019), Villas and Family Houses in Hradec Králové (2020), Myth of an Architect: Jan Kot?ra 150 (2021), The Church of the Divine Heart: 1928?1932 (2022) and his latest Philosopher of Structures: Architect and Engineer Jaroslav J. Polívka (1886–1960). He is an executive director of the Society for Queer Memory in Prague.

This event was organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) in New York with the support of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association.

Czech History in Brooklyn

June 4, 2023, at 11 am
First Unitarian Congregational Society
119-120 Pierrepont St. @ Monroe St.
Brooklyn Heights, NYC

We joined the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn to commemorate the 100th anniversary celebration of the Flower Communion ceremony introduced in 1923 by Dr. Norbert Capek, founder of Czech Unitaria in Prague. It was the home church of Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1923), the Brooklyn-born First Lady of newly formed Czechoslovakia in 1918. Both her husband, Tomáš Masaryk, and her son Jan spoke from this church’s pulpit. Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk was instrumental in developing close ties of this church with the Czechoslovak Unitaria. The ninth reverend of this Brooklyn church, John Howland Lathrop, headed a relief program in Czechoslovakia following World War II. You can find some memorabilia and photos in the church. A glass window depicting Jan Hus was donated by Alice Masaryk.

We were joined by Mr. Scott Fredrick, a great grandson of Norbert Capek!

The full-service streaming on Facebook.

15:40 Singing the hymn Mother Spirit by Norbert Capek
34:52 Rev.Meagan Henry about Norbert Capek
1:25:00 Singing a Czech folk song Aj lucka, lucka , in Czech!

In Czech
Story of the Flower Communion made in 1993 for Radio Free Europe by Suzanna Pakesova Halsey. She added images to the original audio-only recording.

(Czech) Photography of the New Millennium

Photography of the New Millennium
An illustrated talk and book presentation
by Marian Beneš, Ph.D., MQEP

Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at 7 PM
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd Floor
321 E 73 St, Manhattan

The award-winning Czech photographer and educator Marian Beneš will present his photographic work, including the fascinating images of the Bohemian National Hall renovation and the portraits of Czech compatriots living in New York City. He will also offer historical insight into the beginnings of digital photography and its specifics in the Czech Republic. We will learn about his collaboration with Prof. Miroslav Vojt?chovský, the doyen of Czech photography, and their work with students as reflected in his new book Photography of the New Millennium: From Technical Mutations to the Poetics of Authorial Creation. For this book, he received in 2022 the prestigious Best Publisher Title prize in the FEP European Photo Book Award competition in Rome.

Moderated by Christopher Harwood, PhD


Marian Beneš is a photographer, university educator, curator, juror, a holder of the Master Qualified European Photographer title (MQEP) awarded by the Federation of European Professional Photographers.
He is a Head of the Studio of Photography and Audio-Visual Arts at the University of Creative Communication in Prague and a vice-president of the Association of Professional Photographers of the Czech Republic. He also teaches at the Institute of Creative Photography at Silesian University. He graduated from the Film Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and received his doctorate from the Faculty of Art and Design at J. E. Purkyn? University. As a Fulbright scholar, he studied at the International Center of Photography in New York City. His work includes digital photography for communication campaigns, advertising, editorials, and exhibitions. His award-winning photography has been widely exhibited and is included in the collections of private collectors, galleries, and institutions.


MARCH 22, 2023, at 7pm
Bohemian National Hall, Manhattan

Scholars, scientists, artists, and professionals of Czech or Slovak descent are challenged to introduce the subject of their work, project, research or studies in a short presentation limited to six minutes. A signature program of SVU, New York Chapte, since 2014. In English.

Moderated by Christopher Harwood

Presenters: Jaroslav Bendl (Assistant Professor, Icahn School of Medicine – bioinformatics), Jaroslav Borovicka (Associate Professor, New York University – economics), Viktor Dvorak (counselor, EU delegation to the United Nations), Eva Giannone (Baker and Energy natural medicine consultant), Tomas Jamnik (violoncellist, Fulbright Scholar), Eva Jamnikova (violinist), Michala Metzler (Founder OYA New Earth), Irena Michalcik (OCR athlete and educator), and Pavel Semerak (Bohemian National Hall renovation manager.)


Organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter.


Bedrich Feuerstein: Prague-Paris-Tokyo and New York

An illustrated talk by Helena Capkova, PhD

Tuesday, FEBRUARY 28, 2023, at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall
321 E 73 St, New York



Bedrich Feuerstein was an influential member of the Czechoslovak and European avant-garde of the interwar period. He was a cosmopolitan figure, always on the move seeking inspiration and inspiring the rich network of his collaborators. He spent two years at the Perrets’ atelier in Paris and four years working with Antonín Raymond in Japan. The key project of his career developed for Raymond was the St. Luke’s Hospital in Tokyo. As a part of the design process, Feuerstein visited the US and studied the most progressive hospitals, such as the Presbyterian and Mt. Sinai in New York. The talk will introduce Feuerstein’s rich and diverse design work focusing on his American research trip and its outcomes.

HELENA CAPKOVÁ, PhD, is a Czech Tokyo/Kyoto-based curator, researcher, and art history professor at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto. She studied transnational visual culture and Japanese studies in Prague and London. As a PhD candidate, she collaborated on international and interdisciplinary research projects such as Forgotten Japonisme (2007-2010) and later Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism, and the Arts, c.1875-1960 (2013-2015). Since 2010, she has published and lectured extensively about the specific nature of Japanese modernism and avant-garde, which she considers an inherent part of art history, traditionally perceived as Western. Her publications on this topic include ” Believe in socialism!: Architect Bedrich Feuerstein and His Perspective on Modern Japan and Architecture (2016) and “Careless Shell “– Transnational exploration of Czechoslovak and Japanese Surrealisme (2015). In 2017, she designed a series about architect Antonin Raymond at the Tokyo Czech Center. The successful series led to the book Antonín Raymond in Japan (1948–1976), which she edited with architect K. Kitazawa.

In 2022, Dr. Capková curated an extensive exhibition, Bedrich Feuerstein, Architect: Prague-Paris-Tokyo and New York, at the National Technical Museum in Prague. There will be a few copies of the catalog available for sale at the event. Catalogs are also available online from the National Technical Museum:

A recording of Dr. Capková’s 2021 SVU NY Zoom talk about another important Czech architect Antonin Raymond is available on SVU NY YouTube Channel.

This event is organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter, with the support of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA).

Texas Czech Legacy Project

Preserving the Czech Language around the World

An illustrated talk by Lida Cope, PhD
Sunday, January 22 at 3 PM (EST)


Linguistics professor Lida Cope talks about her efforts to document a dying dialect of Czech Moravians who started arriving in Texas in the second half of the 19th century, about Svatava Pírková Jakobson, who gathered a unique archive of folklore from immigrants in New York City’s “Czech village,” Texas, and elsewhere, and about the challenges in promoting and preserving Czech language, culture, and identity in the English-speaking world.

Lida Cope is a professor of applied linguistics at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Her areas of expertise include first language attrition, language contact and diaspora, and language documentation. Her research examines the questions of language, culture, and identity in historically Czech Moravian communities in Texas. Dr. Cope directs the Texas Czech Legacy Project, housed at the University of Texas at Austin, whose main objective is to build an open-access corpus of Texas Czech speech. Her publications include a comprehensive overview of Czech communities around the world Language loss: Czech in the diaspora (co-authored with Robert Dittmann of Charles University, BRILL 2020) and Taking Stock and Looking Forward: Documenting a diasporic variety of Czech in Texas (Naše ?e? [Our Speech] 2021).



DECEMBER 14 at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan

Since 2014, this signature program of SVU NY has challenged scholars, scientists, students, artists, and professionals of Czech and Slovak descent to introduce their work, project, or subject of their research or studies in a short presentation limited to six minutes. In English.
Moderated by Christopher Harwood, Ph.D., Columbia University

Organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU/NY), New York chapter, in association with the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic, and with the support of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association (BBLA).

Ivana Andersen (visual art), Katerina Dvorakova Mankova  (photography), Eva Giannone  (baking and Energy USA, natural medicine), Roman Lewkowicz (folk dance Limboracik), Katerina Lu (ballroom dance), Jakub Mihalik, PhD (Fulbright Scholar at New York University – Philosophy), Michal Racyn (Fulbright PhD student at Columbia University – Slavic Studies), René Georg Vasicek (creative writing & experimental writer), and Otto Zizak, Jr.  (restaurateur, musician, farmer, generalist).


Free and open to the public.
Suggested donation of $5.00
Seating is limited.
Click here for the program notes with speakers’ bios.


Last year’s edition of The 6-Minute Challenge, Vol. 12 in 2021, is available on our YouTube Channel.