Pola Chapelle

Funeral Service

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Sunday, June 6, 2021
St. John's Episcopal Church
River Road
Barrytown, New York, United States


3:00 pm
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Bard College Cemetery
Bard Campus
Annandale-On-Hudson, New York, United States

Obituary of Pola Chapelle

Beloved widow and former creative partner of filmmaker Adolfas Mekas passed away on June 1st at her home in Rhinebeck, New York surrounded by family and friends. A singer and performer, Chapelle grew up in Lower Manhattan and lived in Italy as a teenager in the 1950s, where she studied Italian and music. After returning to the states, Chapelle entertained audiences in clubs in New York, Los Angeles and on cruise ships, singing standards and Italian love songs.


Chapelle first met Adolfas Mekas at a party in New York City, not long after his film Hallelujah the Hills debuted at Cannes, and after their first date, when the dashing filmmaker threw his hat out a taxi window because he thought she didn't like it, the two were inseparable. They were married in October of 1965, after which Chapelle became a regular figure and voice in the American avant-garde art and cinema scene, working as her husband's partner on many projects. She collaborated on the film Going Home (1972), a journey back to Lithuanian home of brothers Adolfas and Jonas Mekas. Chapelle also founded and ran the Cat Film Festival from 1973 to 1975, to which she contributed the short film, How to Draw a Cat.


In 1990, Chapelle launched Pro Danza, an international dance program held in her beloved Castiglioncello on the northwestern coast of Italy, which attracted dancers from all over the world and ran for 25 years. After her husband passed away in May 2011, Chapelle went to work publishing The Adolfas Diaries, which chronicles the artist's WWII odyssey from Lithuania to America by way of forced labor camps and the deprivations of war.


Chapelle is survived by her son Sean Mekas and daughter-in-law Sara Reid. Funeral services will be held on Sunday June 6 at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Barrytown, NY at 2 pm. Burial will immediately follow at Bard College cemetery.


Arrangements are under the direction of Burnett & White Funeral Homes 7461 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY.


Share Your Memory of