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July 18, 1975 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-07-18

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Friday, July 18, 1975 21

Michigan Jewish Artists Included in Wayne State U. Press Volume

Wayne State University
Press has just published a
major reference work cov-
ering the careers of 1,800
Michigan artists during
the last 200 years, entitled
"Artists of Early Michi-
gan" by Arthur Hopkin
Gibson. In the following
article, Irving I. Katz, ex-
ecutive director of Temple
Beth El, reviews the lives
of two of the major Jewish
artists mentioned in the
new WSU publication.


Myron G. Barlow was
born in Ionia. Michigan, in
1873. His father,
was born in Bresa
u. Ger-
many, in 1845, and came
with his parents, Morris and
Pauline (Schlesinger) to
Detroit at an early age.
When the Civil War broke
out, Adolph enlisted at the
age of 16 with the 5th Michi-
gan Infantry, Company C,•
and served throughout the
war, attaining the rank of
He was married in De-
troit. to Fanny Einstein on
November 24, 1867, and
lived for a number of years
in Ionia and Flint and then
returned to Detroit. The
first of their nine children
was Myron.

Myron became an inter-
nationally known painter,
starting his career in De-
troit about 1890 as a news-
paper artist. He studied
under Joseph Gies at the

Detroit Museum Art
School, and later at the
Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1894 he went to Paris
and was a pupil of Gerome
at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
He also studied under Whis-
tler, and was a protege of
In 1907, he was the only.
American artist elected to
the Societe Nationale de
Beaux Arts. In 1932 he was
made a Knight of the Legion
of Honor by the French Gov-
ernment. Although he es-
tablished his residence at
Etaples, France, he made
frequent visits to Detroit.
Barlow painted much of
the peasantry and country-
side of Northern France.
His paintings in Detroit are
to be found at the Detroit
Institute of Arts, Detroit
Historical Museum, and
many public and private col-

Of special Jewish inter-
est are his four murals at
the former synagogue
building of Temple Beth El
on Woodward and Glad-

America as their land of
He is also represented by
his paintings in Paris, Eta-
ples, France; and Milan, It-
Barlow received awards
at exhibitions in Paris, Lon-
don, San Francisco and St.
Louis. He was a member of
prestigious art societies in
Paris, London, Philadelphia
and an honorary member of
the Fine Arts Society of
Detroit. Barlow died on
August 14, 1937, at Etaples.

Frederick Elmore Cohen
was born in England in
1818 and came to Detroit
from Canada during the
1837 "Patriot" War. Being
of an adventurous disposi-
tion, he enlisted in the
Canadian Militia. It was
not his nature, however, to
take military discipline
seriously and he spent
most of his time during the
war in the jail of Sandwich
Township (Windsor).

Imprisonment seemed in
no way to have dampened_
his spirits, for the hours
spent in his cell were most
enjoyably passed in adorn-
These murals represent ing the walls with sketches,
"The Patriarch" — depict- • comic and serious, with not
ing the spiritual hospitality a few questionable cartoons
of the Jewigfi people from in which he lampooned his
the beginning of'its history; fellow soldiers and the offi-
"Prophet and Priest" — de-• cers most unmercifully.
picting the spiritual and cer- These drawings were AL
emonial aspects of Judaism; source of merriment to the
"The Student" — portraying visitors and inmates of the
the hopefulness with which jail for man years.
When peace came to the
our forefathers looked to

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area, Cohen settled in De-
troit. The decorating firm of
Godfrey, Atkinson and God-
frey, appreciating Cohen's
ability, gave him the use of
a room for a studio and also
employment at painting
decorative panels for pas-
senger boats, this being
quite a feature of their busi-
His talents as a portrait
painter were soon recog:
nized and he had many com-
missions from citizens of
prominence. Sometimes
these pictures failed to sat-
isfy the sitters and payment
for them was long delayed.
or entirely ignored. Cohen
was always equal to the
emergency and many are
the stories of his practical
jokes, not always relished
by his victims.

One of the stories told
about Cohen is of his
painting the portraits.of a
prominent Detroit stone
contractor and his popular
daughter who were not
satisfied with thee work
when completed and re-
fused to pay.

Cohen said nothing, but
took the portraits to his stu-
dio, where he painted a huge
pair of asses' ears on the
man's head, while on the
lower part of his daughter's
face he painted a beard, giv-
ing her the appearance of a
bearded woman of the cir-
He then hung the por-
traits in the corridor of the
post office, the general
meeting place of all the
townspeople. Needless to
say, the portraits were
quickly paid for and re-
moved from public exhibi-
Cohen was a handsome,
genial, witty and kindly
man, well liked by'every-
body. He was considered
quite a dandy, sporting a
blue swallowtail coat
trimmed with brass but-
tons, a buff waistcoat and a

high white beaver hat, and
was rarely 'seen without a

He was an artist of wide
range and versatility,
painting portraits, land-
scapes, historical and bibl-
ical scenes, . and many
other types of work as was
usual among early 19th
Century painters. In the
late 1840's and early
1850's, the Detroit Fire
Department conducted
many a parade with ban-
ners attesting to Cohen's
skill as a painter.

He was the teacher of
Robert Hopkin, prominent
Detroit marine painter, and
Lewis T. Ives, famous Mich-
igan portrait painter. The
Detroit Institute of Arts has
a number of paintings by
Cohen, including his self-
The Burton Historical
Collection of the Detroit
Public Library and the De-
troit Historical Museum
posses several, including the
famous "Meeting of the
Michigan State Agricultural
Society: Reading the Prem-
iums at the First State Fair,
1849" in which every face is
a portrait.
Cohen married Maria
Louisa Roberts in 1850 and
they had- two daughters.
About 1855 he moved with
his family to Mt. Vernon,
Ohio. He also spent a great
deal of time in Mansfield,
Ohio, where he had - many

Cohen exhibited his paint-
ings at the Fine Art Exhibi-
tion at Firemen's Hall in
Detroit in 1852 and 1853, at
several Michigan State
Fairs, and at the American
Art Union.
His self-portrait and a
considerable number of
paintings are at the Detroit
Institute of Arts, Detroit
Historical' Museum, public
institutions and Collectors
in Detroit and Ohio. Cohen
died in 1858 and was buried
in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.




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