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December 02, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

FRONTLINES

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Sculpture Serves As Testimony
To Artist's Love For Detroit

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14

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1988

Suite 134
Birmingham 642-5575

Hours:
Daily 10:00-5:30
Thurs. 10:00-7:00
Sat. 10:00-4:00

ELIZABETH KAPLAN

Staff Writer

eonard
Schwartz
wanted a place to call
home.
He came to Detroit in 1928
when he was five. His mother
was in a sanitarium, and his
father no longer was in con-
tact with the family. Leonard
was sent to a foster home,
then another, and then 10
more.
But then things got better
when Leonard went to Camp
Tamarack, where he caught
the attention of the arts and
crafts counselor, Irving
Rosen.
Rosen remembers well the
first time he saw the 15-year-
old Schwartz sculpt a bust of
Abraham Lincoln. "I was
astonished."
Schwartz dedicated his life
to art, and he wanted to use
his talent to repay the Jewish
community of Detroit.
One way he did this was to
create a large sculpture of a
mother holding her child,
which was dedicated in 1960
at the Jewish Community
Center on Meyers and Curtis.
The sculpture still stands
outside the JCC, now located
in West Bloomfield. Its
creator died last October.
Friends, family and
students of Leonard Schwartz
plan to establish a memorial
fund in his name and will
hold a memorial service in
honor of the late artist at 4
p.m., Dec. 11 at the JCC.
Irving Rosen will be there.
So will Irwin Shaw, director of
Tamarack when Leonard
Schwartz was a camper, along
with Schwartz's friends
Donald Schiller and Dr.
Joseph Epel.
Epel was one of the first
people Schwartz met when he
came to Detroit. The two
became friends during the
Depression, Epel recalls,
when a loaf of bread cost a
nickel.
The Epel home was already
filled with borders, including
several in the basement.
Epel, his brother and sister
shared one room.
A young woman arrived one
day to rent a room for her
nephew, Leonard Schwartz.
He was "an underfed, skinny,
sickly child," Epel recalls.
Epel's parents quickly grew
fond of the boy and wanted to
keep him, but were told,
without explanation, that
they did not qualify as foster
parents.
So Schwartz was taken to

Schwartz's sculpture "The Offering"

another foster home, where
he joined seven other
children.
The only consistent factor of
Schwartz's childhood was
Camp Tamarack.
"I think that at camp, he
felt equal to everyone else. He
didn't have any parents and
there, nobody else did either,"
Shaw says. "The camp provid-
ed him with the only stable
atmosphere he had. That was
his home."

Schwartz started out as a
waiter at Camp Tamarack,
but his real love was the art
department. He quickly
became friends with the
camp's arts and crafts
counselor, Irving Rosen.
"I begged my mother to
adopt him," Rosen recalls.
"But she said, 'I can hardly
handle what I have: I don't
think I spoke to her for five

months after that. I really
wanted him to be my little
brother."
Camp Director Shaw was
equally impressed with
Schwartz's talent and went to
the Jewish Community
Center to arrange classes for
him in the art department.
Art was a subject about
which Schwartz had very
definite views, Donald
Schiller recalls. Schwartz liv-
ed for a time with Schiller's
grandparents, and the two
were friends in the Boy
Scouts.
"As much as Leonard
wanted to enjoy the finer
things in life, he could not
permit himself to place
money first," he says. "He
really believed in art for art's
sake.
"I remember someone once
told him he should paint por-
traits, that he could make a

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