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August 10, 1990 - Image 77

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-10

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

Avraham Cohen

periment didn't work the first
time through — well, I just
didn't want to hear about it!"
But doing artwork was a
different story. "I have always
loved creating graphic im-
ages, whether through pencil
drawing, pen-and-ink, or col-
or. But unlike my laboratory
work, I seem to have infinite
patience when working out
an artistic problem. There is
no rational way to explain all
this — it just comes down to
the way you are made."
Nonetheless, Cohen did not
think lightly about leaving
behind 10 years of investment
in science, graduate school
and tuition costs. "This is the
hardest thing for someone
contemplating a career
change to do: to essentially
abandon that previous effort
and make a calculated leap
ahead into the relative
unknown." Still paying off
student loans, Cohen took
that leap and has never look-
ed back.
In 15 years since he first
began doing calligraphy,
Cohen has become a national-
ly known scribe, illustrator
and graphic designer. He is
best known for his il-
luminated ketubot (Jewish
marriage contracts), family
trees and scrolls of honor,
with commissions coming in
from all over the country. His
limited edition serigraphs
and lithographs have found
their way into many homes
and galleries. And he has
developed a line of Jewish
New Year cards with the
volume of cards sold ap-
proaching 100,000 each
season.
What has helped this artist
look forward is-perhaps more
important than what he has
left in the past. Cohen is a
Torah observant Jew and is a
deeply spiritual man. "I've
been given this very special
gift from God," he says
earnestly, "and I can't take
any personal credit for that
gift. After all, you don't go
around bragging to other peo-

ple, 'Look at me, I'm
breathing!' "
But, on the other hand,
Cohen feels that along with
giftedness comes responsibili-
ty. "Each one of us has a job
to do during our lifetimes: to
develop our special gifts and
talents to their greatest
potential. I feel fortunate that
I can bring the beauty of the
Hebrew alphabet, Midrash
and Talmud into the homes of
so many through my art-
work."
In the midst of a hectic
work week with its myriad of
deadlines, Cohen regularly
sets aside time for Torah
study and even listens to
Torah tapes while drawing.
For the Renwick show,
Cohen was one of four
calligraphers chosen from
across the nation. This ex-
hibit will highlight contem-
porary work in the four
oldest calligraphic traditions:
Hebrew, English, Chinese
and Arabic. Vicki Halpern
was the visiting curatorial
fellow at the Renwick who,
about a year ago, conceived of
putting this show together.
Asked why Avraham Cohen's
work was chosen, she replied
simply, "His was the best
around."
Included in Cohen's work to
be on display are two ketubot,
an "Aishet Chayil" ("Woman
of Valor," the last chapter of
the Book of Proverbs), an il-
luminated megillah scroll
(from the Book of Esther) and
mezuzah and tefillin scrolls.
A symposium is planned for
June 10 at the Renwick
Gallery where the four artists
will discuss their work.
Cohen's calligraphy and il-
lustration have been acclaim-
ed for their meticulous style
and high level of attention to
detail. His watercolor il-
lustration often combines
sharp-focus hand-brushed im-
agery together with an
overall looser surrealistic
look.
With a little prompting,
Cohen muses about his pre-
sent and future state of af-
fairs. "Hanging in the Ren-
wick is terrific, and I'm cer-
tainly not complaining about
the additional exposure! I'm
grateful that I've been able to
reach this level."

But, of course, it just didn't
happen overnight. "There
were times when there wasn't
much food in the house, and
there was less money in the
bank, and we wondered what
we would do next. But
through those times and the
times when people told me I
was crazy for leaving 'a stable
career in science,' I simply
stuck to my vision of where I
wanted to be." ❑

What do you think
they're worth today?

'

— Albert Scaglione, Park West Gallery

"The Chagall lithograph is now worth
$54,000. The sofa? Perhaps a few hundred
dollars. Of course, not every work of art will

appreciate so dramatically. That's why so many
people come to us. Just as an interior designer
helps you put together the right environment,

we help you build an art collection. And it
doesn't have to be expensive. You could easily
collect an appreciable work of art for under
$1,000 . . . See for yourself. Visit the gallery. It's
not at all intimidating. In fact, it's quite
comfortable . . . Like your favorite sofa."

PARK ANEST

G•A•L•L•E•R• Y

Dedicated to the appreciation of art.

Park West Plaza
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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

77

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