Meyers Rohowsky (Norwich, Connecticut, 1900 – 1974, Westfield, New Jersey)
Painter, Sculptor, Muralist, Teacher; Realist and Abstract
Meyers Rohowsky was born in Norwich, Connecticut. During his teens he studied with a group of other young men, including Milton Avery, at the School of the Art Society of Hartford, Connecticut. Later a number of them rented a loft in order to have a place to paint when the galleries were closed and because of the conservatism of the Society.
In WWI he enlisted in the Marines. Following the war he traveled in the Caribbean and Mexico and moved to New York to study German Expressionist art and worked as a commercial artist. He pursued studies at the Beaux Arts School and the Art Students League, supporting himself by working as a cartoonist for the Fleisher Studios (who produced Popeye cartoons). During the 1930s he was a member of the WPA and worked with Raphael and Moses Soyer and Ad Reinhardt under the supervision of Burgoyne Diller on a number of murals.
He enlisted in the army during WWII (4th armored division, 3rd Army). Wounded during the Battle of the Bulge, he was sent back to Paris and, facilitated by the gift of several cartons of American cigarettes, introduced himself to Picasso.
Following the war he returned to New York City and later returned to Europe (1949-1950) traveling widely and studying at the Académie Julien in Paris and the Graphische Lehr in Vienna.
In 1950 he returned to New York City and established a studio at 7 Washington Place which he shared for a time with Ad Reinhardt. On Thanksgiving eve 1954, the studio with a show packed for shipment to Washington, DC, went up in flames. Following the fire he traveled to Mexico and relocated to New Jersey where he continued to paint and conduct private classes. In 1960 he began working in sculpture, first in cast bronze then in welded steel.
Among his closest friends and associates were Louis Lozowick, Riva Helfond, Bill Gropper, Harry Bertoia, Robert Gwathmey, Philip Evergood, Helen West Heller, Louise Nevelson, Irene Rice Pereira, Ad Reinhardt, Herbert Kallem, the Soyer brothers and Philip Reisman.
His work is represented in numerous public and private collections. For many years he was president of the New Jersey chapter of Artists Equity, and served on the national board. A retrospective of his work was held at The Montclair Art Museum, May 4 to June 15, 1975.
President, Artists Equity Association, New Jersey Chapter
Member, Mural Painters Guild
Chairman, Association of Veteran Artists
Associated Artists of New Jersey
Audubon Artists Art Society, New York
Selected Murals & Sculpture commissions:
DeWitt Clinton High School, The Bronx, NY
U.S. Naval Reserve Building, Ward Room, Whitestone, NY
Architects Display Building, Mountainside, NJ
Lockheed Electronics, Plainfield/Metuchen, NJ (with W. Carl Burger)
Bloomfield State College, Bloomfield, NJ
Calvary Lutheran Church, Cranford, NJ (baptismal font)
Temple Israel, Union, NJ
Ridge High School, Basking Ridge, NJ
New Providence High School, New Providence, NJ
Selected Group Exhibitions:
United States Information Agency, traveling exhibition of graphic art in post-war Europe.
1964 World’s Fair, New Jersey State Pavilion
New York City WPA Art, Parsons School of Design, 1978.
United States Senate Office Building, Washington, DC (revolving exhibitions during tenure of Senator Harrison Williams, Jr.)
Painting the Town, Cityscapes from the Museum of the City of New York, April 13 to June 23, 2000, Paine Webber Art Gallery, New York, NY.
National Academy of Design, New York, NY
Hunterdon County Art Center, Clinton, NJ
Whitney Museum, New York, NY
This is Our War, Artist’s League of America, Wildenstein & Co., New York, NY
Selected Public Collections:
Colby College Art Museum, Colby College, Waterville, ME
Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ
Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ
The Albertina, Vienna, Austria
Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, NY
Selected Prizes, Awards and Honors:
Sculpture Prize, Annual New Jersey State Exhibition, 1967
Governor of New Jersey Purchase Award, 1969
Selected Publications, Published Pictures, Catalogs & Reviews:
Architecture, The New Jersey Society of Architects, vol. 5, no. 1, illus. p 12, 1971
Art News, January 1947, p. 54
House and Garden, February 1962, p. 99
Lundy’s, Brooklyn’s Legendary Restaurant, Robert Cornfield, Harper Collins, New York, 1998, p. 85, illus. (portrait of F.W.I. Lundy)
Montclair Art Museum Bulletin, February 1969
New York Times Book Review, August 25, 1968, p. 5
Newark Star Ledger (numerous reviews of one-man and group exhibitions)
New Jersey Music & Arts, “A Triple Excellence”, vol. 32, no. 6, March 1977, pp. 18-19.
New Jersey Music & Arts, vol. 24, no. 7, March 1969, p. 13
New Jersey Music & Arts, vol. 18, no. 9, May 1963, pp. 15-16, 24.
New York City WPA Art, Then 1934-1943 and now 1960-1977, Parsons School of Design, New York, 1978, p 74, illus.
Our Town, Images and Stories from the Museum of the City of New York, Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY, 1997, p. 185, illus.
Documents and papers reside with the family and are being prepared for donation to the Smithsonian’s Archive of American Art.
Information provided by Peter Rohowsky, son of the artist.