Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick
Abraham Rogatnick graduated in 1952 from Harvard with two degrees, studying under Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School.
Abraham’s studies were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war he lived in Europe where he developed a deep love for Venice. He learned Italian and was a beloved member of the cultural community of Venice, connecting with Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, Ezra Pound, Giuseppe Mazariol and others.
In 1955, he and lifelong partner Alvin Balkind were invited to visit Vancouver by Harvard classmate, architect Geoffrey Massey, where they were hosted by Arthur Erickson. They fell in love with Vancouver and became pillars of the artistic community. They opened Canada’s first commercial modern art gallery and helped cofound the Arts Club Review, introducing avant-garde artistic works to Vancouver. One legacy of this effort is the Arts Club Theatre.
Abraham’s most profound contribution to Vancouver was as UBC Architecture Professor, from 1958 to 1985. Students include internationally noted architects such as Bruno Freschi, Bing Thom, Peter Busby and Paul Merrick. He founded the Studies Abroad program sending students from Vancouver to study in great cities of the world. He received the 1975 Master Teacher Award and the 2008 Honourary Alumnus Award.
He was architectural advisor for Canada’s National Gallery in Ottawa, the director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. After retiring from UBC, he began a new career as an actor in movies and plays and also created set designs.
Born 27 November 1923, Boston. Died 28 August 2009, Vancouver. Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick leaves behind arts organizations he liberally supported, numerous students he taught and inspired, and a city whose course was changed by his deep love and passion for it.
In 1992 Alvin died and Abraham remained devoted to his memory.
Alvin Balkind was a seminal force within the Vancouver art scene since arriving in 1955. Along with Abraham Rogatnick, he co-founded the New Design Gallery, which led the way in showing advanced British Columbian — and Canadian — art.
His influence was clearly felt when he was the curator of the Fine Arts Gallery with the University of British Columbia from 1962-73. He mounted innovative exhibitions such as BAGGED PLACE (N.E. Thing Co.); CHAIRS; ART BECOMES REALITY (the first American Pop Art show in Canada); JAPANESE CULINARY POP and WHOLE MESSAGE HOLOGRAPHY (the first holography show in Vancouver). Balkin was a major contributor to the Festival of Contemporary Arts at UBC and an instructor in art gallery training; he also visited artists in their studios - encouraging young artists to push their ideas to the limit. By the ’60s and early ’70s, his “underground” gallery provided a brilliant focus in Vancouver art, sending ripples of interest and excitement across Canada and down the Coast.
His subsequent career took him to Toronto, where Balkind served as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario from 1973 to 1975, and then back to the West Coast where he became Chief Curator of the Vancouver Art Gallery from 1975-78. He was the Head of the Visual Art Studio at the Banff School of Fine Arts from 1985-1987.
Beneath his characteristic panache, Balkin was committed to the fresh and original, playing a vital role in creating a climate open to new art and sympathetic to venturesome artists.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Balkind was a model Canadian citizen since 1969. He studied at the John Hopkins University, Baltimore and the Sorbonne, Paris. He is the author of numerous essays and articles published in catalogues, magazines and books.