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Monday, April 24, 2006

Morris Yarowsky, second post

Morris Yarowsky
Yesterday I mentioned to a friend that Morris Yarowsky had passed away, not knowing if they even had any relationship, and it turned out that this friend had helped Morris pack up and move his studio from Fulton Hill to Baltimore. He wasn't aware Morris had died.

Getting home tonight I find that a friend of Morris has sent the following e-mail -

"I saw your notes about Professor Yarowsky on your blog. I was Morris' good friend and I was very heartened to see the kind words of his former students. I have sent the comments from your blog to his wife and son. I would be very interested to know of any memorial efforts and if you need any assistance re any memorial material please let me know. I have attached the obituary which appeared in the Washington Post this week."

Dennis shared (in the previous post's comments) that VCU/PAPR is preparing a book with drawings and memories and photos. Materials can be dropped off to Richard Roth at his office, or email rroth@vcu.edu for more info.

Below is Morris' Washington Post obituary, followed by the comments from the previous post. Please feel free to leave further comments, the will probably be forwarded to his family.

Obituaries, Tuesday, April 18, 2006; Page B07, Morris Yarowsky, Artist, Professor -

"Morris Yarowsky, 73, an artist and art professor, died of pancreatic cancer March 20 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson, Md. He lived in Towson.

Mr. Yarowsky taught painting, art theory and criticism at numerous schools, including Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond for the past 35 years, commuting there from his homes in Montgomery and Howard counties.

His work was shown in galleries and museums in the United States and Israel. An abstract impressionist, he borrowed images from popular culture to create a signature style. During a 1984 show at the old Anton Gallery, Washington Post critic Paul Richard said, "Yarowsky, who was painting in San Francisco in the 1950s, borrows without shame from Popeye and Picasso, from Gorky and Guston, but his paintings are protected by their subtle, knowing wryness."

He was born in Pottsville, Pa., and graduated from Dartmouth University. He received a master's degree in philosophy from Columbia University, then moved to the West Coast, where he received a master's degree in fine arts from what is now the California College of Arts in Oakland, Calif., in 1959. Mr. Yarowsky began teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute and became its dean.

In 1970, he moved east and began teaching at VCU, from which he retired in 2005.

An amateur musician since boyhood, Mr. Yarowsky played viola in string quartets and the Richmond Community Orchestra.

His first marriage, to Harriet Yarowsky, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Pei Feng, of Towson; a son from his first marriage, Max Yarowsky of New York; two stepsons, Steve Wang and Mike Wang, both of Los Angeles; and three sisters."

Comments from the previous post -

Dennis Matthews said...
hey martin, i received an email from Roth about last week, it was actually about 3 weeks ago. Very sad, he will be missed most definitely. He went pretty quickly from what I hear, he had been sick for a little while. Let people know that they are preparing a book with drawings and memories and photos. The stuff can be dropped off to Roth at his office or they can email rroth@vcu.edu for more info. Dennis

w said...
Sorry to hear this - I enjoyed his painting and criticism classes. I liked his work too...

martin said...
i enjoyed his class also. he was very open-minded and supportive.

tmmartin said...
Very sad to hear this news. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...
Once he said "Painting is like the piano," meaning it's limited, but vast. I hope he said this to lots of people.

vgriswold said...
I am sorry to hear about Prof. Yarowsky's passing. His criticism courses profoundly affected my attitudes and approach to making and viewing art. He was a great teacher.

14 comments:

Michael said...

When I think of Morris, I immediately remember his critiques, which were some of the more interesting crits of my VCU experience. At first I thought that he was being overly permissive and simply patting backs. Much to my surprise, hours passed as we, the students, were painlessly coaxed into new explorations and considerations. Those conversations were a great pleasure, and I am thankful that I had the privilege to take part in them.
Though I was only one of the multitude, Morris was always willing to offer up a kind word of encouragement or a challenging bit of insight... and then he would go back to his palm pilot, and I would bound down the crowded hall and back to painting.

Anonymous said...

YES! he was eternally on his palm pilot.. always found that funny..

martin said...

that's true, he was ALWAYS writing down everything on that thing, but he still couldn't keep an appointment - it was very funny.

w said...

I knew him pre-palm pilot back in the early 90s - back then he always had a newspaper...

I agree Michael, he had a quiet way of showing us students some direction on our paths. His painting class came at a good time for me and I'm thankful for his amused guidance.

His criticism class was good too - never making us feel stupid or dumb. He just wanted to explore and talk about things.

Finally, I really remember him (along with Mr. Kevorkian) wearing his white lab coat in painting class (it was hard for me to recognize him with out it). I started thinking of him as some kind of scientist, an art scientist.

- Warren Craghead

Anonymous said...

I took several classes with Morris in the early-mid 90s ( pre-palm pilot) and he was also a professor of mine for independent study/painting. I learned so much from his criticism classes, as well as his painting critiques of my work. At the time I was not able to assimilate all that he said- but was quite amused a couple of years after completing my studies at VCU, while painting in my studio, his words were the ones that popped in my head most often.Thet were usually the words that stung a bit at the time I originally heard them(after many words of encouragement right before the sting!) They came to me at the exact right times to help me push through a painting dilemma. He will be missed- but his art and advice lives on.

Beth Beaven

Rebecca Yarowsky said...

Missing from Morris's Washington Post obituary are two significant facts: that he is survived by his second wife (with whom he lived for nearly 12 years), Rebecca -- the daughter of his close friend, the Bay Area figurative painter James Weeks (1922-1998)-- and a stepdaughter, Molly Caitlin Flynn, currently residing in Brooklyn, NY.

Marilyn Kirsch said...

Morris Yarowsky was my painting professor years ago, in 1969. This evening I was just surfing around and discovered the sad fact that he had passed away.

He was a wonderful teacher and certainly the sharpest and most interesting painting teacher I ever had. After the first critique, I knew he was special and I decided to really listen to what he had to say. He taught me a great deal.

martin said...

peter reginato sent an e-mail he said i could post here -

"I just noticed your post on Morris Yarowsky.

I went to school at the SFAI in 63-66 and had Morris for a teacher but also got very friendly with him and used to hang out a bit together. I think? when he moved he gave me this great old round wood table that I later gave to my mom who had it restored but what I mainly remember is his paintings of light bulbs in a very black background with silver spray paint around the bulbs ..great stuff..."

- Peter Reginato

Martin said...

i am back re-reading this post 5/10/07, because someone googled morris, and i almost couldn't remember who the friend i start out talking about is... so i need to put his name here or i will forget completely.

jeremy parker.

Thornsoaper said...

I was in that same pre-palm pilot class that Beth Beaven was in. I was going thru a rough personal patch at the time and Mr. Yarowsky's class was a port in the storm. I still have and appreciate paintings I did in that class, as opposed to most of my other student work.

Anonymous said...

I was an old old friend of Morris'. We had a weekly radio show "Eat with Morris" in Eugene when he taught at the University of Oregon. He had an Art of Destruction derby, a Diseases of the Mouth show, plus The Chrome Heart Chamber, a theater piece that took place on twelve beds. He played the violin at parties, was always seen reading Artforum and The New York Times, gave students credit for things like teaching him to play pool and I got advanced credit for the radio show. He got students to stop painting flowers and throw away their tiny brushes. He also inspired us to read art criticism and value popular culture. I felt he was my best friend ever and kept in touch with him over the years. I even sent him one of his old workshirts covered with paint just before he got married the last time and a copy of Diseases of the Mouth that I had just found. I really miss him.
Valerie

Peter Craycroft said...

Morris,
Bless the late 60's and early 70'. Back then you were a wild and unpredictable character. I loved that about you. Your brilliance illuminated the space around you and you were rare, powerful and inspiring. You insisted that I bury a crate of your paintings from the San Francisco days. I did not. The paint is still wet.
Peter

Anonymous said...

Sad news about Morris. He was our painting seminar Prof from 1982 until we graduated in 1984 with the MFA. He certainly challenged us to think critically. Logical Positivism for the philosophical base with Clement Greenberg & Harold Rosenberg for the painting critiques. He loved the NY Times and we drank a few beers during the seminars. He had a kindness too. We did frustrate him with our lack of back stabbing each other - he wanted drama. It was a good experience and I grew as an artist because of Morris.

Nancy said...

This post is way out of time... I am really sad to see this news! Of all the professors I had at the U of O, Morris Yarowsky was the one I remember. Like others here, I remember the open discussions and critiques that came several times a semester. They were life changing in their scope for me. I will always carry with me those discussions and the kindly way Morris encouraged each of us in our art.