Friday, March 9, 2007

A loss

I received this email today from Joan Almliah...

Hi Toby-
Thank you for featuring Gadi's work on your blog. I regret to inform you that Gadi died on January 8, 2007. His studio remains open.
Joan Almaliah

Though first and foremost an artist and creator, Gad was devoted to bringing people closer to the Jewish heritage, the Jewish religion, and the land of Israel – all by means of his art.” With those words, Rabbi Eli Libenson, a native of Boston, eulogized Gad Almaliah, internationally renowned graphic artist and creator of Judaica art objects, at his funeral in Israel in early January. Gad passed away in Boston on January 8, 2007, at the age of 62, after a brief struggle with cancer.

Almaliah’s works are found in thousands of homes, synagogues, JCCs, and Jewish organizations throughout Israel, North America, and around the world. He opened a studio in Dedham, MA, to house his workshop and to coordinate the many exhibits and Judaic art business he and his wife Joan had built since his arrival in 1992.

Born in Jerusalem in 1944 to Rivkah (Crespi) and Mordechai (an 8th generation Israeli), Gad served in the IDF (where he designed the emblem of the 6 Day War), graduated from Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Gadi was invited and sponsored by the Government of Mexico through the Israel Foreign Ministry as part of a cultural exchange program to study for an M.A. in communications at the Autonomous University of Mexico. While in Mexico, he produced and directed a film on Mexican murals and was awarded first place in two design competitions of stamps for the Mexican Postal Service. Gad taught design at the Wizo Canada School of Design in Haifa, Nova Scotia College of Design in Halifax, School of Visual Arts and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He spent several summers at Ramah camps in New England and Pennsylvania.

Gad established himself as a leading graphic artist in Israel, designing some of the best known posters, medallions, and postage stamps. Gadi served as president of the Graphic Designer's Association of Israel for fifteen years. He organized the International Congress of Visual Communication in Haifa in 1985.

Gad would typically search for inspiration from Jewish texts and concepts, including the stories and lessons of our great Biblical heroes-- men and women, a Talmud page, Jewish professions, and Tikun Olam (repairing the world). From his Massachusetts studio, The Design Lab, where he kept a mini-library of Jewish reference works, Almaliah created ketubot (marriage contracts), sculptures and prints, tzedakah boxes, hallah boards, and matzah trays, among many ritual objects to enhance the average person’s appreciation of Judaism.

He often claimed he could “see” the images of the words as he fashioned a new item based on a text he came across, and he saw himself as an emissary of the Jewish people, and as the emissary of the best in Israeli art. Combining his artistry in the design of Hebrew letters, illustrating the Israeli landscape, and his work with soft metals, Gad created a new look in artistic Ketubot, accommodating the diverse needs of the American Jewish community, where he felt he had been “reborn” as an artist and as a Jew. His popular work enabled him to return to his first artistic love – illustrating with picture and text the wisdom of the Jewish heritage. His last goal was to create “something that every Jew could have in his or her house that would capture the essence, the power, and the beauty of Judaism.” He did not live to fulfill his wish.

Gad Almaliah traveled extensively with both Israel and America as his “homes”, presenting his works in exhibits and designing objects for Jewish communities and institutions throughout the world. A devoted son, husband father and grandfather, he leaves his mother, Rivkah of Israel, his wife Joan (Mitchell) of Newton, his children, Yuval and Mazal Almaliah, of Israel, Daphna and Gabi Shriki, of Taiwan, his stepsons Andrew and Joshua Muncey, and his grandchildren, Yael, Nadav, and Yoav. He also leaves his artistic legacy in his catalog and studio

Ha-Makom yenahem etkhem b'tokh sha ar aveilei Tzion vYerushalayim
May the Omnipresent comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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