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Posts Tagged ‘Kalman Aron’


Photo: Saul Gonzalez/PRI
Kalman Aron began sketching when he was 3 years old and had his first show at 7. Still working at 93, he said if he didn’t paint and draw every day, life would be too boring.

Links to some of the stories that I aim to blog about get squirreled away weeks in advance, and now I’m wishing I used this one in February before a certain artist died. Kalman Aron was 93 and was making art every day.

I heard about Aron from Saul Gonzalez at Public Radio International’s The World.

“When you step inside artist Kalman Aron’s modest apartment in Beverly Hills, a lifetime of creation surrounds you. The walls are covered in paintings and finished canvases are stacked on the floors, a dozen deep. The paintings range from portraits to landscapes to abstract works. They’re just a fraction of the roughly 2,000 pieces Aron says he’s created over the decades.

“Born in Riga, Latvia, in 1924, Aron started sketching when he was 3. At age 13, he won a competition to paint a portrait of the country’s prime minister. But then came the start of World War II; Germany invaded Latvia in 1941. … He was imprisoned in seven concentration and labor camps over the course of four years, not knowing if he’d be alive the next day.

“But Aron was able to survive when German soldiers discovered his skills as an artist. Camp guards and officers asked Aron to make small portraits of family members in exchange for scraps of bread. …

“After the war ended, Aron lived in a displaced persons camp in Austria and received a scholarship to attend Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts.

“In 1949, with only $4 in his pocket, Aron immigrated to the United States with his first wife, settling in Los Angeles. After a stint painting pottery in a factory, Aron started getting work by painting portraits for the city’s wealthy, like the family of Susan Beilby Magee. …

“Magee says you can trace how Aron came to grips with the trauma of his wartime experiences by studying how his work changed over the decades in Los Angeles.

“ ‘At the beginning of his time in LA in the ’50s, [the paintings] are all gray,’ Magee says. “There is no sunlight or people, there is nothing. That was his interior landscape when he arrived. Thirty years later he paints the Hollywood Hills and they are beautiful, full of color.’ …

“Aron says his art has saved him more than once — first, during the Holocaust, and now that he’s 93, it’s kept him from something many people his age struggle with.

“ ‘Dying of boredom,’ Aron says. ‘I’m still talking. I’m still working. They die of boredom.’ ”

The story I heard at PRI is here. And this obit appeared in the Washington Post.

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