Harold Cohen, who as dean from 1974-1984 nearly doubled the school’s faculty and established its philanthropic base by forming the Friends of the School of Architecture and Planning, has spent the past 15 years launching a second career as an artist. Now 90, Cohen works from his studio in downtown Buffalo experimenting with material and techniques to create prints, paintings, woodcuts and sculptures.
Reflecting his training in the Bauhaus tradition of art and design at Chicago’s Institute of Design, Cohen’s work also draws from his Jewish faith and life experiences that range from the murder of his extended family during the Holocaust to traveling through South America with his wife, Mary, to collect insects. The recent exhibition of Cohen’s work at Buffalo’s Manuel Barreto Gallery included a pair of prints with haunting, ghostly images of burning bodies in the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Stutthof. His “Blood Brothers” woodcut of a swastika, hammer and sickle is a statement against authoritarian government. Others are more abstract, such as “In Space,” an intaglio print that was recently selected to appear in “Art Olympia,” a prestigious international exhibition in Tokyo.
Bruno Freschi, an internationally known Canadian architect who held the school’s deanship from 1988-2000, saw 50 years of his conceptual drawings and paintings exhibited in Vancouver’s Waterfall Gallery in June. Entitled “Flesh and Flags,” the exhibition reveals Freschi’s fascination with science and religion and his questioning of space, form and urbanism. He is renowned as the award-winning chief architect of Expo ‘86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, a waterfront development that changed the face of Vancouver. He also holds the Order of Canada, that nation’s highest civilian award, and is a fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
During his tenure as dean, Freschi, who says his vision was to “assist the school in its growth and development into a nationally recognized design school,” launched the Will and Nan Clarkson Visiting Chair fellowship and established Intersight, the school’s journal of student work. Active in the community – and drawn to UB by Buffalo’s architectural legacies – he helped establish the organizational and philanthropic base that led to the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House. He also helped Buffalo re-envision its waterfront in the 1990s and proposed one of several alternative designs for the controversial redevelopment and expansion of the Peace Bridge connecting Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario.