Jacob Glushakow, 86, acclaimed artist who captured scenes of life in Baltimore


Jacob Glushakow, a Baltimore artist who painted the everyday life of the city he loved, died Thursday of a respiratory ailment at Sinai Hospital. He was 86 and lived in Mount Washington, where he painted in a rustic barn-studio.

For more than 60 years, he sketched from life - outdoor market stalls, crates of chickens, broken doorways and tailors' shops in crumbling neighborhoods. Many of his paintings shared a theme: the loss of the old that goes on in a changing city.

"He was a Baltimore original who captured the essence of the city," said artist and writer Bennard B. Perlman. "Jacob was mild-mannered and soft-spoken. He was a good conversationalist who got his point across in soft vocal tones. His art also emphasized the soft tones."

The world that Mr. Glushakow captured in his pencils, pens and oil was often dilapidated, what a critic called "the melancholy peripheries of urban life." He painted these subjects, he said, because they appealed to him, because they were picturesque.

The people in his paintings were often drawn from the middle and lower classes.

"Glushakow's art was realist but also symbolic. He found nobility in the ordinary aspects of the city, and by extension in the ordinary life as well," said John Dorsey, former Sun art critic.

Colleagues said he painted in a careful, traditional style. He disliked shrill, modern trends in art. He typically exhibited his newest works once a year and was not concerned if they sold.

"He was a person who was as forthright as his paintings. He retained a realistic style throughout his life uninfluenced by the trends in modern painting," said Sidney Hollander, a retired opinion researcher who lives in North Baltimore. "He liked to portray the down-to-earth side of things."

His paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington.

The Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown mounted retrospective exhibitions on his work in the last 12 years.

When a reporter asked him in 1993 how he would characterize his paintings, he replied they were "emotion recollected in tranquility."

Many of his signature scenes are commonplace urban settings: a junkstore with its wares piled on the sidewalk; the corner of Gay and Orleans streets; a light dusting of snow on some rowhouses; a hanging scale atop a basket of turnip greens at a neighborhood market.

The oldest of 11 children, he was born on the steamship Brandenburg as it crossed the Atlantic from Bremen to Baltimore.

His parents left Ukraine days before the outbreak of World War I.

His father, Abraham David, was a clothing presser and candy maker who was also host of a Jewish-American radio program. His mother, born Esther Novikov, kept the family home.

Jacob Glushakow was raised in East Baltimore at Eden and Baltimore streets.

He received his education at City College, Maryland Institute, College of Art and the Art Students League in New York, where he studied from 1933 to 1936.

He made his living as an artist and art teacher.

He credited his visits to the fine arts department of the central Enoch Pratt Free Library with much of his art education.

Although many of his paintings captured the East Baltimore of the 1940s and 1950s, he also painted scenes at Druid Hill Park and in the nearby Reservoir Hill neighborhood, where he was drawn to Whitelock Street's stores for subjects to paint.

"I used to visit Mr. Gold's tailoring shop ... I liked the place - it was so chaotic-looking. It made Mr. Gold nervous for me to be in there. He seemed stunned that anyone would want to sketch the place. His reply was, 'It's not pretty in here. Go across the street to Mr. Shapiro's,'" he told a reporter in 1993.

For many years, he taught art at the Jewish Community Center.

In 1943, he married Eleanor Kemler, who died in 1972. He then wed the former Riva Novey, who survives him.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

He is also survived by a daughter, Jane Glushakow of Baltimore; three brothers, Nathan Glushakow of Randallstown, Moses Glushakow of Kent Island and Leonard Glushakow of Frederick; five sisters, Anne G. Cohen of Baltimore, Clara Kessler of Haddonfield, N.J., and Naomi Denenberg, Helen Glushakow and Mildred Glushakow, all of Radnor, Pa.

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