Steven Augustus Rebeck (1891- 1975)
Steven Augustus Rebeck, sculptor and medalist, was born May 19, 1891 in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents, Andrew (birthname Andro) (1861-1922) and Elizabetha (Loboda) Hrebik (1862-1902) were married February 15, 1886 in the village of their ancestors, Jakubjany, Slovakia.
Near downtown Cleveland, Andrew worked as a foundry laborer and lived with their 5 children approximately one block east of the Cuyahoga River.
Steven's mother died in 1902 when he was 11 and, with details lost to time, was eventually supervised by the Cleveland Juvenile Court and spent much of 1903-1906 at the Cleveland Boys Home in Hudson, OH. By 1906 he lived at the Brotherhood House, 440 Summit St., a Cleveland shelter for Slovenians and Hungarians supported by wealthy patrons. Beginning in 1908, this organization paid tuition for his duration of education at the Cleveland School of Art. Steven studied sculpturing under Herman N. Matzen and graduated in 1912 as the first sculptor of the School. He then traveled to New York where he became a protégé of Karl Bitter.
When Mr. Bitter died in 1915, Steven returned to Cleveland and opened a studio in partnership with his sculptor friend Joseph C. Motto, “Motto-Rebeck, Sculptors Studio ” East 118th Street and Euclid Ave. Their practice quickly expanded through private commissions and notably the modeling of a bust of Shakespeare for Cleveland's Cultural Gardens.
The studio closed as both Rebeck and Motto enlisted in WWI. Rebeck served August 1917-Feburary 1919 with the 97th Aero Service Squadron Signal Corps and in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe as an expert mechanic, Sergeant, first class, then Corporal. He flew over the German lines several times but without injury.
While on leave in Liverpool, England, Steven met his first wife Jane (aka Jennie) Jones of Caernarfon, Wales. There are several accounts in the New York Times and Cleveland newspapers of how they met. She described being strangled by a drunken "thug" in a dark alley in Liverpool when Steven heard her screams and rescued her. He had to leave for France the next day, but saw her two times after that and they corresponded after the war. About two years after that first meeting, she came to America to marry, arriving on the White Star Liner Cedric on February 29, 1920 and they were married March 1, 1920 by Rev. John F. Moore at Madison Ave Baptist Church, NYC.
After the war, Steven returned to Cleveland to open Decorative Arts Co. in partnership with Joseph Motto and Max Kalish at 10017 Euclid Ave. It was during this period Rebeck received his first notable commission—the design of an award medal of the Art Association of Cleveland, sponsored by John A. Penton which became the first-prize award in different artistic categories in an annual May Show exhibition from 1919-1922. The known collection of Steven Rebeck's work is in chronological order under the Works section of this site.
Steven, although 5' 4” and 155 lbs. as an adult, was an accomplished 120 lb. wrestler in this upper teens, enjoyed local YMCA's and into his 80's was an avid bowler. Blue eyed and practical, he was an outgoing man, enjoyed students visiting his shop to observe and had a greater passion for art than gain. His style was classical—he didn't appreciate the abstract or cubism of his era—and his work was known for a sensitive depiction of realism.
Structural Survey Collection, Cleveland State University Archives
Sometime in the 1940's, Steven became a sole proprietor, converting a used mechanic shop into Art and Pattern Products Co., 2426 St. Clair Avenue. Using clay and plaster mediums, he focused on medals and plaques of V.I.P's and commissioned works. Late in life he worked out of his home.
Steven and Jane raised three boys.
Jane passed in 1933 at age 35. Steven remarried in 1935 to Grace Kearney. Steven Rebeck passed September 18, 1975 at the age of 84 and is buried at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland Ohio with Jane and Grace nearby.
He will be remembered, however, as one of Cleveland's most distinguished sculptors.
Additional information and photographs are posted under the "Clippings" tab.