In an old, unpretentious one-story brick former machine shop, Steven A. Rebeck, 80, is a practitioner of sculpturing, which, he laments, has become a lost art. Rebeck’s Art and Pattern Products Studio, in the rear at 2426 St. Clair Ave., is replete with his three-dimensional art and mementoes of the halcyon days of yesteryear when he was a frequent winner at May Shows.
The first sculptor graduate of the old Cleveland School of Art in 1912, he has earned a livelihood for years creating portrait plaques of Very Important People, cupids, gargoyles, statuary, rococo ornamentation, medallions and medals. Now he feels that in his lifelong career as a sculptor, trends and the inexorable march of time have passed him by.
“Today nobody is taught sculpturing,” said Rebeck. “They view my work as realism, and say the transition has been to cubism—the abstract form at the expense of other pictorial elements.”
Rebeck, 5-feet-4 and 155 pounds, with sparse white hair, a son of Slovenian immigrant parents, won two May Show first prizes for busts of his infant son, and of Charles D. Dawe, late conductor of the Orpheus Male Chorus, and a friend. He took a second prize for a portrait study.
Examples of Rebeck’s artistry are displayed across the country. He is listed in “Who’s Who in Art.” His statue of Shakespeare stands in the Shakespearean Cultural Gardens. His religious statuary includes the 14 stations of the cross in several Catholic churches.
“I am particularly proud of my life-size Madonna and Child at St. Francis of Assisi Church at Mayfield and SOM Center Rds., and the fine-foot bronze of Lincoln at the War Memorial in Alliance, O,” Rebeck said.
“That memorial also includes a Spanish- American War Veteran and a World War II doughboy. Atop a Masonic Temple in St. Louis is my sphinx—12 feet high and 20 feet long. My statuary also is in parks, gardens and public buildings.”
Rebeck, a non-conformist of great individuality and humility, sculpted a life-size statue of Pan for the J.E. Farris garden, and a life-size boy in bronze for the fountain of the John Newell garden in Mentor. He has made medallions of the late Archbishop Edward F. Hoban, a collector’s coin of William H. Seward, secretary of state in President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, and a medal for the Votteler organ.
His portrait plaques include President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mayor Stokes, former Judge Stanton Addams of East Cleveland, Ernie Pyle, famed war correspondent and Cole Porter, composer of musical comedies.
Rebeck works from photographs. He models in clay, makes a plaster mold and a plaster cast and sends a wax copy to the Architectural Arts Foundry for casting in bronze. The bulldog symbols for the Mack Truck were made by Rebeck.
Rebeck, vigorous and industrious, drives his own car. In his youth, he was a champion amateur wrestler at 120 pounds. He attended old Brownell School before entering art school. His hobby now is bowling. A widower, he lives at 1028 Roanoke Rd., Cleveland Heights. He is the father of three sons, and has 10 grandchildren.