Fonds UBCA-ARC-1435 - Abraham Rogatnick fonds

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Abraham Rogatnick fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Photographic material

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1.14 m of textual records.
21 photographs : b&w and colour prints ; various sizes.
1 box of index cards.

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Biographical history

Abraham Jedidiah Rogatnick was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 27, 1923. He served in Europe with the United States Army during the Second World War and fought at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. After the war ended in 1945, Rogatnick was discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant. In 1948, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology cum laude from Harvard College. Having been awarded a Fulbright scholarship, Rogatnick studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard Graduate School of Design and obtained his Master of Architecture degree in 1953. Emigrating to Vancouver, Canada, in 1955, Rogatnick subsequently became a naturalized Canadian citizen. Rogatnick began his professional career working as a designer for architect James Lawrence in Boston from 1952 to 1954.
After his move to Vancouver, Rogatnick worked as an architect for Gardiner, Thornton, Gathe and Associates from 1955 to 1959. During this period, he assisted in founding Vancouver's New Design Gallery with his friend, future Vancouver Art Gallery Curator Alvin Balkind. This institution had a profound influence on the arts in Western Canada as the city's first gallery devoted solely to contemporary art. Rogatnick remained on the Board of Directors of the New Design Gallery until 1966. He also worked as an exclusive advisor and consultant to various Canadian arts organizations, including the Canada Council, the City of Vancouver's Design Panel and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. He also served as Director of the National Gallery of Canada's Architectural Construction Programme. At the same time, that institution planned its new Ottawa premises during the early 1970s. In 1959, Rogatnick began his academic career as an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Architecture, teaching design and Architectural History. He was made an Associate Professor in 1964 and a Full Professor in 1968. With the resignation of Vancouver Art Gallery Director Anthony Emery in 1974, Rogatnick was appointed Interim Director by the Board of Trustees until a full-time replacement could be found. His tenure at the gallery coincided with a one-year leave of absence from his duties at UBC. Rogatnick had first become associated with the gallery's administration as a member of the Exhibition Committee in 1962. From 1962 to 1965, he was a member of the Executive Council and served as its Vice-President from 1964 to 1965. Rogatnick held the position of Interim-Director from August of 1974 to August of 1975 when Luke Rombout succeeded him. Rogatnick was responsible for providing conceptual leadership to all areas of the Vancouver Art Gallery during his tenure as Interim Director. His specific responsibilities included policy-making, funding and fund-raising, as well as exhibition planning and organizing. All staffing decisions and the supervision of all staff activities were the ultimate responsibility of the Interim Director. Rogatnick also ensured that the gallery adhered to the professionally accepted acquisition, preservation, research, interpretation, and exhibition practices.
Returning to his duties at the School of Architecture in September 1975, Rogatnick remained at the UBC until his retirement in 1985. Afterwards, he served as a consultant for various local arts and architecture endeavours, including Concord Pacific's public art program in 1991. Rogatnick also continued to act as a benefactor of the Emily Carr Institute and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. In his retirement, Rogatnick pursued a second career in drama and the performing arts. He took up acting in 1998 and appeared in a 2001 Vancouver Playhouse production of Fiddler on the Roof. In 2000, the Western Front Society staged a dance performance he conceived entitled Descent to the Underworld. In addition, Rogatnick served as an informal advisor to the mayoral campaign of Sam Sullivan during the 2005 Vancouver civic election. His support for discretionary density urban planning and supervised injection sites and his opposition to a ward-based municipal system in the city influenced Sullivan's policies as Mayor of Vancouver. He is also memorialized with the Abraham Rogatnick Library at the Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery, named after him for his work on the Board of Directors and his gift to the institution. Rogatnick died on August 28, 2009, at the age of 85.

Custodial history

Some of the materials were initially transferred to the Belkin Art Gallery at UBC by Scott Watson, a close friend of Rogatnick – the Belkin, in turn, transferred them to the University Archives early in 2010. The remainder was donated directly to the Archives by the executor of Rogatnick’s estate.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of materials that document the personal and professional activities of Abraham Rogatnick and includes handwritten notes and notebooks on historical and architectural subjects, index cards, typewritten speeches, writings, correspondence, and photographs. There are four series: Notes and Architectural Sketches, Photographs, Notebooks and Binders, and Personal Materials and Writing.

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Some photographs have been digitized and are available through UBC Library Open Collections series UBC 147.1/.

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