Harry Glaubach (1925-2017) was a one-of-a-kind folk artist, New York through and through.
Growing up as a child of the Depression, Harry Glaubach began carving the houses and buildings of his Lower East Side neighborhood. The second of four children of a German immigrant cabinetmaker, Harry’s family was too poor to afford store-bought toys, so he fashioned his own out of wood. He continued this hobby, turning it into a 40+ year career as a self-taught artist. Harry’s world-famous wood sculptures focus on New York City icons like Katz’s Deli, Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field, Abbott & Costello, Marilyn Monroe, the Marx Brothers, Coney Island, and most frequently, the Lower East Side.
The work is nostalgic, harking always to a more simple past.
“Nobody was jealous of anyone else because no one had nothing,” Harry says. “Life was slower then, and you enjoyed it. Even funerals weren’t in the rush they are today.” The past, he believed, was beautiful.
When he was 16, Harry began drawing movie posters for Loews Theaters, before being hired by Paramount Theater drawing black and white posters of such stars such as Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff. He also completed stage front sets for Broadway productions, too. At the same time he created his own art and watched greats like Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock at work.
When creating his signature scenes, like those of the Lower East Side, Harry started by drawing the image, at times from old photographs, but much more frequently by making visits to each of the sites.
“But I don’t use stencils,” he insists stoutly. “Each work is outlined individually, and each is one of a kind.”
Harry created thousands of pieces over the years, including works commissioned by famous actors and athetes like James Cagney and Darryl Strawberry, in addition to all those who purchased his work at art fairs and markets around New York, most notably on weekends in Union Square and at the perennial art fair at Washington Square
He told the Daily News, that “[s]culpting in wood is a tonic for me. It’s soothing and relaxing. And it keeps me in good shape.”
Harry lived to be 92 years old. He also loved pickles.
Today his work can be found in homes and galleries around the world, each with its own story of how the owner discovered Harry and his work.
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© 2019 Harry Glaubach. All rights reserved.