Memorial service at MOCA for artist Seth Rosenberg, 57

September 5, 2009

From a special to The Plain Dealer

by Dan Tranberg / Special to The Plain Dealer
Friday September 04, 2009, 2:48 PM

Seth Rosenberg, a greatly admired Cleveland painter who, earlier this summer, was awarded a $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship through Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, died Tuesday, Sept. 1 of a heart attack. He was 57.

Rosenberg moved to Cleveland in 2005 from Washington, D.C., where, for more than 20 years, he owned and operated District Fine Arts, a framing business and art gallery.

In recent years, he and his wife, Jane, had become highly active patrons of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, where a memorial service will be held Sunday, Sept. 6.

“My heart is incredibly heavy with sadness,” said Jill Snyder, executive director of MOCA Cleveland. “Seth was perhaps the most generous artist I have ever known. He was just the most lovable person on earth.”

In the few years since he first got involved with the contemporary museum, Rosenberg became known for his passion and enthusiasm for the MOCA community. He even hosted museum events at his spacious painting studio in downtown Cleveland.

Rosenberg’s paintings, two of which will be on display Sunday at MOCA, drew upon the tradition of American Social Realists of the 1930s, whose heroic visions of working-class American life helped to galvanize public awareness of social and racial injustice.

“Seth believed intensely in social justice,” Snyder said. “He was a real humanist.”

Snyder said that Rosenberg and his wife were both deeply committed to the Democratic Party. Snyder believes that Rosenberg’s idealism was at the root of his art.

“He was earnest to the core,” Snyder said.

Rosenberg is survived by his wife, Jane, and son, Eli, of Rocky River; and his 91-year-old father, Bernie Rosenberg.

The memorial will be at 11:30 a.m. Sunday (with a luncheon reception to follow) at MOCA Cleveland, 8501 Carnegie Ave. The event is free. Call 216-421-8671 or go to

Tranberg is an artist and writer living in Cleveland.

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