Howard Alber of Haverford, an acclaimed artist and educator, who hobnobbed with some of the biggest names in 20th-century art and whose love of life was reflected somewhat in the fact that he had married four times, died Oct. 17 at the age of 101.
He also served as mentor to many artists, drawn to his optimistic spirit and love of what he did for a living, a calling since he was a child.
The artist born Howard Albert Rosenstein was a 1933 graduate of what is now known as the University of the Arts. After serving in the Marines during World War II, Alber started a decades-long career as a graphic designer, becoming the found-ing art head of Weightman Advertising.
His involvement in the local art movement included roles as founding member of the Artists Guild of Delaware Valley and as an adviser to the Graphic Arts Association.
He also has been credited as the guiding force behind the Rittenhouse Show — getting it rolling while still a teen — and as one of a group in the Mount Airy neighborhood who established the legendary Allens Lane Art Center.
His Alber Galleries, a Center City spot, begun some 45 years ago, was a boutique-like attraction that exhibited such local artists as Howard Watson, watercolorist/illustrator.
Alber’s quest for peace was known throughout and beyond the arts community. In a story about him that appeared in the Delaware County Newspaper Magazine two years ago, the writer talked of Alber as a “crusader”: “While many claim to want peace in this world, Howard Alber has been a crusader all his life. Alber, who has worked tirelessly for many causes … made his first formal contribution to the world by designing and donating a peace poster to the National Women’s League at the age of 7.
“The poster was used for a national campaign for ‘Peace and Freedom’.”
In later years, Alber, a longtime member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, was an ardent activist, advocating on behalf of the Non-Violent Peace Force Organization.
He was a much in-demand consultant for his respected talent in graphics; indeed, during the late ’70s, he consulted for the Jewish Exponent. He also created the sculpted prototype for what would become a major award handed out by what was then the Robert Morris Association, a national banking association headquartered in Philadelphia, now known as the Risk Management Association.
The artist was pre-deceased by wives Estelle Feldman Alber, Elaine Nagler Alber and Carolyn Fiedler Alber, the latter with whom he shares the title of a gallery dedicated in their honor at the Allens Lane Art Center. He also was pre-deceased by brothers George M. Rosenstein and Louis C. Rosenstein.
He is survived by two step-daughters, Jane Nagler Rich and Susan Nagler Perloff; and four grandsons.
A celebration of the man and his work is scheduled Nov. 3, reflected by a four-hour exhibit of Alber’s art, beginning at 3 p.m., and then a reception, starting at 5 p.m., at the Carolyn & Howard Alber Gallery, Allens Lane Art Center, 601 W. Allens Lane, Philadelphia.