Peter Gray Cohen, 88 of Stroudsburg, PA; Santa Barbara, CA; and New York, NY passed away on September 7, 2014. Peter was many things: artist, veteran of WWII, father, step father, son, husband, candidate for US Congress, and fierce advocate for the environment, individual liberties and peace. He lived a full life.
He was the son of novelist and screenwriter Lester Cohen and actress and author Eden Gray. He attended the School of Art Institute in Chicago and The University of Chicago before serving in the Army, in the radio corps in WWII, where he was deployed in both the Philippines and occupied Japan. He studied mural painting in Mexico City with students of Diego Rivera and then moved to India in the late 1940s where he painted murals.
The bulk of the 1950s and early 1960s were spent painting canvases and murals, mostly in New York City but also across the country. His painting style changed as he wrestled with how to express what was important to him. During the early 1950s his desire to show how America marshaled her industrial might to win the war was reflected in paintings of steel mills, oil derricks, and railroads. As he became more interested in social justice, his work became more symbolic and abstracted. After he moved to Stroudsburg in the mid-1960s, he began to paint large canvases capturing the moment of conception in sub-cellular landscapes that show the fragile miracle of life and the threats posed to life by environmental degradation. An internet gallery of his work can be viewed at www.petergcohen.com.
Politics were always important in Peter’s life. He proposed a Freedom Pavilion for the New York World’s Fair of 1963. He co-founded LEPOCO, a Lehigh Valley peace organization that is still very active. In 1968, he ran for US Congress on an independent ticket to end the war in Viet Nam. He was Executive Director of the New Democratic Coalition in Philadelphia. These are but a few of the many roles Peter played in his quest to make the world a safer place for us all. In 1999 he moved to Santa Barbara CA, retired from painting and focused his creative powers on writing editorials on climate change, nuclear disarmament, preservation of the Bill of Rights, and other causes dear to his heart. If you Google “Peter G Cohen” you will find a very long list of his articles.
Peter’s personal life was colorful: 5 wives, 2 sons, 3 step daughters, grandchildren, an assortment of extended family members, and many, many friends. He was loved and he will be sorely missed.
A memorial service is planned for the weekend following Thanksgiving at his home in Snydersville.