Erena Rae, age 65, of Highland Park, N.J., died Friday, May 19 at home, of lung cancer,
Her husband of 44 years, Rutgers University Dean of the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies Gustav W. Friedrich, survives her. They met during their first year of college and married in 1962.
In addition to her husband, Gus; Rae is survived by her son, Bruce G. Friedrich; and daughter-in-law Alka Chandna; both of whom work for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Norfolk, Va.; a grandson, Kai Lucas Haskins of Ithaca, N.Y.; two brothers and their spouses, Bruce and Kay Bakeberg, Norwell, Mass., and Greg Bakeberg and Mary Pepin, Wayzata: two nieces, two nephews, and a grand-niece, all of Massachusetts; an aunt and uncle, Verna and Omar Glessing of Howard Lake; numerous cousins; and best girlfriends Ellen Jonsson, Elizabeth Beard Nelson, Maribeth Berg, and Anita Lee.
A native of Hopkins, Erena earned her BFA degree in drawing and printmaking from the University of Kansas and pursued a 30-year career in graphic design and commercial illustration while following her husband to Purdue University, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Oklahoma. Her commercial art garnered awards from professional magazines and organizations, and the Oklahoma Arts Council continues to use the calligraphic logo she created in the 1980s.
She was also instrumental in the highly praised redesign of Calligraphy Review Magazine, serving as the publication’s art director (and occasional writer/editor) from 1985-1992.
Rae retired from commercial art and returned to her drawing and printmaking roots in 1998, when her husband accepted his current position at Rutgers University. Her award-winning prints and mixed-media works focusing on feminism and social issues have appeared in publications and juried exhibitions throughout the United States, as well as in China, Russia, and India.
A mixed-media print which Rae created in response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was selected for inclusion in the book, “The Best of Printmaking - An International Collection;” and three of her works were included in Milton Glaser’s 2005 publication, “The Design of Dissent, Socially and Politically Driven Graphics.”
Erena especially enjoyed creating “mail art” to commemorate unusual “holidays” (e.g., Buy-Nothing Day, Chair Awareness Day, Discovery Day) and sending the letterpress postcards to her “AEPW list” a select group whom she deemed “artistic, eccentric, or potentially weird.” Her work is in numerous private collections, as well as in the permanent collection of the Ben Shahn Galleries at William Paterson University, the archives of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Wood Engravers Network archives of Princeton University,
Over the years, Rae served as a volunteer for numerous organizations: in her home churches in the Midwest, as an editor and graphic designer for various Plowshares activists, and for state and local chapters of the National Organization for Women; as a tutor for Laubauch Literacy lnternational, and in New Jersey, as a board member and exhibitions chair of the Printmaking Council of New Jersey, advisory council member for the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper, and program committee member for Friends of the Rutgers University Libraries.
Both Rae and Friedrich were avid collectors of contemporary art, focusing primarily on prints, paintings, hand-made books, and three-dimensional works by living artists.
Arrangements are by Selover Funeral Home, 555 Georges Road, North Brunswick, NJ.
Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch