WHEN Gary Rosenthal began his career as a sculptor in 1974, Shabbat candlesticks and menorahs were usually made of brass, silver or the predictable Israeli blue patina — and strictly functional. Same thing with mezuzzot and seder plates. A Havdalah set? What was that?
And Rosenthal himself was simply a budding sculptor with no particular bent to his work. He created sculptures that reflected hobbies, trophies and awards. His largest account at the time, though, was the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where the artist is based.
In the late 1970s, Rosenthal was showing his work in an art show at a Baltimore JCC when he noticed there wasn’t a single piece of Judaica for sale in the show. A patron liked his whimsical, contemporary use of materials like glass and metal in his sculptures, and asked, “Can you make me a menorah?”