|Death Date: 1965
|Asa Cheffetz was born in Buffalo, New York, the family moved to New England when he was a young boy. Following his graduation from high school, Cheffetz entered the Boston Art Museum School, where he studied drawing from life. He then traveled to the Nation Academy of Design in New York City and again studied drawing and etching. He left after his first year to enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Upon his discharge, he returned to the National Academy for a second year of studies. Reluctantly between the years of 1919 to 1927 he ran his father’s movie theater business in Springfield, Massachusetts, but in the fall of 1927 he took a trip to Old Deerfield, Massachusetts and was inspired to return to print making.
He wrote at this time: “Sheltered in the embrace of gently rolling hills to the kindly New England countryside, the old town retains much of the flavor and atmosphere of its colonial past. As I wandered through its legendary scenes and quiet streets on that summer’s day I was enamored of its fine houses…I was seized by the urge to record an impression of their noble aspect, and the feeling came over me that only one medium was ideally suited to the purpose: the woodcut.
I began to cut wood feverishly; my first attempt was literally slashed out of sappy soft pine. As I recall it, the effect was somewhat weird. But in good time I acquired practice, a better knowledge of my materials, and some degree of restraint. The passion for the New England scene remains undiminished to this day. I have since continued to cut wood, and continue to be fascinated by the spell of my own countryside. By lifelong association and influence, I am a New Englander. And I am consciously sensitive to that influence in much that I have tried to express through the medium of my chosen craft”.
Cheffetz began to suffer eye problems in the 1950s and was no longer able to create the detailed work that had been his specialty. By 1954, he was forced to give up working in the wood-engraving medium completed. Nevertheless, in the 25 years he worked, Asa Cheffetz consistently produced beautiful and poetic images of the New England countryside.