Step into the house of an eclectic artist. Carvings in wood and stone sit in every nook and cranny, paintings row upon row jump off the canvases- an array of colours and styles from scraffito to impressionism. A familiar voice fills the room, one you’ve heard before but can’t place. It is the voice of Aron Tager – sculptor, painter, poet – whose merits on stage and film are too numerous to fully account for, and whose voice acting skills have made him the familiar voice of cartoons and commercials.
Born at home in Brooklyn, New York 1934 at the height of the great depression, he was the first child born to a family that had already suffered four miscarriages. His mother would later proclaim at one of his art openings in New Jersey, “I had four. They all died. When he lived, I let him do what he wants.”
Drawing as soon as he could grip a pencil, he began sketching the objects around him. His parents nurtured his skills. Living in an apartment above the candy store his father ran, he would take Superman comics, overlay them with carbon paper and trace them. By fourth grade he was “doing murals while the other kids studied.” He never liked math but loved reading and writing. He began taking afternoon classes for drawing but was soon encouraged to join the adult evening classes.
For secondary school, his parents sent him to The School of Painting and Art which had been developed as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. He would spend his free time between the MOMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn museum, studying the Dutch and Flemish masters Goya and Chagall.
He also loved movies, catching the matinees of classic American films at the MOMA, as well as double bills of classic European and Russian movies at the local cinema. After high school, he began attending acting workshops. Inspired, he and his friends decided to strike out on their own and start a travelling theater company. It led him to Woodstock, New York, a burgeoning liberal hotspot even in the fifties, where he directed two seasons of Summer Theater.
Upon his return to New York, he continued to write and draw. Subsequently, he came across an exhibit of the work of Bernard Reder at the Whitney Museum. Moved by the works, he wrote a poem to Mr. Reder and received a warm response in return. The two met, and even today you can find the shadow of Reder in Aron’s sculpting.
After years of painting, sculpting, writing, acting, and traversing America, he wound up in Montreal, where he found an acting agent and met Ann Page, whom he would marry in 1991. His TV break out came with the series “Are you afraid of the Dark?” in which he had recurring rolls as a Carny and Doctor Vink. He moved to Toronto during the shooting of the series and has continued to find work, most notably as Mortie Fagen on the Showcase series Billable Hours.
His art is often displayed on walls in cafes around Leslieville and can be found online at www.arontager.com. On the first Tuesday of each month, he and his wife host the First Tuesday poets at Voulez-Vous café in the Beaches.
WORDS: ELI THOMSON
PHOTOS: ANDRIJA DIMITRIJEVIC