Ascalon was born in Tel Aviv, in the British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel) on March 8, 1945. He received his early artistic training as an apprentice of his father, the Hungarian-born sculptor and industrial designer, Maurice Ascalon (1913–2003).
Ascalon came to the United States as a teenager when his father took the family across the Atlantic as a means to broaden their horizons. He attended Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills, California and graduated in 1963. David studied art and design at the California State University at Northridge as well as architecture and interior design at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, and Pratt Institute in New York, where he received his degree. Throughout the 1970s, Ascalon worked in the fields of interior design and architecture in New York, and for the firm of the noted Israeli architect Arieh Elhanani in Tel Aviv. Seeking a more immediate means of artistic expression than the architectural arts would allow, he began experimenting in sculptural metalwork, exploring abstract compositions with a welding torch. He currently resides in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and in the Hamptons on the east end of Long Island, New York. In recent years, Ascalon has taken an active role on issues of artist rights advocacy, and in 2010 filed a federal suit under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) in a case involving the rights of artist with respect to the restoration of public sculpture. Among David's other relatives are his son, contemporary industrial designer Brad Ascalon, and older brother Adir Ascalon (d.2003). Adir was a surrealist painter and sculptor who collaborated with the noted Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. David is also a licensed airplane private pilot.
In 1977, David relocated to the Philadelphia area where he joined up with his father to form Ascalon Studios. It was then that he began focusing his efforts on the creation of site-specific artwork for worship and public spaces. Much of his work draws on ecclesiastical themes, however utilizing non-traditional approaches and contemporary forms. In the years since its founding, Ascalon Studios, under David’s direction, has executed hundreds of projects throughout North America, ranging from monumental sculptures and liturgical stained glass windows, to mosaic murals. Many of his works adorn synagogue architecture and other venues for worship. Among his sculptural installations are a number of Holocaust Memorials that pay tribute to the victims of the atrocities (included are many from his own family).
Awards and recognitions
David has been the recipient of major international design commissions and awards, including from the American Institute of Architects' Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture. He is a member of the International Sculpture Center, and he is past president of the American Guild of Judaic Art and has lectured on the subject of Judaic art.
From a series of abstract stained glass windows for Beth El Congregation near Washington, DC.
- "100 Artists of the Mid-Atlantic", by E. Ashley Rooney, Schiffer Books (2011) ISBN 978-0-7643-3734-5.
- "The Visual Artists Rights Act at 20", by Daniel Grant, The Huffington Post, February 7, 2011.
- "What is the Meaning of This", by Martha Lufkin, The Art Newspaper, October 2010 at 28.
- "When Creator and Owner Clash", by Daniel Grant, The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2010.
- "Public Art: A World's Eye View, Integrating Art Into the Environment" ICO Publishers, Japan (2008). ISBN 978-4-931154-32-2.
- “Inside, Outside, Sculpture Shows Pieces of His Soul”, by Jan Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 31, 2004.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum Art Inventories Catalogue, Call Numbers: PA001671, PA001366, NY000754, 74780001, 747800003, 747800004, 74700005
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