Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Malcah Zeldis and her Peaceable Kingdom

I thought a lot about Malcah Zeldis yesterday during all the Inaugural festivities. Maybe because Malcah is an artist who loves Honest Abe Lincoln and has painted over 100 portraits of him in her own outsider, folk art way. And, because maybe of all the comparative discussion around Obama and Lincoln, I had to call her to find out how she was and what she was thinking during the inauguration. I met Malcah in the late 90's while she was an Artist-in-residence at the museum where I worked and I still visit her sometimes in NYC where she lives. Malcah is known for her many Peaceable Kingdom paintings. Remember Edward Hicks' Peaceable Kingdoms? In them, she paints people she admires--Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Liberace, Anne Frank, Ghandi, Harpo Marx, Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller, and the list even extends to the Clintons and other political figures from all different countries who have tried to work for peace. She has illustrated many books, some written by her daughter Yona Zeldis McDonough, about Nelson Mandela, Marilyn Monroe, Hank Greenberg, and Joe DiMaggio to name a few. I love the Peaceable Kingdom paintings, the bright, straight- from- the -tube colors, the lines and shapes, but really, I love the meaning of it...It seemed an appropriate image for the Obama day of all days...for The Moment. I will be visiting Malcah in February, so I'll try to get some photos to share.

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