Monday, February 23, 2009

Visit with Folk Artist, Malcah Zeldis

I promised a post about our visit in NYC with folk artist, Malcah Zeldis. She looked wonderful. I met Malcah many years ago while working as a museum educator. Her Anne Frank paintings were exhibited to complement a larger exhibit called "Daniel's Story" from the Holocaust Museum in DC. "Do you like my tree?" The first thing Malcah wanted to show us was the "tree" in her living room made up entirely of found objects, including, of course, a photo of Lincoln, her favorite. Her apartment is like a gallery with her paintings covering every square inch of wall. Notable were the holocaust paintings and a large painting of Marilyn Monroe. In her studio room, there were more paintings stacked in shelves and against the walls. On her studio table was a "Peaceable Kingdom", in pencil, waiting to be painted. Like Edward Hicks, Malcah has painted many of them.

Malcah often collaborates with her daughter, Yona on books. You can see all the books she has illustrated and get her books here.

She liked showing us her sculptures of found objects and especially wanted to show us her homage to her mother who died several years ago. (She was in her 90's) Malcah took care of her for many years and sometimes paints her, as a ballerina (which she really was), into her peaceable kingdom paintings, which I posted about before.
In her studio, she had set up a bed and carefully set out things on the bed that belonged to her mother; her shoes, photos of her as a young girl, her tea set, and a wicker head that had a crown of clothespins. "She was a queen" she told us. In another corner was a square lampshade she painted on with markers immediately following 9/11 ("..because they were all I had that day)--before, during and after the attacks were depicted on each side of the lampshade. She lives 2 blocks from ground zero.

More about Malcah...

"Malcah Zeldis was born in the Bronx in 1931 and shortly after she moved with her family to Detroit. In 1948 she moved to Israel to work on a kibbutz. While there she married, and she began to paint. She returned to New York in 1958. Her husband actively discouraged her from painting. In 1974 she obtained a divorce and began painting in earnest. Her paintings are an expression of her own life, her experiences, her feelings, her religion and her environment. With her flat style and bold colors, Malcah creates works of art which have great appeal. She does not concern herself with academic rules of painting; she follows her own rules. Malcah's work in in the permanent collections of many museums around the world including the American Folk Art Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, the Jewish Museum, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, and the International Folk Art Museum and the . There is a book about her art titled "Moments in Jewish Life - The Folk Art of Malcah Zeldis". She has also illustrated three children's books ... "Eve and Her Sisters - Women of the Old Testament" , "Honest Abe", and "Peaceful Protest - The Life of Nelson Mandella"
(bio from here)
Go here to see her works in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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