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Posts Tagged ‘Malcah Zeldis’

GC Myers- Geometry of the HeartIt was Opening Day for Major League Baseball the other day, which is always  a red letter day for me.  It’s sort of like 2013 has officially began, that my day to day life now has something with which to synchronize, something to fall in rhythm with.  So, even though I have been feeling under the weather for several days,  I was able to complete a new piece, one that had been banging around in my head for a long time.  It incorporated the perfect geometry of the baseball diamond nestled among a tightly clustered neighborhood of Red Roofs.  It’s an odd piece, one that feels both typical and atypical at once.  That’s a quality that I like.

ralph_fasanella_sandlot_baseball_1373_356I have been wanting to incorporate the baseball diamond into one of my landscapes, perhaps influenced by some of the folk art paintings that did it so well.  I have featured some of these here, such as Malcah Zeldis’ Homage to Hank Greenberg, shown at the bottom of this page or Ralph Fasanella’s Sandlot Baseball,  shown here on the left.  These are paintings I like very much as much for the baseball aspect as for the wonderful folk art manner in which they are painted.  There is something in the sight of a diamond that has a hypnotic effect on me, something I hoped to capture in a painting.

I always remember the feeling when I was a kid and we went to Shea Stadium to see the Mets play, especially for night games.  You would head out from the dim light of the concourse and emerge into the brightness of the field lights.  The green of the field was so vibrant, the brownish red of the infield dirt so rich.  There was something perfect in looking down on that diamond, a design that made so much sense to a child’s mind.  A beautiful geometry, one that equalizes weaknesses and strengths.  The length of the basepaths, for example, are such that  on a hard hit  ball to the infield a fast runner can be easily thrown out at first but a slower runner can often beat out a soft groundball.

Here, a small man could easily conquer a much larger man from a distance of 60′ 6 “, the distance from homeplate to the pitching rubber.   Skill overcomes pure strength, size and athleticism.  If you ever saw Michael Jordan flailing helplessly at minor league curveballs, you’ll know what I mean.

I could write a lot more here.  And I probably should.  But I simply want to show this new piece, a 20″ by 24″ that I’m calling Geometry of the Heart.  Here, the ball park, a Little League sort of field, represents the heart of the neighborhood, the openness of the field stands in direct contrast with the cramped houses.  This is a painting that I have really enjoyed painting, one that is probably more for myself than for anyone else but one that I needed to paint.

malcah-zeldis-homage-to-hank-greenberg

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On my recent visit to the Fenimore Art Museum, there were many pieces that really hit with me but one that I keep coming back to in my mind is a folk art painting from Malcah Zeldis titled Homage to Hank Greenberg.  Greenberg, the large figure of the baseball player in the upper center of the painting, played for the Detroit Tigers in the 1930’s and 40’s and was a power-hitting superstar of that era.  Known as the Hebrew Hammer, not only was he the hero of Detroit fans but he was also a hero to Jewish fans throughout the nation.  Malcah, born in the Bronx but raised in Detroit, was a fan of Greenberg’s in both camps.  He was to her, as the painting shows, larger than life.

The painting has a wonderful glow to it in the museum gallery, a bit more warm and orange than this image, that makes it most appealing.  This warmth draws you in and allows you to take in all the smaller details that Malcah has painted into the beautifully laid-out scene,  such as  scene directly below Greenberg where the artist and her family are portrayed sitting around the radio, listening to the game. 

I also find appeal in this painting in that the work is so confident and sure handed in the way the paint is applied.  It creates a real sense of solidness in the whole piece, giving you the sense that the artist is totally committed to their vision and their message. 

In short, I think it’s just a damn fine painting. 

For more info, on Malcah Zeldis, who is one interesting person, I refer you to a blogpost from the  American Folk Art @ Cooperstown site and to an interesting article from earlier this year in the Downtown Express, the Newspaper of Lower Manhattan as they put it.  She has led a vibrant and interesting life and still creates wonderful work at the age of 80.  Here’s a video that shows her in her apartment talking about some of her paintings and other objects she has found.

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