Malcah Zeldis: Retrospective
AE SPACE: Etta Ehrlich
Reception: Friday, February 15, 6-8 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, March 8, 2-3 pm
The gallery will present a retrospective of Malcah Zeldis' work, the first since 1988. Born in 1931, Zeldis is arguably the most renowned living folk artist still working in America today. Completely self-taught, her paintings were first spotted at an open gallery show at the Brooklyn Museum in 1973. Her first solo exhibit followed at Phyllis Kind Gallery in 1976. Other solo exhibitions include the American Folk Art Museum (1988), the New York State Historical Society (1993), the Yeshiva University Museum (2000), the Katonah Museum of Art (2002) in addition to many gallery shows. The American Folk Art Museum show was their first retrospective ever of a living artist. Her work has also been featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington DC), the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum (Baltimore) and the Terra Museum of Art (Chicago). Public collections include the Smithsonian (on permanent display), the American Folk Art Museum, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of Folk Art(Williamsburg, VA), Akron Museum, the Jewish Museum(New York), Skirball (Los Angeles) among many others.
This exhibit features 24 oil paintings and gouaches from the early 1970's up to the present. Zeldis' paintings are known for their flat, naïve compositions and for their vibrant primary colors. Her subjects range from Old Testament scenes to portraits of heroes like Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King and Andy Warhol. Sometimes she places herself in her pictures alongside her idols.
In her Art in America review of the American Folk Art Museum retrospective Amy Fine Collins noted: "Malcah Zeldis' paintings nearly jumped out of their sedate setting. The raw vitality of her naively rendered memories and fantasies seems to have welled up from a source not always available to more tutored painters. Zeldis returns art to its aboriginal purpose: a medium for wish fulfillment and magical thinking."
In AE SPACE, the gallery's project room, Etta Ehrlich will be having her second solo exhibit with the gallery. Though also born in 1931, Ehrlich is a relative newcomer to art making. She has been a practicing psychologist for over 40 years. Her counseling process is infused with tenets of Eastern thought and meditation.
Around 1999, she began to apply stenciled text of her haiku-like thoughts and sayings onto the surfaces of rare and antique bottles. The interplay between the words and fragile artifacts makes Ehrlich's messages more searing and worthy of contemplation.
More recently, the artist has expanded her use of materials to include digitized LED texts, antique tools, vials and other historical markers significant for their designs and former uses. Retired from their original purpose, Ehrlich uses these objects as vehicles for her powerful ideas and beliefs derived from a lifetime of devotion to the awareness of unconscious thought within us all.
"When I am in Kyoto, I wish I was in Kyoto"
-- Etta Ehrlich