Saturday in the Museum with Malcah

Image: Malcah Zeldis, Miss Liberty Celebration, (1987), oil on corrugated cardboard, © Malcah Zeldis

For this week’s art post we went Americana for the Fourth.  We usually try to find a link to food, but for this weekend we will have to settle for the implied taste of grilled hot dogs and macaroni salad in this painting.

The painting is from Malcah Zeldis. Entitled Miss Liberty Celebration, it is in the holdings of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  It is painted to mark the centenary of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.  Zeldis herself used the theme of a celebration to mark her own recovery from cancer and called the painting an ​exultation of survival.”  Like the wedding at Cana scene from last week, this piece is chock full of people, including Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein and Abe Lincoln. Others depicted are drawn from Zeldis’ friends and family.  She put herself in the picture in the bottom right in a red dress.

Zeldis’ biography is almost as packed as her painting.  She was born Mildred Brightman in 1931 in the Bronx.  At 18, she left her home in Detroit to live on a kibbutz in Israel. After marriage and an extended stretch in Israel, she returned to New York in 1958.  Though she painted and received some encouragement along the way, it wasn’t until the ’70s when here children were grown that she enrolled at Brooklyn College.  She divorced, found a job as a teacher’s aide and began her painting career in earnest.  Her style is distinct and self-taught.  It is rich with themes of her life, history, religion, and the Americana of this picture.


Enjoy the long weekend and the celebrations.  After the events of the last couple years, we look forward to a sense of optimism and community.  And of course food, because when we are not posting about art on Saturdays, we are dining guide for Washington, D.C. the rest of the time.  We like to think of it as the best way to find a place to eat in the District.  There are 300+ recommended restaurants that you can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc.) in either LIST or MAP format.

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