The other day I spent a wonderful afternoon with artist, Malcah Zeldis and her daughter Yona. Who better to describe this fantastic woman than her daughter.
Yona writes," A good friend said to me, “Your mother is not just a great person, she’s a great event!” And it’s true. Her super-sized style is apparent in her art, her clothing and her décor. Born in 1931 and raised in Detroit, she spent nine years of her life in Israel, and returned to the United States in 1958 to settle in New York City. After raising my brother and me, she finally found the courage to pursue the life of an artist, a long held dream of hers. Although she did not study formally, she achieved her own form of expression with her brightly colored, densely packed oil paintings and gouaches, as well as with her sculptures, many of which were created using found objects. Today she has a thriving career which includes many museum shows (the Smithsonian and The Museum of American Folk Art are two high points), important private collections and numerous publications. I was always enchanted by the way she dressed and I can still remember outfits she wore back in the 1960s, when I was a small child. Some highlights: a pair of floor length cherry velvet evening pants (cut so full as to resemble a skirt) worn with a glittery purple belted tunic and long strands of red crystal beads, a wool coat in a black and white checkerboard pattern with black fox trim, a white, hand embroidered caftan from Israel, a cotton summer dress in a denim blue, with contrasting red stitching (there was a matching bow for her long black hair), a sleeveless shift in sky blue and brown, with what looked like a red, black and white target dead center. I loved her look back then, and I still love it today.