MALCAH is a rare glimpse inside the jubilant world of renowned Jewish Folk Artist Malcah Zeldis. Discover how she went from being a struggling single parent to one of the most widely exhibited naïve painters of our time in a male dominated field. She’s the only living artist to have a solo exhibition by the Museum of American Folk Art—made all the more impressive considering she didn’t even pick up a brush until she was 38! This whimsical profile celebrates the life and work of a true American original.
We first met Malcah while filming another documentary on famed Greenwich Village Pet Portraitist, Mimi Vang Olsen. Mimi said if we thought she was a character, we should meet her friend … and she wasn’t wrong. The minute you step into Malcah’s apartment (which also serves as her gallery), you are transported into a world of wonder and whimsey.
Every inch is filled by her creations: Sculptures made of found objects, cultural touchstones and biblical epics painted on cardboard from the trash-room—all rendered in her unique, childlike self-taught style. It’s like stepping into her brain and seeing the world through her eyes.
No matter what hardships life has thrown her way, she has adapted and found a way to make brilliant, exuberant art out of it. She has lived life and made art on her own terms, following in the lost tradition of the American Maverick. We fell in love with her immediately think you will too.
Director Anthony Maranville wrote for the Emmy, Saturn, and GLAAD Award winning Star Trek: Discovery and the Emmy nominated Short Trek episode: “Ephraim & Dot.” He also directed the award-winning documentary Mimi Vang Olsen: Pet Portraitist and is set to produce several upcoming martial arts pictures for Evolution Films.
Shana Stein is a producer and director, currently working on the hit TV shows Ghost, Raising Kanan and Force. Prior to working in the Power Universe, Shana produced the Independent Spirit Award Nominated Restaurant and Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hell Ride, which premiered at Sundance.
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Malcah Zeldis (excerpted from Jewish Virtual Library): Zeldis’ paintings use a flat style and bold colors. Completely self-taught, Zeldis does not concern herself with academic rules of painting and instead follow her own. Her work is widely collected and exhibited, with collections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Folk Art Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, and the International Folk Art Museum. It was used for an invitation and poster for the traveling exhibit, American Art on the Move, which toured museums during 2001. Most notably, Zeldis was the first living artist to have a solo exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum in New York in 1988. Zeldis’ work has also been published in many books, including the “Moments of Jewish Life.”
SELF PORTRAIT WITH YELLOW SHOES. 1981. ACRYLIC ON MASONITE.