Through June 30
This story was featured in the May 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art May 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art May 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
Painter Stanley Meltzoff earned a master’s degree in fine art in 1940, then spent four years as a newspaper correspondent for the Stars and Stripes during World War II and another 20 years as an art teacher and commercial illustrator. In the early 1960s he went to Sports Illustrated to propose a series of game-fish paintings that would forever change the course of his own career and the field of sporting art. Now showing at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum is a collection of 22 paintings of ocean life and underwater species for which Meltzoff has become renowned.
“As a fish painter, he was the first and remains universally recognized as the best,” says Mike Rivkin, the owner of the collection and a longtime big-game-fish angler. “He elevated the [sporting art] genre to a fine art.” This collection includes works that capture the drama, color, and otherworldliness of underwater life featuring apex predator fish in their natural environments, such as tunas, goliath grouper (jewfish), billfish, striped bass, and bluefish. Rivkin marvels at Meltzoff’s use of line as well as how sunlight trickles through the water and stipples across the backs of the fish. “For me it’s a unique window on the undersea world,” he says.
An avid scuba and skin diver, Meltzoff traveled the globe photographing and then painting big-game fish in all seven seas, and his works are considered not only the first of their kind but possibly the last. Rivkin says that the people he sees spending the most time looking at the works when they are on exhibition are other artists. “They know whatever gift Stanley had, it was a one-time thing,” Rivkin says. “I hear artists say, ‘I just can’t do that’ or ‘I don’t know how he did that.’”
Rivkin encourages people to see the exhibit even if they have no interest in marine life or ocean life. “Don’t be put off because it’s fish. The art is world class, and it doesn’t see the light of day very often. It sparks something in people that they didn’t know was there.” Most of Meltzoff’s works are in museums and private collections, he notes, and aren’t on view often. “This is a unique opportunity to see something very special,” Rivkin says. —Laura Rintala
Featured in the May 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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