The only disappointment felt by the guests at Mimie Zlotnik’s art exhibit was that the brightly colored paintings — landscapes, abstracts and lovely renderings of flowers — were not for sale.
That’s because the 89-year-old mother of three, and grandmother of eight, allows her progeny to claim every single piece that she creates.
And there are many.
The prolific and skilled Zlotnik, who has had a love for art since she was a child, averages about four paintings a week. Her one-woman show on July 16 at Weinberg Terrace, a personal care community on Bartlett Street in Squirrel Hill, attracted scores of admirers, including many family members eager to lay claim to their favorite pieces, and former and current art classmates. Zlotnik has been a regular at Lila Hirsch Brody’s acrylic painting classes at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh for the last 34 years.
“Mimie would sit across the table from me at class, and she is the best art critic in the world,” said Francine VandenBerg, an art teacher at Wilkins School. “She was a great help. She’s so versatile. I have learned so much from Mimie. Her sense of color and composition are terrific. And her abstracts sing.”
Zlotnik, a lifelong Pittsburgher, has been recognized for her work since she was a student at Taylor Allderdice High School, where she was the winner of the Gold Key Scholastic Art award which came with a $25 prize.
Following graduation from high school, Zlotnik enrolled at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh to hone her skills.
“It wasn’t my cup of tea, so I quit,” Zlotnik said, adding that she was not interested in the focus of the program, which was commercial art.
She began painting bisque porcelain figurines in the late 1940s, while her husband — the late Milton Zlotnik, who passed away in 2015 — was living in what would become the State of Israel, helping with the war effort. When he returned to Pittsburgh, she put her art on the shelf for 30 years as she focused on raising her family. But when she enrolled in Brody’s class in 1983, she found that her love for art, though dormant for some time, was still very much alive.
She has been painting ever since.
“This is my godsend since Milt’s been gone,” Zlotnik said. “When I have stress, this is my release. It’s my No. 1 passion.”
Zlotnik has entered many art competitions and has earned an impressive collection of award ribbons.
She’ll exhibit more of her work at a show running Aug. 2 to Aug. 30 at the Fine/Perlow and Weis Gallery at the JCC in Squirrel Hill, which will feature the students of Brody’s class. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.