AAAW hosts International Women’s Day in Malden

By Jennifer McClain There were discussions of equality and income disparities. And there was also fun, celebration and dancing, specifically displaying the beauty of the Arabic culture. This was the 7th Annual International Women’s Day 2019 event hosted by the American Association for Arab Women (AAAW) on March 16 at the Malden Senior Community Center. The event was attended by about 60 people, a diverse crowd representing many different cultures. A number of Malden’s political leaders were in attendance. AAAW President Souad Akib welcomed attendees first by calling for a moment of silence and then reading from the Koran to honor those lost in the recent tragedy in New Zealand. She then launched into a call to action in honor of International Women’s Day, reciting a list of what should be done and how you can do it. “We need to make sure women are treated with respect in the workplace,” Akib said. She went on to describe how it could be accomplished: “If you are a hiring manager, interview as many women as you […]


Art at the Library: The Playwright and the Sun King

By Jennifer McClain This is  another in a series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. The Malden Public Library’s art collection continues to astound us with an imaginary meeting between two of France’s luminaries: its most famous playwright and the monarch known as “The Sun King.” In the painting “Louis XIV and Moliere,” by Jean-Leon Gerome, Louis XIV is pictured as sharing a meal with Moliere. This remarkable work was purchased by the library in December 1940 with funds from the Elisha and Mary D. Converse Art Fund and represents one of the library’s most notable acquisitions. Gerome, born in 1824, used his imagination for this painting as  Moliere died in 1673 and Louis XIV in 1715 and he  completed this painting in 1863. Yet the two imposing figures in French history did have a complex relationship. Louis XIV benefited greatly from the belief in  divine monarchical rule. At the very young age of 4, he became France’s supreme ruler and went on […]


Erté, the Father of Art Deco, brings style to Malden Library

By Jennifer McClain The Malden art galleries at the Malden Public Library have another surprise for us: modern art sculptures by Erté, considered the “true father of art deco.” This speaks volumes to the breadth and depth of the collection at the Malden Public Library’s galleries. The sculptures are displayed in the Ryder Gallery. The sculptures are Justice and Peace, both bronzes completed in 1984. The Library purchased them both in 1992. The art collection is purchased through a trust fund created by Elisha Slade Converse. As the founder of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company and first mayor of Malden, he donated several sums of money during his lifetime and at the time of his death that could be only used for the purchase of art for the Malden Public LIbrary. Erté was born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St Petersburg, Russia. He was Ukrainian, Russian, and French and used the pseudonym of the French pronunciation of his initials, Erté. The diversity of his nationality is reflected in the diversity of his art. Sculpture was only one of […]


How the Refugee Immigration Ministry helps asylum seekers: An interview with Reverend Isaac Seelam

By Jennifer McClain Reports about the forced separation of immigrant parents and children have been dominating the news in recent months. However, activists, like the Reverend Isaac Seelam,  have been advocates for immigrants and asylum seekers for many years. Seelam is the Community Outreach Advocate for Refugee Immigration Ministry in Malden as well as the Congregational Coordinator between the Refugee Ministry and the Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. He has  a master’s degrees in both theology and sacred theology. He has been with the Refugee Immigration Ministry since 2012. The organization has been active in Malden since 1986. The office in Malden serves asylum seekers from the Middlesex detention centers. I sat down for an interview with Rev. Seelam after attending a presentation by the Refugee Immigration Ministry at First Parish as part of the church’s Sunday Service. Q: How did Refugee Immigration Ministry get its start? A: Spiritual caregiving was the beginning origins and still the emphasis of the Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM) but in this work RIM realized that detainees seeking asylum could not be released […]


Scoping out Malden’s Mystery Telescope

By Jennifer McClain A Malden Reads initiative that sent readers into orbit with The Martian serendipitously uncovered an astronomical mystery here on Earth. Through hosting stargazing events on Waitt’s Mount, organizers discovered that there was an antique telescope at Malden High School. Not only was the majestic antique riveting to the eye and grand in scale but, they wondered, could it also provide an excellent view of the night sky? Where did it come from? And what should be done with it? The mystery began three years ago when Malden Reads began stargazing on Waitt’s Mountain, in connection with The Martian, the novel by Andy Weir. Jodie Zalk, Malden Reads Co-Facilitator, learned that there was a telescope just gathering dust at MHS, and that this was a “telescope of historical significance.” Zalk was captivated. She attempted to research the telescope through the Blue and Gold (Malden High School’s official newspaper) and tried to follow up with local experts. She was able to determine that the instrument was made by Alvan Clark and Sons, famed optics makers of the 19th […]


Bring One, Take One: FOOGI hosts 13th annual Plant Swap

By Bonnie Blanchard and Jennifer McClain After such a long sloggy winter, it was delightful to bike to the Malden Community Garden on the Bike Path on Saturday, June 9, for the 13th annual FOOGI (Friends of Oak Grove, Inc) Plant Swap.  Although the season had just kicked off, many in the community garden community had tried and true tested varieties ready to swap. Not only were there the plants themselves but the advice to go with them. And not just plants but bulbs, roots, seeds and more. Many participants were armed with a myriad of plants, books, and miscellaneous garden items. The granite stone wall of the garden was soon lined with all manner of great garden paraphernalia. The signs separating the items for swapping were labeled: Sun, Part Sun, Shade, Veggies and Herb, and Miscellaneous Garden Items. This allowed everyone to pick what they needed based on what they had room and sun for.  The gardens themselves were also open for everyone to get a glimpse. A delightful children’s “Vegetable Soup Garden” was […]


Artist, explorer, photographer captures images of a frozen world

By Jennifer McClain This is this is another in the series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. Even as William Bradford  was stranded on an ice-locked ship. he kept drawing and photographing. The eerie and desolate view of frozen water everywhere was for him the epitome of magnificence. As one of Bradford’s companions, Alpheus Spring Packard, wrote in his journal: “From the mountains above us we watched, day after day, the ceaseless march of icebergs and cakes, large and small.” Viewing In the Lee of the Iceberg (1883), a painting at the Malden Public Library by Bradford, you can imagine this very scene. The ship is placed just right of a massive mountain of snow and ice that dwarfs the ship before it. The water appears hard and cold with sheets of ice that seem to be moving as you look at them. To emphasize the grandness of the expanse, another tiny ship is placed just to the left of the iceberg. Bradford (1823 […]


Who are our neighbors?

By Jennifer McClain “You must begin with the stories,” said the Rev. Isaac Seelam during a recent talk  at First Parish Malden. As a visiting guest at the First Parish Malden, Rev. Seelam was there to explain the mission of Refugee Immigration Ministry, which provides refugees and asylum seekers job preparation, case management and immigrant support. “We had a woman who was kidnapped, taken from her family and friends and held for a period of time..she lost her humanity. Somehow she escaped,”  said Rev. Seelam, the Coordinator for Congregational Development at RIM and who works with the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts in partnership with RIM. The woman found out about an opportunity to go to America for a conference and was told for her own safety to “go and not come back.” First Parish Malden will host a fundraiser for the Refugee Immigration Ministry on Thursday, May 10, at the parish, 2 Elm St., featuring several participating interfaith choirs: Tickets: $20, Students $10. “These are people who can not go back to their own countries,“ said Rev. Seelam. The […]


Paper History: Malden man’s passionate poster collection

By Jennifer McClain Tree-lined, long flat roads with large grassy areas greet you on the way into the town of Norfolk. It is a sparsely populated town with a centrally located library. This is exactly the kind of place where Stephen Lewis wants to mount an exhibit from his expansive poster collection, even though he is a long-time Malden resident. Lewis, a former union organizer and poster collector, believes his mission is to bring these posters to those who live in suburban and rural areas where interaction with this type of art is less likely.  He also likes the serendipity involved in showcasing in libraries or colleges; it allows viewers to stumble into this work without spending money or planning a visit. Lewis has been collecting posters for the past 22 years at both union and activist conferences and has now accumulated more than  7,000  posters. He stages about three exhibits a month, usually each centered on a theme.  He has shown his Cuban posters in Worcester,  revolutionary posters in Pepperell,  and “Stop Violence Against Women” posters […]


Art treasures at the library: Lincoln at Gettysburg

By Jennifer McClain This is the first in a series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. You may think of Malden Public Library as a place for books, but the library has a surprisingly impressive art collection. One of its  startlingly monumental paintings is “Lincoln at Gettysburg,” by Albion Harris Bicknell (1837-1915). To examine this painting, please click on this link. That the Gettysburg address on Nov. 19, 1861, was astounding speech of eloquence by Abraham Lincoln on that day is well known. Less well-known are the other attendees on that event. According an art collection website from Lafayette College, “Lincoln at Gettysburg” was painted in the late 1870s or early 1880s.  Bicknell depicts  20 important Union leaders, some who did not actually attend the ceremony. In a letter to the Malden Public Library, the National Park Service said the Bicknell work was the only painting made of the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg. All of the twenty men represented in the […]