Featured

He Ripped Off An Ear and Became a Legend: Killer Kowalski

By Sky Malerba Killer Kowalski never intended to go into  professional sports. However, he eventually became one of the most feared and simultaneously admired villains in professional wrestling. For many years, he ran a popular wrestling school in Malden. This week, Killer Kowalski is the subject for Malden Arts Mondays, a two-month long celebration of artists and figures associated with Malden.  Born Edward Władysław Spulnik on Oct. 13, 1926,  Kowalski began training at a YMCA at age 14 when he was lanky and already over six feet tall. Although he planned to become an electrical engineer, he saw opportunities in the world of professional wrestling and attended a wrestling school. As a son of Polish immigrants who was raised in Ontario, he learned he could make a solid living being a wrestler. He would come to prominence when the emerging popularity of television created a golden age of professional wrestling.  Kowalski took on a number of different identities as his wrestling persona evolved, as influenced by the technique of his craft. His names cycled through different strongman archetypes: Hercules, Tarzan, the more tame […]

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If You Start With a High School Band, Norman Greenbaum Proves You Can Make It

By Sky Malbera Remember Spirit In the Sky, the rollicking rock hit from 1969 about spirituality?  Did you know the singer was a Malden-born-and-raised musician? Norman Greenbaum, an Orthodox Jew born in 1942, went on to create music but it was Spirit in the Sky that would reverberate through American culture. It was featured in almost fifty films, including Apollo 13 and the sequel to Wayne’s World and numerous television shows such as Law & Order and Big Love. Fun fact: the lyrics reportedly took all of fifteen minutes to write! Greenbaum was more than a one-hit wonder. He led in the charts with several other memorable tunes such as The Eggplant That Ate Chicago in 1966 and Canned Ham in 1970. A long-time resident of Santa Rosa, Calif., Greenbaum visited Malden on Oct. 16 2019, to cut the ribbon unveiling a mural on 110 Pleasant Street painted by Jesse Melanson to honor of the 50th anniversary of the famous song.  Fittingly, the mural envisions a hand raised up to the sky with rainbows and music notes flying, mirroring the streets of Malden blasting the hit with the universal themes incapsulated by […]

Arts

Perle Fine: Painting Through Barriers

By Sky Malerba In a world of male artists and curators, Boston born, Malden-raised Perle Fine never quite got the acclaim owed to her. An abstractionist and a constructor of collage, Fine was shaped by the avant-guard scene of the early to mid 20th century in New York City. Fine is the selection for Week Four of Malden Arts Mondays, a two-month long celebration of artists and figures who have lived in Malden. Fine’s career arguably picked up steam in May of 1943 when two of her paintings were entered into and featured in Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century museum. Two years later Fine would enjoy her first solo exhibition in 1945 at the Willard Gallery. Gradually, Fine integrated herself into artist communities where she socialized with other expressionists in clubs like the Betty Parsons Gallery, in 1948 — an atmosphere not unlike the enlightenment groups in 19th century French salons. She congregated with the likes of Clyfford Still Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and others. By the 1960s Perle Fine was a lecturer and associate professor and is cited as […]

Arts

Humble Words From an Abstract Artist: “What You See is What You See”

By Sky Malerba Malden Arts Mondays is a two-month long celebration of artists and figures who have been born in Malden. Week Three of Malden Art’s Monday features renown artist Frank Stella. A Malden native and New York resident, Frank Stella tricks and pleases the eye with his abstraction and minimalist work which stood out in the art scene of the ’50s and ’60s. As an accomplished painter, sculptor and printmaker, Stella left his mark on pieces both in two-dimensional works and in three-dimensional space. His work includes the set and costumes for Scramble, a dance piece by Merce Cunningham in 1967, and a series of pieces called Protractor, which play with the intersection of geometric shapes and interplaying colors. In 1966, in a much quoted remark, he said, “What you see is what you see.” Testing the boundaries of his understanding of shapes and mass, he delved more into sculpture starting with using canvases of irregular shapes, and then pasting free-standing metal pieces on them with paint. This experimentation would lead to increasingly more ambitious […]

Arts

His Parents Were Slaves, He Became a Leader: Herbert L. Jackson

By Sky Malerba Malden Arts launched “Malden Arts Mondays” earlier this month with a celebration of esteemed Malden natives. First up was illustrator, Ed Emberley, who was born in Malden in 1931. This week Malden Arts celebrates the first African-American state representative in Massachusetts, Herbert L. Jackson, with a suggested walking tour and other activities. A child of parents born into slavery, Jackson was the first African American ever elected to the Malden City Council. He was first elected as a councillor for Ward 7 from 1945 to 1947, and in Ward 5 from 1947 to 1951 and as a City Councillor-at-Large from 1965 to 1975. He served as president of the Malden City Council four times. He was elected as a state house representative, serving from 1950 to 1954. Herbert L Jackson was born in 1908 to John T. Jackson and Araminta Jefferson Jackson, who owned a tailoring business. Jackson was one of seven children and it seems as though his political career started in grade school. Always breaking barriers, he ran as class president […]

Arts

Ed Emberley is the first Malden artist celebrated for “Malden Arts Mondays”

By Sky Malerba “Anyone who likes my books are like me in some way.” –Ed Emberley Malden Arts kicked off a new program “Malden Arts Mondays” on July 8-9 with a celebration of the illustrator, Ed Emberley, who was born in Malden in 1931. Activities included a walking tour to see his childhood home and the local mural dedicated to his art, as well as a list of fun arts, reading and discussion activities. Known for writing and illustrating educational children’s books with  bright colors that awaken the senses and a rare type of charm accessible to both children and adults, 88-year-old Ed Emberley has delighted audiences for more than 50 years. Notable successes include his first book The Wing on a Flea, which educated children on shapes in a narrative format. It not only made the New York Times list of best illustrated books of 1961 but was an ALA Notable Book. Ed Emberley’s A.B.C, is a fine example of Emberley’s identity as an author and artist. It is an interactive book in which […]