A drawing of some celebrity by Al Hirschfeld, the noted caricaturist of Broadway stars and other public figures, caught the attention of Sam Goldstein, a retired printer, about 20 years ago.
A longtime tinkerer and repairer of household items, he thought to make 3-D replicas of the drawing — out of soldered-together copper wire.
Goldstein liked the finished product.
Since then, he’s done some four dozen wire sculptures of the works of Hirschfeld and other artists, and a dozen of his best went on exhibition recently at the Kittay House, the independent senior living apartment building in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx where he has lived for a year.
The Lower East Side native is 95. “An old geezer,” he says.
Over the last two decades Goldstein has given many of his creations away to friends and relatives who have become fans of his creativity.
“This is not art — I copy,” says Goldstein, who has no art training. “I do it when I have time, at my leisure.” He also attends lectures at Kittay House, and builds furniture, and makes lamps out of musical instruments like drums or trumpets.
His fingers are still nimble, but he says that’s not the key to his wire works. “It’s using the eye.”
Pictured here are, from left, Conductor Leonard Bernstein, Broadway’s Man of LaMancha, and actor Orson Wells.
The exhibition has made Goldstein a minor celebrity at Kittay House, says Arlene Richman, director. “It started a lot of excitement. People have been so enthralled.”
Richman, who has a background in art therapy, decided to devote a separate exhibition to Goldstein’s sculptures, she says, when she was looking for items earlier this year for the residence’s annual tenants’ art show and heard about his creations. She visited his apartment and saw the sculptures, “one more incredible than another.”
She says he is “really understated” about his sculptures. “He tells me, ‘I just bend a few wires.’”