For Big Apple-based artist Charles Miller, the Jewish boxers highlighted in his “Sting Like a Maccabee” exhibit appealed to him from much more than a simple artistic perspective.
“I suppose that I developed a fascination with the history of Jews in boxing because it seemed like such a contradiction in terms,” he said. “They were intellectuals, writers, scientists and yet generations of young Jews fought their way into the history books mostly as underestimated challengers and skinny, scrappy wannabes. Yet many went on to become the greatest of champions.”
Displaying “Sting” at South Shore Arts’ Atrium Gallery at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster through Nov. 25, Miller received a bachelor’s degree in art from Bennington College in Vermont.
Over the years, Miller’s works have been shown throughout New York City as well as in publications such as The New Yorker and Rolling Stone and on big and small screen shows such as “The Sopranos, “”Runaway Bride” and “Kate and Leopold.” Miller’s paintings can also be found in private collections of Madonna, film director Wes Anderson and Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.
A longtime boxing aficionado and a champion of the in and out-of-ring triumphs of Mohammad Ali, Miller stepped into the early 20th Century Jewish boxing ring after a chance meeting with a former boxer, manager and boxing historian at a New Year’s Eve party in 1998. Between then and 2008, he created more than five dozen paintings, prints and drawings of Jewish boxing legends such as Young Benny Leonard, Lew Tendler and Ruby Goldstein.
“Sting” is made up of nine paintings, six drawings and more than a half dozen prints.
“The work on display at South Shore Arts are the last few pieces remaining in my possession of this project,” Miller said. “I have moved on to other subjects but these pieces represent a good cross-section of my work in that period. I hope that the representation of strength, pride, character and bravery of the Jewish boxer comes across to the viewer of this exhibit.
South Shore Arts’ Atrium Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.