Chesterfield collage artist Michael Metzger has entertainment in his blood
A detail of the collage Chesterfield artist Michael Metzger created for Roger Slobody of West Brookfield showshim holding a photograph of his 4-year-old son riding a pony.
A detail of the collage Michael Metzger was commmissioned to make by Richard Foos, owner of Rhino Records. Purchase photo reprints »
Chesterfield resident Michael Metzger sits on a wall at his South Street home, holding a rendition of the collage he made to celebrate the 50th birthday of Richard Foos, owner of Rhino Records, which is headquartered in Claremont, Calif.
LAURA RODLEY Purchase photo reprints »
If there is an “entertainer” gene, Chesterfield resident Michael Metzger is likely to have it. The grandson of the late actor Eddie Cantor, who starred in vaudeville, Broadway, the Siegfield Follies and several silent films, Metzger learned early on the art of tuning in to what makes people laugh — the details that entertain and amuse audiences.
Metzger now draws on that knowledge and his attention to detail in the creation of his one-of-a-kind collages. His collages, which have been exhibited at soldout shows worldwide, will be on display and for sale Nov. 10 and 11 at the Hilltown Artisans Guild Holiday Art Show and Sale, where he is the event’s featured artist.
“Eddie Cantor was the premiere celebrity of the world,” said Metzger, speaking recently at his South Street home. During his 30 years in entertainment, from 1917 to 1946, Cantor appeared in the silent films “Whoopee,” “Strike Me Pink” and “Kid Millions,” radio shows including “The Eddie Cantor Hour” and “The Chase and Sanborn Hour,” as well as World War II USO benefit performances. Metzger joined him once on television during the “Colgate Comedy Hour.” Cantor was also a best friend of fellow actor George Jessel.
“The seed passed on to me, the desire to entertain. That’s how I grew up in a family plugged into these careers, in entertaining whatever that maybe. For me it was writing and television,” he said. “When you’re the granddaughter, grandson, son or daughter of a well-known celebrity, what you do can’t be measured in any way up against what was done before you,” he said.
Metzger’s career in the Los Angeles’ entertainment business included creating shows such as the “Dating Game” and the “Newlywed Game.” In 2002, he moved with his family to Chesterfield.
Metzger started making collages in 1965. His collages have been very well-received.
When he presented a commissioned collage to Richard Foos, owner of the record company Rhino Records, Metzger said Foos was bowled over and jokingly told Metzger, “I’m having a heart attack.”
The collage depicted many of the people in Foos’ life — his wife, Shari Foos, Diane Sawyer, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Whoopee Goldberg, Cher — all seated at a long table, bringing to mind Leonardo da Vinci’s famous paintng “The Last Supper.” The collage included a cutout of the ship, the Bremen, which carried Foos to America when he was a little boy,” said Metzger.
A commission for Roger and Laurie Slobody, producers of the miniature horses at Sawmill River Farm in West Brookfield, included their horses and farmhouse, their two grown children, and Roger Slobody holding a snapshot of their son, Roger, taken when he was 4, shortly before he died in an accident. “That clinched it for him,” said Metzger.
“It’s magic. I can include people who have passed away — reunite all the people who had meaning in their lives,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons I do collage, giving eternal life. I’m not even that religious. I’m an ‘eternalist.’”
The Hilltown Artisans Guild event will take place Nov. 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 160 Huntington Road. The event is free.
A free talk, “Understanding 2012, Mysteries, Prophecies and Lost Knowledge,” will be given by Cummington resident Richard Fournier, director of Taproot Commons spiritual retreat in Cummington and pastor of Buckland’s Mary Lyon Church, and Ashfield resident James Vieira, writer, stonemason and researcher of local historic stone formations. The talk will take place at the Ashfield Town Hall on Main Street on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. Topics will include “Precession of the Equinoxes,” the 25,900-year cycle or platonic year that ends on Dec. 21 — and starts anew.
The Hilltown Choral Society started rehearsals for its 56th season on Monday. The rehearsals take place Mondays from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Worthington Historical Society Building at the corner of Routes 143 and 112. The Society’s holiday concerts are slated for Dec. 1 at the Village Congregational Church in Cummington and Dec. 2 at the First Congregational Church of Chesterfield. New singers are welcome. For information, call director Jeff Hunt at 499-7320.
Laura Rodley can be reached at email@example.com.