500 Year Itch: Shelley Niro’s Mohawk Marilyn

Shelley Niro, a Mohawk visual artist and filmmaker born in Niagara Falls in 1954, is the subject of a current exhibition at the Ryerson Image Center in Toronto until August 5, Blouin Artinfo reports.

“This retrospective includes both seminal projects and never-before-shown photographs, along with some of the artist’s most recent works. A member of the Six Nations Reserve, Bay of Quinte Mohawk, Turtle Clan, Niro combines beadwork designs, archival images, family pictures, videos, and installation to question traditional representations of Indigenous peoples, with a particular focus on womanhood. Challenging stereotypes, Niro’s portraits explore notions of culture and identity with sensitivity and humor.

She is most noted for her photographs using herself and female family members cast in contemporary positions to challenge the stereotypes and cliches of Native American women. Niro explored the oral history of the Iroquois people in general and the diaspora of Mohawk people in particular. She is known for her photography, which often combines portraits of contemporary Native women with traditional Mohawk imagery. She uses herself, friends, and family members as models. Her 1992 photographic series, ‘This Land Is Mime Land’ and ‘500 Year Itch’ employ humorous pop culture references, such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. Niro often works in diptychs and triptychs, using photographic processes such as photo montage, hand tints, and sepia tones.

Shelly Niro is often compared to the artist Cindy Sherman because they both cast themselves in different roles in an attempt to break down various stereotypes. Niro, however never fully disguises herself. ‘She wants the viewer to recognize her within her manifestations.'”

Marilyn Movie Art in Havana

Memory in Pictures: Cuban Film Institute Posters 1960-2017, a new exhibition at the National Museum of Fine Arts until August 12, includes this poster for a 1970s retrospective of Marilyn’s movies, featuring a still from ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, her big number from Let’s Make Love, the Havana Times reports.

“Sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), visitors will be able to see pieces by designers Nelson Ponce, Giselle Monzon, Michele Miyares Hollands, Raul Valdes, Alejandro Rodriguez Fornes (Alucho), Alberto Nodarse (Tinti), Víctor Junco, Roberto Ramos and Claudio Sotolongo.”

Marilyn Poster Art in London

A selection of movie posters are on display at London’s BFI IMAX (which also hosts the UK’s biggest cinema screen) until tomorrow as part of an auction hosted by memorabilia seller Prop Store, Emily Petsko reports for Mental Floss. The collection includes a series of posters featuring Marilyn, designed by British illustrator Tom Chantrell, best known for his Star Wars posters (you can see more of his Marilyn artwork here.)

“The most valuable lot is a poster of the 1956 film Bus Stop, which is expected to sell for at least $2600 … Also up for grabs are two posters from the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl, in which Monroe starred alongside Laurence Olivier, and an insert poster of the popular 1959 film Some Like It Hot. Another Chantrell poster of the 1976 Monroe biopic Goodbye, Norma Jean is expected to be snatched up for at least $1900.”

UPDATE: The winning bids fell somewhat short of expectations, with the Some Like It Hot poster selling for £750, and two posters for The Prince and the Showgirl reaching £200 and £500. The posters for Bus Stop and Goodbye, Norma Jean went unsold.

‘Forever Marilyn’ in Stamford, Connecticut

The world’s media has been eager to report on the alleged controversy caused by the summer-long installation of Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn‘ at Latham Park in Stamford, Connecticut. The sculpture, inspired by the iconic ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch, shows Marilyn’s dress blowing in the wind – and its placement has her rear end facing a local church.

Although the headlines would have us believe that the church’s response has been one of puritanical outrage, the reality is more nuanced – with even the harshest critics stating that it wasn’t Marilyn herself that they found distasteful, but the overtly sexual way in which she is depicted.

“I just find the position to be offensive,” local resident Lorri Tamburro told the Stamford Advocate. “I looked at it and it was, in my eyes, very disrespectful. I think because with what I saw with all the little kids looking up, the height is ruining it. It’s ruining beautiful Marilyn.”

Parishioner Jean Meyer, however, felt differently. “You’re going to have different opinions on it, but you have to have a sense of humor,” she said. “There are bigger issues to worry about,” said another church member, Maureen Matthews. “But I’ll be interested to see how people talk about it on Sunday.”

“It is art and we don’t believe it’s offensive,” said Sandy Goldstein, who helped to organise this year’s ‘Art in Public Spaces’ exhibit. Pointing out that many nude female statues can be seen in Europe (including near churches), she added, “We absolutely mean no disrespect to the church.”

“The issue is, why that statue?” Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman of the First Congregational Church wrote in an email to the Associated Press. “Marilyn Monroe was an artist deserving our respect. Why appropriate her image in this way. Is this the best we can do?”

In a report for HuffPost, Carol Kuruvilla spoke with Yonkman:

“He said he understands the statue is a ‘piece of art’ that is ‘designed to make the viewer uncomfortable … It makes me uncomfortable,’ Yonkman told HuffPost in an email. ‘The question for each one of us is, What will you do with your discomfort? I am choosing grace.’.

Yonkman said he and his congregation, which is part of the progressive mainline Protestant denomination the United Church of Christ, don’t plan on taking any action about the placement of the statue. Instead, they want to use it as an opportunity to connect with their community.

The church has been planning to host a Pride event in Latham Park to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. ‘Marilyn is a gay icon, so it turns out that this may be a fortuitous coincidence,’ Yonkman wrote.”

Beaton’s Marilyn in Madrid

This 1956 portrait of Marilyn is featured in Cecil Beaton: Icons of the 20th Century, at Fundacion Canal in Madrid until August 19. It’s also the first Beaton retrospective held in Spain. “Beaton photographed Monroe in his Hotel Ambassador suite in New York, after she arrived an hour late,” the Guardian reports. “He later wrote that he forgave her for the delay in the moment because ‘her girlish ingenuity and cunningness broke my schemes’.”

Celebrating Marilyn in Finland

A new exhibition, Marilyn: A Woman Behind Her Roles, has opened at the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere, Finland. Showcasing the collection of Ted Stampfer, it’s a unique opportunity to see a wide range of Marilyn-owned items and memorabilia, and will be on display until December. Additionally, Risto Pitkänen’s collection of MM postcards will be displayed at the Postcard Museum from June 19-August 26. And Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits will be screened at the Niagara Arthouse Cinema this summer.

Fans follow Marilyn’s handprints at Vapriikki

‘Timeless Marilyn’ in Bury St. Edmunds

Marilyn Monroe: Timeless, a new photo exhibition, has opened at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St. Edmund’s, Suffolk, following a preview performance by lookalike Suzie Kennedy last night. Among the artists featured are Alfred Eisenstadt, Frank Powolny, Philippe Halsman, Elliott Erwitt, Milton Greene, Bert Stern and George Barris. Additionally, a silver-framed triptych of portraits and text by Cecil Beaton (a wedding gift to Marilyn and Arthur Miller from Joshua and Nedda Logan in 1956), is also on display (see video here.)

Arts editor and MM fan Andrew Clarke has reviewed the exhibit for the East Anglian Daily Times.  (The lovely image below, credited in the article to Andre de Dienes, was actually taken by Joseph Jasgur in 1946.)

“Part of her enduring appeal can be put down to the fact that she is adored by women (particularly young women) as much as she is by men. This is down to the fact that she was a strong woman, who refused to bow to the studio system, went to work on her terms, and was always looking to improve herself … She loved the camera and she recognised its value and the support it gave her, even at her lowest moments. Even when she had been fired from her unfinished film Something’s Got To Give, opposite Dean Martin, she commissioned at least two photo-sessions to not only keep her name before her loyal public, but to let them know she was evolving and moving on.”

In the same article, Clarke also interviews curator Brian White of Kudos Memorabilia…

“One of our personal favourites, however, is a bewitching black and white portrait of Marilyn, from 1953, by famed portrait photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995). Marilyn, age 26, is posing informally in a simple black pullover and white slacks. Her nuanced expression is exquisite, and her warm, yet casual, intimacy, combined with an almost palpable vulnerability, memorialises an authentic Marilyn that many studio photographers failed to capture. This image was originally shot by ‘Eisie’ as a potential cover image for Life Magazine. At the time, editors considered it to be too understated to make the grade, but, every year since 1953, this image has grown in prestige amongst collectors of classic Marilyn Monroe photography. This beautiful silver gelatine print also features Eisenstaedt’s personal signature.”