‘The Road to Hollywood’

Photographer Rebecca Sandulak recreates classic images – including ‘Red Head Velvet’, an homage to Marilyn Monroe’s 1949 calendar shoot with Tom Kelley – in The Road to Hollywood, an exhibition at cre8ery, Winnipeg, until April 5.

‘ “I love the beauty of the great Hollywood portraits,” says the Winnipeg photographer…Visitors will encounter the likes of Veronica Lake, Dorothy and the Wicked Witch, and a brunette Marilyn Monroe’s infamous photo spread on red satin (sans nudity this time).

That is, viewers will encounter variations on these familiar images; like actors playing well-established roles, Sandulak’s subjects (most of them actors themselves) wear the “costumes” of, for instance, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The artist’s “Brigitte Bardot” (Meghan Koley) could pass as the genuine article.

The point isn’t to fool the eye — it’s to evoke the spirit of cinema’s classical past.

“The great portraits of screen legends had no Photoshopping done to them and very little old-fashioned manipulation,” says Sandulak, who drew considerable inspiration from Hollywood ‘Golden Age’ photographers such as George Hurrell.

“The result is, there’s greater truth to them. As a purist myself, I love their beauty.”

For that matter, Sandulak, who has been a still photographer on multiple Hollywood (and non-Hollywood) film productions in Winnipeg, appreciates the beauty of a good subject. Especially women.

“I adore women with grace and beauty,” she says. Indeed, the show reinforces precisely how and why some people look like movie stars. As cinematographer Nestor Almendros once explained in Projections magazine, the camera loves some women more than others — specifically, those with “good bones” and symmetrical faces.

“Actors definitely know which are their good and bad sides,” Sandulak says. It’s often been the case that her on-set subjects will articulate if a particular angle will flatter more, or less.’

Marilyn in the Blogosphere

Andy Warhol’s Nine Multi-Colored Marilyns (Reversal Series) (1979-86) sold for £3.2 million at Sotheby’s, London, last Tuesday, after the auction was interrupted by protesters campaigning against cuts to public services, including the arts.

John Reznikoff, of University Archives, has spoken publicly for the first time about the Cusack Papers, a series forged documents relating to Marilyn and John F. Kennedy, which surfaced during the 1990s. The papers initially duped many people, including certain biographers, until they were exposed as fakes by ABC News. For more details, and to listen to the interview, visit MM Collection Blog.

Meanwhile, over at The MMM Blog, Melinda reviews the current exhibition, ‘Marilyn in Canada’, at the McMichael, Toronto.

Marilyn in Canada: Red, White and Blonde

Shop window, Niagara, CA – photo by Alexandre Meadu

Peter Goddard has reviewed ‘Life as a Legend’ and ‘Marilyn in Canada’, both now showing at Toronto’s The McMichael.

‘Norma Jeane Baker was naked, not yet “a nude,” in posing for Kelley. Her pale arms are outstretched behind her head, thrusting out her breasts. Elsewhere her arms are reaching up and above her head to elongate her languid body shape. Her face suggests a post-coital glow. Her ruby red lips are parted ever so slightly, as are her brilliantly white teeth, to suggest the pleasure she feels, not the pleasure she was determined to elicit in the viewer’s gaze.

This was Norma Jeane on the cusp of developing the Monroe look, the chilly hauteur killer stare the actress brought to each studio-sanctioned headshot, her eyes looking zoned out, her hair off her forehead except for a well-placed curl. (Only Mel Ramos, king of the pin-up drawings, ever imagined Monroe as happy.)

My uncertainty about the enormity of raw anger in this look, found everywhere in the show, led me to contact Natalka Husar, the talented Toronto painter and art teacher whose own work has led to her portraying rebellious and often fierce young women.

“MM as a mask of anger makes me think of de Kooning’s women, ferocious yet bombshells,” Husar replied in an email. Monroe’s red lips, “usually open and supposedly a come-on, really seem to be saying f-off. There’s attitude masking a pain.” ‘

Read this article in full at the Toronto Star

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Wild Strawberries: ‘Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe’

‘Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe’ was originally released in 1993 in an EP by Canadian indie band Wild Strawberries. The track can also be heard on their 1995 album, Bet You Think I’m Lonely.

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Booker T is playing on the radio
Jimmy Dean he plays on my mind
Someday soon I'm gonna' wipe your filthy boots
When I expose you
You Philistine, your Philistine eyes
You can take your five and dime
Shove it in your Elvis records
You can send your valentines
To your very own life sized Marilyn Monroe
You keep singing everyday's the fourth of July
I keep wondering why
I don't know how I ever met you,
Don't know why I can't forget the way you tease me
You Philistine, your Philistine eyes
You better stop calling
Kicking my love around
I don't care if you're another Rudolph Valentino
I don't care if you're the marrying kind
You better stop calling
For my love

‘Marilyn in Canada’ Exhibit

Marilyn visited Canada at least three times: as 18 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty, in 1944; and while filming two of her movies, Niagara (1952) and River of No Return (made in 1953, released ’54.)

In February 2011, the touring Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend exhibit arrives in Ontario. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection are also curating ‘Marilyn in Canada’, featuring photos by John Vachon and George S. Zimbel (taken in New York City during filming of The Seven Year Itch), as well as contemporary Canadian art inspired by Marilyn.

During the long ‘Family Weekend’ of February 19-21, the exhibition opens with guided tours, films and music along with special programming every day based on these shows.

I hope that photographer Jock Carroll, whose book, Falling for Marilyn, chronicled her time in Niagara, will also be featured.

‘Some Like it Hot’ in Toronto


Some Like it Hot seems to be very popular this month – maybe it’s an end-of-summer thing…

“Riverdale Park is getting hot on Sunday.

Movies in the Park present a free screening of ‘Some Like It Hot’ starring Marilyn Monroe on Sunday, Aug. 22.

The movie screens in Riverdale Park East at 8:45 p.m.

People are encouraged to come out with a picnic, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the event with their friends, families and neighbours.

Each movie night supports a local charity; Sunday’s movie supports the Toronto Kiwanis Boys and Girls Clubs in Regent Park.

Riverdale Park East is located at 550 Broadview Ave., south of Danforth Avenue.”

Inside Toronto