‘ONE IN A MIL­LION’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - ARTS -

If this is Au­gust, it must be Elvis. And if it’s the week for all things Pres­ley in Mem­phis, it’s also the oc­ca­sion for the third ex­hi­bi­tion at L Ross Gallery de­voted to orig­i­nal art­works about The King. “One in a Mil­lion” con­sists of 46 pieces ex­e­cuted in a dizzy­ing ar­ray of styles and medi­ums, on dis­play through Aug. 27.

I will con­fess that I hied my­self to the gallery with a cer­tain sense of fore­bod­ing. (Elvis again! Please, no!) I will also con­fess that I am among those who be­lieve that af­ter Elvis sold him­self to the twin devils of Col. Parker and RCA, he be­came ir­rel­e­vant mu­si­cally and cul­tur­ally. Briefly the em­bod­i­ment of the sex­i­ness and dan­ger of raw rock and roll, he be­came a pop singer, an en­ter­tainer, an “ac­tor” in a se­ries of re­ally silly bad movies. I moved on, but he didn’t, and then he died, trapped for­ever, it seems, in the mem­o­ryscrubbed realm of nos­tal­gia.

Still, every time I at­tend one of these ex­hi­bi­tions at L Ross Gallery, I am struck by the se­ri­ous­ness with which most of the artists in­volved

ap­proach their task. Although the op­por­tu­ni­ties for par­ody might seem rife — fat Elvis, drugged­out Elvis — the artists in this show re­veal, pri­mar­ily, a re­spect­ful at­ti­tude, while for­ays into satire are mainly gen­tle and di­rected not at the singer him­self but at the sen­ti­ments and fan­dom he in­spired. The gallery serves not as a shrine, ex­actly — the show is too col­or­ful and ex­u­ber­ant for that — but it’s a wor­thy trib­ute dur­ing a week in which the term “trib­ute artists” im­plies some­thing en­tirely dif­fer­ent.

Among the rev­er­ent, ap­pre­cia­tive and beau­ti­fully done por­traits on view are “Elvis Rid­ing Ris­ing Sun,” by Les­lie Bar­ron; “The King of Sun Stu­dio,” by Suzanne Mccourt; Nathan Gregg Chadwick, “Elvis Pres­ley (Sus­pi­cion),” oil on linen, 36-by-36 inches. From “One in a Mil­lion” at L Ross Gallery. Alan Yoakum’s un­ti­tled re­verse-neg­a­tive silk screen; and Matthew Hasty’s 60-by-48-inch “Velvis Lives,” an oil-on­vel­vet paint­ing that suc­ceeds in rais­ing a work on vel­vet to high art. Hasty also con­trib­utes a spo­ton “Good­night Jun­gle Room,” and if he’s not care­ful, he may have to give up the land­scape paint­ing for which he is well-known and turn to all Elvis all the time.

Two con­trast­ing por­traits of­fer views of Pres­ley that seem to

en­com­pass the poles of his cul­tural in­flu­ence and icon sta­tus. The boun­ti­fully tal­ented Kurt Meer re­turns with an­other small oil-on-panel de­pic­tion of the singer from his early days, his face, both beau­ti­ful and va­cant, in­tact, his hair po­maded into a pom­padour like a liv­ing thing, cast­ing its own high­lights, all cen­ter­ing on feel­ings of peace and sad­ness. It’s as close to saint­hood as a por­trait of Elvis gets. Gregg Chadwick takes the op­po­site stance in the oil-on-linen “Elvis Pres­ley (Sus­pi­cion).” Here, a fa­mil­iar de­pic­tion of the singer is ren­dered in blurry, shad­owy lines, as if his mem­ory is slowly fad­ing and be­com­ing the stuff of ru­mor and le­gend tend­ing to­ward obliv­ion.

All is not por­trai­ture,

though. Two pieces in­volve blue suede shoes. Many in­cor­po­rate ren­di­tions of im­ages taken through­out Elvis’ life, as in Lisa Weiss’ se­ries of nine “Elvis Post­cards.” Jeni Stallings of­fers a small, sub­tly done “Priscilla and Elvis Cake,” show­ing the cou­ple at their wed­ding re­cep­tion, while Niles Wal­lace uses glazed stoneware to turn Elvis’ hair into a pow­er­ful ab­stract en­tity in “E Hair.”

Ap­par­ently, in other words, the cre­ative ap­proaches and in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the King and his mul­ti­ple guises and per­son­al­i­ties re­main in­fi­nite and end­less. He is like the trick­ster of folk­lore, al­ways present but tan­ta­liz­ingly out of reach, elud­ing all ef­forts to pin him down to one as­pect. Chris­tian Brothers Univer­sity Plough Li­brary (Bev­erly & Sam Ross Gallery), 650 East Park­way S.: “Ha­pax Le­gom­ena: Re­cent Art­work by Cory Du­gan” in Main Gallery and “Seek­ing Sal­va­tion: Pho­to­graphs by Paul Clarke” in Gallery Foyer. Both through Oct. 12. Open­ing re­cep­tion 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fri­day. 901-321-3432. Dixon Gallery and Gar­dens, 4339 Park Ave.: “Fold”: Mary Jo Karimnia, Sun­day through Oct. 16. Em­broi­dery and prints on vin­tage fab­rics and seed­beaded pan­els of anony­mous cos­tumed fig­ures. 901-761-5250. dixon.org Levy Gallery (Buck­man Arts Cen­ter at St. Mary’s School), 60 Perkins Ext.: Angi Cooper and Janet Weed Beaver: “Side by Side,” through Sept. 19. Open­ing re­cep­tion 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fri­day. New works (paintings). Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day or one hour prior to per­for­mance. 901-537-1483. Mem­phis Col­lege of Art, 1930 Po­plar Ave. (Over­ton Park): Jef­frey Hodges: “Pri­mal Ri­tu­als” (large-scale pointil­lism paintings) in Rust Hall Alumni Gallery and “Horn Is­land 32” in Rust Hall Main Gallery. Both open Mon­day through Sept. 30. Re­cep­tion for both ex­hibits, 5:308:30 p.m. Aug. 27. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. week­days; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Satur­day; noon-4 p.m. Sun­day. 901-272-5100. mca.edu Na­tional Or­na­men­tal Metal Mu­seum, 374 Metal Mu­seum Drive: “Iron for Hon­ors,” Sun­day through Nov. 6. Re­cep­tion 5-8 p.m. Sept. 1. Thirty-eight pieces of Euro­pean cast-iron jewelry from the col­lec­tion of the Birm­ing­ham Mu­seum of Art. Cu­rated by Dr. Anne Forschler-tar­rasch. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues­day through Satur­day, noon-5 p.m. Sun­day; closed Mon­days. 901-774-6380. metal­mu­seum.org Sal­va­tion Army Kroc Cen­ter of Mem­phis (Ju­nior League of Mem­phis Art Hall), 800 East Park­way S.: Artists Carl Moore and David Lynch re­cep­tion, 1:30 p.m. Sun­day (30 per­cent of all pur­chases ben­e­fit The Sal­va­tion Army’s pro­grams). Ex­hibit runs through Sept. 12. 901-729-8007. krocmem­phis.org

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