The Burchfield Penney Art Center, fresh off its announcement of a major permanent outdoor art installation, will open a series of new exhibitions on Friday as part of its monthly M&T Second Fridays program.
Perhaps the most alluring of these is “Marilyn,” a collection of photographs of Marilyn Monroe by former Fort Erie resident Douglas Kirkland, who photographed the famed actress at the height of her popularity about a year before her death in 1962. Kirkland’s shots of Monroe splayed out on white bedsheets and looking knowingly into the camera show her as the very definition of photogenic.
The session, according to Kirkland’s recollection in a Burchfield Penney release, was fraught with sexual tension.
“Yes, she proposed my getting into bed with her, and what red-blooded young man wouldn’t?” Kirkland said. “The exception was I had a wife and two kids back home, and I grew up going to Sunday school, and something just stopped me.”
Kirkland’s brief run-in with Monroe was only a small blip on his wide-ranging career, which included a long stint on the staff of Life magazine. He has photographed Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland and dozens of others, and has published many books, including “James Cameron’s Titanic,” “Freeze Frame” and “Coco Chanel: Three Weeks.”
An exhibition featuring recently acquired work by painter Andrew Topolski, who died in 2008 after a long and prolific career, will open Friday as well. The show, called “Enjambment,” “explores the artist’s systematic process of reinterpreting symbols of various disciplines” and his pieces act as windows into his “social, political and creative philosophy.”
Also opening is “Illusion/Delusion,” an installation by longtime Buffalo artist Ben Perrone that memorializes American soldiers who died in the war in Iraq. The piece, a 28-foot-tall “inverted temple,” is made of black bags constructed in a pyramid form meant to evoke the burial traditions of the modern American military and ancient Egypt.
Although already on view, “Disclosure: Women of the Burchfield Penney Collection,” a female-focused look at Western New York art history organized by Alana Ryder, will have its official opening celebration this weekend. Finally, “Odyssey,” work by the collective iXpress – local artists with developmental disabilities working through the local agency Aspire – goes on view Friday in the museum’s Community Gallery.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, the Buffalo Chamber Players will perform “Odyssey,” original music written in collaboration with members of iXpress that celebrates each artist’s unique journey through life.
Friday’s celebration will also feature a lecture from Kirkland at 5:30 p.m. and a hands-on workshop for kids in the Burchfield Penney’s Useum space from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.