By Denise Ortuno Neil
If you haven’t checked out the gorgeous Amazon like blonde with her white dress in the air on the corner of Tahquitz and Palm Canyon in Palm Springs, you might want to get your gears going and head on down to down town Palm Springs. No, it’s not some flirty girl on Spring Break, but rather the iconic 26 ft. sculptor of the blonde bombshell herself, Marilyn Monroe.
The awe inspiring Seward Johnson sculpture (www.sewardjohnson.com), Forever Marilyn, has been on display on the famous Palm Springs strip since May 2012. She was supposed to stay only until June of this year, but her departure has received a reprieve and she will stay here in the Coachella Valley through mid-November.
The sculpture, part of Johnsons Icon Revisited Series, was first debuted in Chicago in July of 2011 before making its way to beautiful Palm Springs. The humungous work of art was inspired by Bernard of Hollywood’s 1955 photo of the actress taken on the set of “The Seven Year Itch”.
The Forever Marilyn sculpture was brought to Palm Springs in association with the PS Resorts organization, which is a non-profit group of local hoteliers dedicated to promote tourism in the area through creative ventures, such as bringing a 34,000 lb. sculpture to downtown Palm Springs. The idea was a success, bringing in tourists and locals alike to check out the larger than life Marilyn.
People traveled from near and not so near just to be in the shadow of the art. It’s an oddity to stand in her vicinity without seeing a multitude of people having their picture taken with her. For fans of Marilyn, it’s a dream come true, an exaggerated stand in to being next to the real star.
It is on par for the Marilyn sculpture to be visiting Palm Springs, as the shinning start spent a great deal of time here as well as being discovered under our desert skies. Back in 1947, the budding starlet was being photographed by Bruno Bernard (who later snapped “The Seven Year Itch” photo) at the popular Racquet Club, when she caught the eye of Johnny Hyde, VP of the William Morris Agency. He ended up representing the now legend, cementing her first speaking role in “The Asphalt Jungle” and the rest as they say, is history.
The sculpture is on loan to Palm Springs through the charitable organization, The Sculpture Foundation (www.sculpturefoundation.org). The foundation is educational in nature and provides cities with public artwork to enhance their communities.
The Forever Marilyn sculpture stands proud on the corner of Tahquitz and Palm Canyon, in the same named park. The area formally housed a bank, long torn down. Marilyn has certainly given the spot new life, and measurably more aesthetically appealing.
There has been several events that have taken place at the park with Marilyn in the spotlight, such as last summers “Movies with Marilyn”, which showed movies that starred the bountiful beauty. Movies ranged from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” to “Some Like it Hot” and the movie which inspired the sculpture, “The Seven Year Itch”.
The sculpture has also been the springboard for other events including this past springs tribute to Marilyn with a series of events in celebration of what would have been her 87th birthday. There was also the “Forever Marilyn Look-a-Like contest” and the upcoming “Farewell Concert” that will take place Saturday, September 7th from 7:30pm to 9pm.
The concert has dual duty, serving as an end of summer celebration and a good-bye to the giant sculpture that has graced Palm Springs for well over a year. The concert will entertain featuring two tribute bands, “Catch a Wave” which is a Beach Boys tribute band and “Paperback Writer” which covers Beatles songs. The concert is free and the public is encouraged to bring chairs and blankets for their comfort, all that’s needed to enjoy the tunes underneath the gaze of Marilyn’s awesomeness.
The sculpture will still remain in Palm Springs until mid-November, after that Marilyn will make her way back east to Hamilton New Jersey, where she, along with other works of art by Seward Johnson will be part of a lifetime retrospective for the artist at the 42 acre Grounds for Sculpture Park.
And what will take Marilyn’s spot in Palm Springs? Well everyone knows that nothing could take her place, and actually nothing will, not as artwork goes anyway. The area will be absorbed by the new Wessman Development project that is slated to resurrect the now demolished Desert Fashion Plaza site later next year.
The Forever Marilyn Sculpture is truly amazing. As Executive Director of P.S. Resorts Nadine Koehler said, “We were lucky to have her for so long”. It really does warrant a trip downtown to see her if you haven’t already. Honestly, even if you have, go see her again if you can, hang out downtown and bask in all of her glory for a while, because unlike the sculptures title, it will not be in Palm Springs forever.
For more information visit www.PalmSpringsForeverMarilyn.com