“I Created a Show”: Good and Lovely Marilyn

“I Created a Show”: Good and Lovely Marilyn

Good and Lovely Marilyn: Portraying one of the most iconic images of attraction in American Culture.

Whenever Candace Lovely talks of any of the pieces in her iconic Good and Lovely signature collection, she either begins with or emphasizes that phrase – “I created a show.”

It’s nearly subconscious at this stage of her career, as she refers to something that has evolved into a prolific portion of her portfolio, much of the heart and soul of her art, and an influential part of the history of her body of work.

But there’s an underlying double entendre in the statement. She means it literally – referring to a 2001 gallery show where she introduced the first pieces of what would become a life’s work over the years. But the tie-in of those words to her passion behind this collection – one that’s immersed in ‘the element of attraction” – is an easy connection to make: She set out to fill a gallery show and ended up creating an ongoing category of creativity that would become one of the most defining areas of her voice as an artist.

  • She created a show – a literal gallery showing in 2001 where she introduced both concept and early collection to rave reviews.
  • She created a show – a ripple of noise, making much ado about “what attraction is – how it feels, what it’s made of, why it attracts us.”
  • She created a show – a central identifier of this part of the artist’s heart, style, voice, and interests, that’s still unraveling today, twenty-one years after it began.

In this piece, she also created a show in which she’s the star – or a co-star, paying homage to American icon, sweetheart, and legend Marilyn Monroe – because if you study the features closely enough, you’ll notice the trademarks are Marilyn, but the features are the artist herself, Candace Whittemore Lovely. 

Everything is there – the hair, the beauty mark, the dress, which Lovely made herself, off-canvas. But these are mere visual representations of an idea – a person yes, but an idea larger than the individual. Attraction. Fame. Magnetism. As Lovely says, “light, sex” and someone we perceive “with great joy.” Lovely describes wanting viewers to “explore why we remember what we remember, what has lasting influence, and how to decide what we should be collecting.”

Of all the pieces in the original collection, Marilyn inarguably translates the fundamental keyword of “attraction” most literally. Fitting in amongst other paintings’ subjects – historic flags, the comforts of home and (wo)man’s best friend(s), celebrities – Marilyn fits into the latter. But more, she led the parade, resonating as the “perfect symbol” of what the artist was after when she formulated the concept of Good and Lovely. Marilyn was the ping off the bat of a homerun hit in the artist’s soul-search over what were the biggest cultural attractions in our history.

When it came to the pinnacle starlet, all the stories of attraction where there and were immersed inextricably in an inventory of visuals. The blonde pin curls. The beauty mark. The white halter dress with the plunging neckline. The red lip, lashes, and sultry look that launched a thousand sighs and about as many box office bonanzas.

Marilyn is an artistic part of all who have lived in this century, and on this canvas she’s inseparably Candace. The artist stepped into her own “show” intentions and became the attraction – merged with the Good and Lovely concept – blurred with what we know and love, and expressed her own love for the ideal of all Marilyn embodied.

It’s a beautiful thing – again figurative and literal: A cosmetic beauty that became the symbol of perfection, and a heart-strung beauty we all carry for nostalgia, cultural icons, the uniqueness of people, cinema and stars of the golden era. This is a piece you step back from and take in differently after you hear the artist’s heart. You take it in mixed with your own memories and attractions – and you take it in bonding with the artist when you realize there is “Lovely” is in this Good and Lovely.

Another phrase you hear the artist repeat more frequently than “I created a show” is “I told you a story.” She refers to art as “poetry and science” and has more than once said, “if I could write I would; instead I tell stories in paint.” Here, in Good and Lovely Marilyn, she has done both.

She created a show…
that told a story…
and stepped subtly into the spotlight to tell it from a self-portrait point of view.

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