Friday, March 21, 2014

"Cinema! Take II" by Mary Wickentower

For some reasons, I missed the first release of Mary Wickentower's Cinema! SIM at LEA.
It has been a bad fault, since I'm dealing with the attempt to build a broad view of the way of representing America in SL, through my photograph series Americana, posted on Flickr.
Now, Mary rebuilt the SIM at LEA6 (run visiting it: it will be gone after March 31st!) and I could have the pleasure to visit one of the most amazing examples of the chances SL offers to represent pages of history, culture and social life.
Cinema!, despite its name, is actually something more than a celebration of the Seventh Art: it is an overview of a whole chapter of the history of American popular culture in 20th Century, through some of its icons.

Centered on the outstanding Empire theater, the SIM is scattered with other meaningful builds depicting some key aspects of 1930s-1940s way of life: the Empire theater itself, a drive-in theater, a diner, a gas station.

Although the major focus of the entire SIM is of course cinema, diner, gas station and drive-in add other powerful examples of the typical "roadside architecture" that had spread throughout American recent history. Cars are protagonists here, from the row of old fashioned ones parked in front of the Empire building, to the huge variety of types gathered in the drive-in parking, to the diner's seats, to the gasoline pumps, tires and repair workshop of the gas station. Only a motel is lacking to complete the key symbols of this "road culture".
I won't spoil visitor's surprise talking of the dozen of pretty details we can see inside these builds. I just warmly advise to read carefully signs and logos inside the diner, to look at the drive-in's car styles, to pay attention to the wonderful collection of pin-ups' pictures that decorate the workshop walls.

I started talking of all these things, but the main building and the main subject of the SIM definitely deserve to be noticed.
The majestic bulk of the Empire Theater is an outstanding example of Art Deco architecture, with its statues, windows, friezes and lights. A huge sign shows the theater name in wonderful 1930s fonts, hallways and stairs covered by red carpets and tapestry lead to the two-storeys orchestra and to the box seats. Walking through them you can see glamorous period lamps, old movie posters, pretty corners like the bar or the art galleries that surround the main hall. This is huge like the screen where some talented SL filmmakers show their works. The Golden Age of the Hollywood movie industry has at the Empire its celebration!

I can't finish my visit without saying of the beautiful building that lays nearby the theater: built in 1940s  style, it hosts an amazing collection of sculptures from SL artists picked by Mary; it is worth a visit by itself.

I'm honored and happy to see the pics I took at the SIM exhibited in one of the theater's galleries, but I'm even happier with the plan to take the students of my classes at Visionaire Institute of Photography to a photo-tour at Cinema! When I had that idea, Mary enthusiastically agreed, offering a gallery space to show the result of the student's exercises (from March 28th).
So, in the latest days of this amazing SIM's life, I advise all art lovers to come visiting the SIM and the exhibits!

Cinema! Take II

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.