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Some like it not: Marilyn Monroe statue has church venting

This Thursday, June 7, 2018 photo shows Seward Johnson's "Forever Marilyn" sculpture in Latham Park in Stamford, Conn. The 26-foot statue that was newly installed in the park is scandalizing some because her rear end is facing the entrance of the First Congregational Church. (Michael Cummo/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Marilyn Monroe’s rear is getting some leers in Connecticut.

A 26-foot statue of the actress has been placed in a Stamford park across the street from a church, which is getting a full view of her behind. It depicts the famous scene from 1955’s “The Seven Year Itch” where Monroe holds down her white dress as air blows up from a subway grate.

The back of the statue showing her underwear is clearly visible from the front of the First Congregational Church of Stamford. Some passersby this week said it was disrespectful to the church.

Most church members have yet to see the statue because it was put up Monday as part of a citywide art display. But it is sure to spark conversation when they return for Sunday worship, said church member Maureen Matthews.

“I think some people will be offended,” said Matthews, who is not bothered by the statue. “It is silly. There are bigger issues to worry about. But I’ll be interested to see how people talk about it on Sunday.”

“Forever Marilyn” is one of 36 statues by artist Seward Johnson that are on loan and on display in the downtown area through the summer. They’re part of the city’s annual “Art in Public Spaces” program. All the statues except Marilyn are life-size and depict people doing everyday activities.

City resident Lorri Tamburro told The Advocate newspaper that she found it disturbing to see children climbing on the statue’s leg and looking up the skirt.

“I just find the position to be offensive,” she said. “It was, in my eyes, very disrespectful. I looked at it and I think because of what I saw with all these little kids looking up, the height is ruining it. It’s ruining beautiful Marilyn.”

The response to Marilyn and the other statues has been overwhelmingly positive, said Sandy Goldstein, president of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, which is hosting the exhibit along with sponsors including real estate finance firm UC Funds.

Goldstein noted there are many nude statues outdoors in Europe — and near churches — that are accepted by the public.

“It is art and we don’t believe it is offensive,” she said. “We absolutely mean no disrespect to the church.”

The Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman, pastor of the First Congregational Church, has a sense of humor about the statue, but said it was an odd artistic choice.

“The issue is, Why that statue,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “Marilyn Monroe was an artist deserving our respect. Why appropriate her image in this way. Is this the best we can do?”

He said he heard Monroe’s husband at the time of “The Seven Year Itch,” baseball star Joe DiMaggio, was uncomfortable with her shooting the subway vent scene.

“Maybe the city would let us give her some pants?” Yonkman said.

(David Collins writes for The Associated Press)

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33 Comments

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  • “[The statue Forever Marilyn is a] creepy schlock from a fifth-rate sculptor that blights a first-rate public art collection.”
    – Abraham Ritchie, Art Chicago Blog.

    “[The bronze statue Playmates is] the worst sort of kitsch.”
    – Sam Hunter, Art Professor, Princeton University.

    ‘Nuff said. & moving on.

    Source: (1) Daily Mail, October 2011, “The only reason to keep the tacky Marilyn Monroe statue? She protects from the rain”. (2) Cable Neuhaus and Greg Walter, “Cast in Bronze and Controversy, Sculptor J. Seward Johnson’s Works Find No Haven in New Haven”, People, March 26, 1984.

  • This whole article is a lie. When written, the congregation hadn’t even seen the statue across the street. Just a quote from the rector and another member who was there during the week. It’s a United Church of Christ congregation. They are very open minded folks, the majority of them won’t give a hoot.

    Fake News.

  • nah – it’s not a lie. You just read the article too fast. They already covered in paragraph 3 that it was erected on a Monday and that most church goers HAVE NOT yet seen it.

  • “The issue is, Why that statue,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “Marilyn Monroe was an artist deserving our respect. Why appropriate her image in this way. Is this the best we can do?” This is probably THE MOST iconic image of her. If you know nothing about Monroe, you probably still know this vent-blown skirt Monroe.

  • oh please – any person who has a problem with seeing flesh ought to see a mental doctor. Go to Rome and The Vatican and it’s nudes, nudes, nudes. For goodness sakes – stay home and in bed if you are such a sensitive soul.

  • Well, I’d like to register a complaint, not about the statue, but about the report. In deference to your international readers, the height should also be reported in metres. That 26 foot statue is about 7.9 metres (or meters) tall, and that’s the way you should report it.

    The height of that statue is almost as much as the sea level will rise if all the ice in Greenland melts. Of course, if the Antarctic ice cap melts, the sea level will rise about 60 metres or about 197 feet. If that happens, the statue will be the least of our worries.

  • As I said, climate change cultists never miss an opportunity.

    You may find a more gullible acolyte elsewhere.

  • No, “Bob Arnzen”. Science is not a cult. The cult here that seizes every opportunity to combat facts and reality is your religion.

  • No, “Bob Arnzen”. Science is not a cult, and climate change is grounded in evidence.

    The cult here that seizes every
    opportunity to combat facts and reality is your religion.

  • Speaking of “height”, religious nuts like “Bob Arnzen” are the height of gullibility.

  • I have no problem with flesh, but a 6’X10′ pair of marble panties with a reinforced crotch? I don’t find it offensive so much as silly. Kitsch is kitsch.

  • Well, aside from her naked, overdosed corpse lying in bed, yes, that is probably her most iconic image. Marilyn Monroe was a sad, exploited human being who spent her life trying in vain to be taken seriously as a person and as an artist. I’m not offended by the statue but I take no pleasure from it either. It simply perpetuates an joyless myth.

  • The solution is obvious. Set her on a spinning pedestal. That way hr rear end will face (appropriate word?) in all directions, proving that all Americans are equal, and preserving religious liberty to boot.

  • Since when do people need grounds to complain? Bitching about what other people do is as American as apple pie. In this case, though, they’ve jumped the gun a tad. I doubt the church people will be any more upset than anyone else.

  • The headline is inaccurate, the article seems okay, although for context they probably should have mentioned it’s a liberal congregation.

  • Must be that deep state again. Which will be even deeper if we do nothing about global warming.

  • You do realize that I think your entire shtick is absurd, right?

    The sea level has been going up and down at least 400 feet for the last 1.5 million years.

    That’s how mankind and a good part of the fauna in North America arrived from Asia.

  • Since no one knows why the temperature is rising, the entire deal being built on a few data points, a computer model, and the entire scientific community actually working in this area consisting of just over 10,000 most of whom work in areas which would not qualify them to opine as experts on either the causes or cures – if any – of climate change, and since I know for certain you are not one of them, I suppose I am just going to have to do what the rest of the flora and fauna have been doing for hundreds of thousands even millions of years – live with it.

  • Just to be clear, “the entire scientific community” does not endorse your cultic belief.

    I always enjoy reading nonsense like that.

    With perhaps 10-11,000 individuals in the world who are in any way atmospheric scientists, I read things like something I saw yesterday “20,000 scientists believe in climate change”.

    What are the other 10,000 scientists, biologists?

    If all the scientists jump off a building, would you?

    The only question is whether there is incontrovertible proof for a particular explanation for a changing climate. The answer is clearly “no”.

    But don’t let that stop you from gasping for breath and putting your house on 300 metre pylons.

  • Oh Bob, you’re wonderful. Now do the conversion into feet to discover how ridiculous your last piece of advice is.

  • Once again you’ve fixated on a topic with your OCD and won’t take “no” for an answer.

    I’ll give both of us a break – you’re blocked.

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