Unveiling for ‘Forever Marilyn’ set for June 20 at 7 p.m.
PALM SPRINGS — This city’s on-again, off-again love affair with Marilyn Monroe — or, at least, the 26-foot statue of her — is on again and appears to be, well, perhaps forever. The Seward Johnson “Forever Marilyn” sculpture that visited the city from 2012 to 2014 will be installed at her new home – the corner of Museum Way and Belardo Road.
A public unveiling of the artwork is scheduled for Sunday, June 20, at 7 p.m. at the corner of Museum Way and Belardo Road.
She will be installed onto a platform using a 60-ton crane, with legs and skirt at the base, and following that, the torso and head will be lifted and secured into place. She weighs in at 24,000 lbs.
“Forever Marilyn” – inspired by the famous moment when Marilyn Monroe appeared with her white dress billowing aloft – made her initial Palm Springs debut on May 14, 2012 for a 2-year exhibit. The sculpture was described as a ‘tourism phenomenon’ during its first placement in downtown Palm Springs, attracting a steady stream of visitors daily and generating millions of dollars in local retail sales and media coverage in support of Palm Springs’ No. 1 industry – tourism.
“She really put Palm Springs on the map worldwide,” said Aftab Dada, the chairman of P.S. Resorts. “Her return will complement the many other attractions and events that draw so many visitors to Palm Springs each year. Marilyn Monroe’s connection to Palm Springs is legendary, so it’s a natural fit to have her here tying into our community’s long and rich history as an escape for some of Hollywood’s most iconic personalities.”
“Marilyn Monroe is a Hollywood icon with a wonderful history in Palm Springs that we are excited to celebrate with residents and visitors alike,” said Mayor Christy Holstege. “We are delighted to welcome this free and fun attraction to the newly revitalized downtown – and we invite everyone to come experience the magic of “Forever Marilyn.”
“The return of “Forever Marilyn” will be a huge economic boost to our small businesses, who have experienced a challenging year and a half due to COVID restrictions,” said City Councilmember Geoff Kors, who serves as liaison to the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce and other business and tourism organizations. “The City Council is doing everything we can to support our local businesses on the road to recovery and we are excited to partner with P.S. Resorts to return Marilyn back to downtown Palm Springs.”
In 1949, at age 22, Marilyn was “discovered” in Palm Springs at Charlie Farrell’s Racquet Club by William Morris talent agent, Johnny Hyde. Many famous photos of Marilyn were taken around the Racquet Club’s swimming pool. In the 1950s, she was a regular visitor to Palm Springs with her husband, baseball luminary Joe DiMaggio.
With his Icons Revisited series, sculptor Seward Johnson captures images that have held their impact over generations, becoming embedded in our collective subconscious. This series asks the viewer to consider why certain images stay with us, and how their meaning changes over time. As always, the artist encourages the dialogue that public art should inspire, inviting varied interpretations and opinions. “Forever Marilyn” epitomizes fame. God Bless America, an homage to Grant Wood’s American Gothic, allows us to take a closer look at the couple, head to toe, well beyond Wood’s canvas. And his re-envisioning of the Mona Lisa brings forward many new perspectives.
Johnson’s “Forever Marilyn” made its debut in Chicago in 2011, and since then, has been exhibited in China and Australia and featured in international media stories including coverage by The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The Washington Post as well as MSNBC, ABC, CBS and media outlets in France, India, Italy, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.
After it left Palm Springs in 2014, it toured other cities. During its run, the statue evoked strong opinions, from those who loved the Insta-friendly giant and those who hated it.
L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight wrote in 2014: “Good news out of Palm Springs this week: Work has begun on dismantling ‘Forever Marilyn,’ the grotesque colossus fabricated with typical ham-handedness by sculptor J. Seward Johnson, which has been marring an already vacant lot at a prominent downtown corner for the last two years.”
Today, the “Forever Marilyn” exhibit in Palm Springs is made possible by P.S. Resorts along with a number of private contributors and community sponsors.
A public unveiling of the artwork is scheduled for Sunday, June 20, at 7 p.m. at the corner of Museum Way and Belardo Road. For more information, click here, or follow the exhibit on Facebook at Facebook.com/PalmSpringsForeverMarilyn.
- Forever Marilyn sculpture: Facebook
- Marilyn Monroe: Shutterstock