By J. Everett

Ah, the hound-dog days of August in Memphis. Heat, mosquitoes, music, and Elvis Week…and all the fans that come to keep the pop-phenomenon’s flame ablaze.  At Gallery Fifty Six one artist pays tribute to the hungry musicians who were turned loose on the insatiable public, while two other artists’ feature the fans who will never let them go.

Michael Whitaker’s objective lens captures the individuals who make up the masses that refuse to forget the King. Whitaker explains, “After a twenty-five-year career in social psychology documenting some of the most disturbing human behaviors…I pursued a second career in fine art and documentary photography, documenting brighter aspects of human nature…spotlighting unpretentious persons with gentle spirits who traditionally go unnoticed.” Beginning on the 25th anniversary of Presley’s death, Whitaker spent two years documenting the Elvis phenomenon, intrigued by “the extraordinary manner in which fan devotion continues to grow across generations extending from those who first experienced Elvis in 1954 to those unborn at the time of Elvis’ death.” He adds, “Along the way I interacted with hundreds of persons who readily articulated the impact Elvis had upon their lives… ensuring the legacy of Elvis will remain on the road to forever.”

Pop-music inspired graffiti grabbed the attention of M.J. Reeves. She turned her camera lens toward concrete walls to give us glimpses of sentiments so heart-felt that the words had to be written for all to see. Her photographs are mounted on tiles bringing the illusion of real walls into the gallery.

Then, to really turn up the heat, Jeannie Reynold’s oil paintings (on canvas and guitars) evoke memories of a sexy, mellow voice on vinyl. In vivid colors she captures the energy and expressions of a certain sensuous singer leaving us all to plead, “Turn-ma-loose!”

The public is invited to the artists’ reception on Friday, August 6 from 5-8pm, at Gallery Fifty Six, 2256 Central Avenue. Turn-ma-loose runs through the month of August, Tuesday-Saturdays from 10am-5pm. For more information, call (901) 276-1251 or go online to galleryfiftysix.com.


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