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Marilyn Monroe’s iconic pose in front of Stamford church draws mixed reactions
Updated 1:07 pm, Friday, June 8, 2018
Photo: Michael Cummo / Hearst Connecticut Media
STAMFORD — It’s a jarring sight for members of the First Congregational Church: The underwear-clad buttocks of Marilyn Monroe mooning the downtown parish.
A 26-foot Seward Johnson statue illustrating the star in her iconic pose from “The Seven Year Itch” was installed this week in Latham Park as part of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District’s “Art in Public Places” series that lasts through the summer.
But much like the subway grate stirred up her skirt, Monroe has created a whirlwind in just a few days in Stamford.
Lorri Tamburro, a lifelong Stamford resident, was disturbed when she visited the statue with her husband and watched children climbing up Monroe’s leg and looking up her 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.”
Tamburro isn’t the only one disturbed by the pose. City officials said they’ve received a handful of phone calls about the statue and social media has been abuzz with reactions, mostly about its placement in front of the Walton Place church.
On Thursday night, The Avon Theatre, which sponsored the statue’s installation, held a screening of the film that made the pose famous. Some 100 residents and civic leaders descended on the park for bruschetta and rose as the sun started to set on the massive woman, including several men who flitted behind the statue for photos from a different vantage point.
Even young children were drawn to the statue, using her base and legs as a playground and sat eating snacks below her billowing dress.
Alan Kalter, who gained fame as the announcer for “Late Night with David Letterman,” praised the artwork as he attended Thursday’s event.
“If art is supposed to create talk,” Kalter said, “well, they’re talking.”
Monroe has already been attracting people downtown. Marilyn Lodato, of Shelton, noticed the statue while in Stamford for work. Lodato is not only a big Monroe fan, she was also named after her.
“This is an iconic pose,” she said. “This art is incredibly well done from the details on her toenails to the shoes. I don’t think that it’s so offensive...I think it honors her.”
Lodato said she knows “every tidbit” about the pop culture icon who, despite her glamorous image, was plagued by depression, substance abuse and anxiety before committing suicide at age 36. Still, Lodato said the actress would be pleased by the sculpture.
“She would love it,” she said. “I think she would adore it.”
Rev. Todd Yonkman, senior minister at the First Congregational Church, was away this week and could not be reached for comment.
Pam Riley, a longtime member of the First Congregational Church, said she didn’t even look at the statue when it went up on Monday.
“It’s disrespectful to the church,” Riley said. “Her skirt is up in the air and everyone’s under there looking up her skirt.”
Like Tamburro, Riley said the statue would be less offensive if it wasn’t in front of the church.
But some of her fellow congregants were less bothered by the pose and its location.
“It’s wonderful for Stamford and Bedford Street,” First Congregational member Jean Meyer said. “We’re lucky to have that statue. You’re going to have different opinions on it, but you have to have a sense of humor.”
Another First Congregational member, Michael Dagostino, said he preferred the pine tree that once stood there and was a focal point of the city’s Christmas decorations.
“To me, it looks beautiful,” Dagostino said. “If God had something to say, he probably would’ve sent a bolt through it.”
Stamford residents have complained about the statue replacing the Christmas tree. However, according to Stamford DSSD President Sandy Goldstein, the tree was not cut down to accommodate the statue. She said the tree was removed last month after it died of disease.
“It was supposed to be a very hardy, strong, wonderful tree and it came in a little sickly looking, and within a month right after, even during the time the lights were on, it started to die,” Goldstein said. “It just turned brown and was dead.”
Goldstein said the DSSD will purchase a new tree for the holiday season. She said if the former tree did not need to be cut down, the Monroe statue would have been placed in a different park.
Staff writer Barry Lytton contributed to this story.
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LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
Modified by TEEBONE at Sat, Jun 09, 2018, 11:23:58
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