Tue, 16 Mar 1999 20:27:37 -0800
To: Lindamac-L & MACCA-L
From: Alexandra Burack
& Macca-L Do The Bruce!
A group of 13 members of the two lists, and one past member of Macca-L
were amongst the jubilant crowd at the 13th March opening day of Linda McCartney's
Sixties: Portrait of an Era exhibit at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.
(Alexandra), PR & Media Rep for the lists, organised the trip, which brought members
from as far away as Illinois, as well as from CT, MA, NY and NJ to the gala opening. The
trip participants were Andrea, Alexa, Diane, Nadine (and husband John), Martha, Doris,
Connie, Alice, Melissa, Joyce, and Kristi. Kudos are due Alexa for making beautiful
laminated badges for us with a striking photo of Linda holding a camera. Kudos also to
Diane who secured a luncheon reservation at a nearby affordable Italian restaurant.
I'd arranged with a
reporter and photographer from *The Greenwich Time* (yes, that's Time and not Times) to
meet us at the museum, and we were interviewed for quite some time before going into the
exhibit. Strangely, we were allowed to snap photos in the exhibit, as long as we didn't
aim our cameras at a specific picture, and took only 'atmospheric crowd shots'. There were
also close to half a dozen television crews wandering round with videocams throughout the
reporter and photog followed us round for the majority of our stay, and got an education
about Linda's history as a photographer, her animal rights activities, and about Beatles
history in general as well. We must have impressed the reporter significantly, as we
received fantastic coverage on the front page of the paper the next day. I'm hoping to get
the article onto the LindaMac-L homepage soon.
We were told that
Paul did not attend the Press Reception on the 11th nor the private Patron's opening on
the 12th. However, Paul did send flowers and a note, neither of which the Museum PR
Director would show us. We assumed though, that a lovely vase of lily-of-the-valley
sitting on the information desk might have been the ones that Paul sent. A rumour spread
quickly during the day that Paul would show at some point or on the 14th. Our hopes were
fueled when it was reported that a local police officer was blocking the driveway to the
museum. We later discovered this was because there were no more parking spots in the
museum lot! Alas, Paul didn't show by the time we needed to leave for our luncheon, and as
of 2.30 p.m. on Sunday, I was told he hadn't showed up either. Also, Linda's sister from
Cambridge, MA couldn't make the private opening, but knows about the exhibit and has told
museum personnel that she will attend at some point before the show closes at the Bruce.
The Sixties photos
were brought to the Bruce Museum through the diligence and foresight of a woman named
Gabriele Abbot, an independent art expert who served as Guest Curator for the show.
Andrea, Martha and I bumped into her toward the end of our stay, and she spoke to us with
great kindness and enthusiasm. She had contacted Robert Montgomery, the Executor of the
Estate of Linda McCartney over a year ago about bringing the Sixties exhibit to the Bruce.
At that point she was told there probably wouldn't be much interest in photos from that
era, and Ms. Abbott was turned down. Tragically, with Linda's death shortly after Ms.
Abbott's original enquiry, the Estate changed its mind and the Bruce was rewarded as the
first stop in the first US national tour of the Sixties photographs.
housed in a long, narrow gallery space just beyond the museum's lobby, appeared to be
arranged following the chronology of Linda's access to the best and brightest of 1960's
pop culture. The photos, encapsulating as no others the raw energy, beauty and soul that
was the 1960's, are extraordinary to behold up close and in person. As I said to a
reporter for Channel 61 who interviewed me about LindaMac-L, the photos are unique because
they have a quality of *breathing* the life they portray. There's a vibrancy and a
completeness to Linda's photos which I've seen in few others, save perhaps for those of
Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams or Cartier-Bresson.
The first photo of
the exhibit was the famous shot of Brian Jones lounging on the ship *Sea Panther*, on
which Linda managed to be the sole photographer present. It was this picture which so
impressed Brian Epstein when he saw it, that he gave Linda an invitation to the Sgt.
Pepper's launch party at his Chapel Street home in the summer of 1967. Other early
photographs include Pete Townsend about to smash his mic stand, a very young Stevie
Winwood, and contemplative Ginger Baker, as well as Grace Slick, Jim Morrison, Twiggy, Bob
Dylan, Mama Cass, Judy Collins, David Crosby, and Tim Buckley. The middle section of the
exhibit highlighted Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. It bears remembering that Linda was
perhaps one of the first, if not the first rock photographer, to capture such intense and
direct images of Jimi prior to his return to the States and eventual massive fame. There
are photos of Janis relaxing with Big Brother and the Holding Company, as well as in her
ecstatic glory onstage, and in Linda's photos we can really feel the multi-dimensional
person behind the iconographic public image.
Of course, our group
lingered longest in front of the 16 Beatles-related photos. The famous Paul-John handshake
shot from the Sgt. Pepper launch party was first in the group, and was chosen as one of
the auto-signed prints one could purchase in the museum gift shop. A shot from 1968 showed
George Martin in white shirt and dark tie with The Beatles in Studio 2, and another one
captured Paul at the control console with George Martin and Ringo looking on. One of my
personal favourites was the shot of Paul and John bent over Paul's notebook, sorting out
the song order for the second side of *Abbey Road*. There is a striking solo photo of John
from '68, in wire-rim glasses and long hair, which portrays such a quiet gentleness about
him that you can feel the vulnerability beneath the bravado surface. There's the shot used
as the cover of *The Ballad of John & Yoko*, with that endearing quirkiness of Paul's
one yellow sock, one of The Beatles relaxing on the EMI Studios front steps during the
August, 1969 *Abbey Road* cover shoot, and one of John & Yoko caught at a table during
a meeting. A simply lovely shot of Paul and John looking directly at each other follows,
taken as they sat on the studio steps the morning of the *Abbey Road* cover shoot. A
bearded wool-suited Paul leaning against a poster-covered wall in Liverpool is next, and
adjacent to it is the famous 'move-the-baby' photo, which phrase by the way, had to
explained to the newspaper photographer following us round. Above that gorgeous shot of
naked Paul with Mary is one with Paul and trusty Martha sitting on the grass in Regent's
Park. Then to the left, the stunning picture of Paul holding tiny Mary in his coat in the
As a tribute to
Linda's final work, three photographs on platinum appeared as part of the Bruce Museum
exhibit. We saw the sun print photo of Paul used on the *Flaming Pie* LP, entitled 'French
Door', a black and white shot called 'Chile Crowd', taken during Paul's 1993 World Tour,
and the gorgeous platinum print 'Stallion and Standing Stone II 1996*, used in Paul's
*Standing Stone* LP package, and featured at Linda's posthumous Wide Open exhibit in New
York last June. Completing the exhibit were the kings and queen of 60's soul, Ray Charles,
BB King, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin.
On a very small
video kiosk at the far end of the gallery, a continuous loop of the BBC/A&E
documentary 'Linda McCartney: Behind the Lens' was playing. No matter how many times I see
this, it still amazes me to watch Linda strolling those New York streets in quiet,
determined dignity with her beloved camera.
Although the Museum
did not prepare an exhibit catalogue per se, visitors could pick up a free 8 1/2 x
11" brochure, featuring a concert shot of Jimi Hendrix on the front, and selected
photos from the show inside. The brochure text, written by Gabriele Abbott, chronicles
Linda's development as a photographer as well as the heady days of the 1960's. The book
*Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era* served as the exhibit catalogue, and was
available for sale in the museum gift shop for $30.
I interviewed the
gift shop manager, Cynthia Richardson, who had gone to great effort to turn the shop into
a Beatles-themed experience in anticipation of the great crowds for Linda's show. With the
*Anthology* CDs playing in the background, I was given a tour of the display cases packed
with Beatles memorabilia, obtained on consignment from a Greenwich, CT Beatles collector
named Walter Travers. A peeled Butcher cover, in near mint condition, was going for $1400,
a copy of *The Lost Lennon Tapes, V. 25* and signed by Cynthia Lennon, was going for just
under $500 and sold by the end of the day. Numerous magazines featuring John Lennon were
on offer, as well as one copy of Beatles on Broadway, and a Musician magazine from August
1980 with Paul on the cover (the latter of which yours truly snapped up). An original
Corgi Yellow Submarine (not in the box) was offered for $400, and a Beatles album cover
bubble gum set had a price tag of $75. Of new items, a Beatles telephone in the shape of a
Liverpool double-decker bus could be had for $95, and a Beatles CD/Tape player would set
you back $325. CDs of *Wide Prairie* and *Anthology*, as well as the BOTR re-release, and
the Red & Blue CDs were also available, yet at considerably higher prices than at
chain record shops. Beatles T-shirts, which Ms. Richardson reported were selling faster
than anything else, were priced rather high to my mind, at $26 a pop. The official exhibit
poster, with the shot of Jimi Hendrix in concert, his left arm extended the length of his
guitar, was available in a large size for $10 and a small size for $2.50. A very limited
number of full size posters were also for sale, auto-signed by Linda, and included the
Sgt. Pepper launch party photo and a Jim Morrison shot, all for $22. By 2.30 on Sunday,
most of the first batch of posters were sold out. The gift shop also offers a lovely
selection of jewelry, notecards, ceramic figurines, scarves, toys, books, and
reproductions of artifacts from the Museum's collection.
After we took a few
photos of our whole group posed in the front lobby of the museum, we caravanned over to
T&J's Pizza and Pasta, a cozy family-owned restaurant in neighbouring Port Chester,
NY. Very shortly we were the only patrons in the place, jabbering away, trading stories
and photos, reflecting on Linda's great legacies, and celebrating the joy of being on the
lists. We raised our glasses to Linda's memory, and reaffirmed how great it was to see her
photos in person. Seeing everyone get along and express sincere interest in each other's
views confirmed once again to me that Macca-L and LindaMac-L are indeed the love lists!
The lists and our
group were given media coverage not only on the front page of the March 14th Sunday
*Greenwich Time*, but also on the March 13th 10 p.m. news on Fox Channel 61/Hartford, and
tri-state television channels 2, 5, and 7. Our knowledge about Linda and The Beatles far
surpassed that of the hapless Museum PR Director, who boldy and incorrectly told one
television reporter that Linda and Paul were already married as of the Sgt. Pepper launch
party! From comments many of us overheard whilst wandering through the exhibit, I fast
came to the conclusion that we were probably the most informed bunch there, full stop.
I highly recommend
this exhibit to everyone interested in Linda's photographic career, and in the 1960's in
general. Linda McCartney's Sixties will continue at the Bruce Museum through June 13th.
Their hours are Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun. 1 p.m.-5 p.m. They are closed Mondays.
Please note there is very limited visitor parking on the museum grounds. If you don't get
there relatively early, you'll have to park on the narrow street in front, which means a
long walk up the hill on which the museum sits to reach the main entrance. Admission for
the Linda McCartney exhibit is $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for seniors and children ages 5-12,
and free for children under 5. If you go on Tuesdays, there is no admission charge at all.
The Museum website is http://www.brucemuseum.org.
One other thing: The
Museum is dedicating their annual benefit event 'Rock the Bruce' to the Linda McCartney's
Sixties exhibit. It is being held on Friday, 9th April from 7 p.m. to midnight at the
Museum. It will feature a live band called The Trend, cocktails, a buffet dinner, and a
live aution. The PR for this event notes that last year, designer Tommy Hilfiger donated a
suit he'd made for Mick Jagger which Jagger had performed in the night before! The tickets
are a staggering $125 or $250 PER PERSON. With a $250 ticket you get a free poster of a
photograph from the Sixties exhibit. Tickets must be bought in advance, so ring
203.869.6786, ext. 328 or ext. 329 for purchase. If you do wish to attend this event,
please mention when buying your ticket that you heard about it on the LindaMac-L or
*The Greenwich Time*
article will be coming to the LindaMac-L
homepage shortly. I will also be posting other articles related to the exhibit, as
well as the new, complete tour schedule, which runs through August of 2001 and does not
yet appear on the Museum's website.
Thanks so much for
listening, and thanks again to everyone who came on our exciting field trip!
Bruce Museum of Arts
and Science, Greenwich, CT
March 13 - June 13, 1999
The Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, OH
June 19 - August 8, 1999
The Currier Gallery
of Art, Manchester, NH
August 13 - October 4, 1999
Tampa Museum of Art,
December 12, 1999 - February 6, 2000
Huntington Museum of
Art, Inc., Huntington, WV
February 27 - April 23, 2000
Worcester Art Museum,
May 6 - July 2, 2000
Memphis Brooks Museum
of Art, Memphis, TN
July 16 - September 9, 2000
J.B. Speed Art
Museum, Louisville, KY
September 19 - November 5, 2000
Delaware Art Museum,
January 20, 2001 - March 17, 2001
Ackland Art Museum,
Chapel Hill, NC
June 10 - August 19, 2001
Please check the Bruce Museum website for updates and changes. Hope
it's coming to a city near you!