The portraits range from screen-printed Andy Warhol-type treatments to abstract impressionist versions of Elvis Presley. Then, there's the blond-haired woman in fishnet hose seeming to flash the Downtown Memphis statue of a young Elvis.
All are scheduled to be posted today on Facebook as part of a nationwide Elvis art contest focusing on Elvis' meteoric rise in 1956 from truck driver to rock and roll idol and movie-star heartthrob.
Graceland is asking Elvis Facebook fans to vote, beginning today, on their favorite among 56 finalists. The finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from 141 art entries submitted from across the United States since the contest was announced in March. The entry receiving the most Facebook "likes" will win.
The contest celebrates what Graceland calls the Elvis '56 "revolution," and the winner, to be announced when the contest ends May 30, will receive 56 prizes, including trips for two to Graceland for Elvis Week 2011 and to Las Vegas with tickets to "Viva Elvis" by Cirque du Soleil. The winner also will receive a cabin on the 2012 Elvis cruise and more than $2,000 in Elvis merchandise.
"People really romanticize Elvis," said Jenny Hornby, assistant curator of education at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and part of the panel of judges. Hornby said she chose pieces based largely on whether they fit the 1956 theme of the contest. "That was the assignment, and I think people are more interested in his younger years. There were a lot of portraits of dancing and singing."
At Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Elvis judge Eric Bork said some of the entries in the contest "might make really great posters." He said most seemed to be photo treatments or forms of digital manipulation. While most treated Elvis with the reverence typical of Elvis fans, some incorporated humor.
Among those was the photo of the young woman flashing the Downtown statue by Memphis photographer S. Julian Jenkins. Jenkins said the Elvis of 1956 made him think of throngs of women chasing their idol.
"He embodied sexuality," Jenkins said. "That's what he was. He was very conscious, I think, of his sexuality, and I wanted to showcase that sexual energy."
The art contest is part of a long tradition of creating Elvis images. "From Andy Warhol to Annie Leibovitz, artists and photographers have been celebrating Elvis' legacy for many years," said Scott Williams, vice president of marketing for Elvis Presley Enterprises. "We're excited that this contest is giving artists around the U.S. a way to share their Elvis-inspired art while social networking allows the world to pick their favorite."
-- Michael Lollar: 529-2793