What comes to mind when you hear the name Elvis? Musician. Icon. Sex. Spandex. Kitsch. Costello (kidding!). You can play the word association game all day long and no matter what your opinion of the man is—good, bad or indifferent—even the most suspicious minds have to admit that he is one of the gods on American pop culture's Mt. Olympus. This coming Friday, January 8, marks what would have been Presley's 75th birthday and we here at Around the Mall harbor a hunk-a hunk-a burning love for the guy so, in memoriam, we offer a series of Elvis-themed blogs. In this first installment, we show you how you don't have to hang around your local 7-11 to catch sight of the King of Rock and Roll. If you're in the DC area, and if you're an Elvis fan, you should most definitely check out the following:
National Portrait Gallery
On January 8, 2010 the National Portrait Gallery unveils its exhibit that commemorates the 75th anniversary of Presley's birth. The show explores representations of Elvis in the visual arts and how those pieces contribute to his mythic status in American popular culture.
American Art Museum
The American Art Museum has a small cache of Elvis-related art worth checking out, notably an Elvis jug that is currently on display and a folk art depiction of Mr. Presley behind the wheel of a pink Cadillac which , unfortunately, is still in the vaults is currently on display in the Echoes of Elvis show.
The 1993 Elvis stamp stands as the most popular commemorative postage stamp ever issued. (Indeed, there was a bit of a fad where people would improperly address letters bearing the stamp—only to have them returned with " Return to Sender" marked thereon. Cute, yes?) Learn about this icon of mailable art at the Postal Museum's website, see all the designs that didn't make the grade and you can also see an enlargement of Mark Stutzman's winning portrait.
For those of you who won't be able to make it out to DC for any of the above shows, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) offers the traveling show Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer. This collection of large-format images presents Presley in his prime. Check the SITES site to see if the show will be coming to a city near you.
The National Archives is home to one of the most iconic Elvis images—that of him shaking hands with former president Richard M. Nixon. In an online exhibit, learn about what precipitated the famous 1970 meeting, view letters from Elvis as well as the host of snapshots that didn't become famous but are still pretty cool just the same.
A show opening in 2010 will explore the impact of Elvis on popular culture. Details are few and far between at this time, but be sure to check the Newseum website for updates.
Check out the National Copyright Office's website for all the information you need to copyright your latest, greatest Elvis sighting! Long story short: you can't copyright the sighting itself, but any snapshots you take during your encounter are totally fair game. Happy hunting you savvy little paparazzo-in-training, you!