Thursday, August 16, 2007

St. Elvis

Today is the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, which means a week-long celebration in the birth place of rock ‘n roll, Memphis, Tennessee.

I’ve been to Graceland three times. My favorite stops on the tour are the Jungle Room, the yellow and black vinyl TV room, and the Meditation Garden. The garden may top them all because of the effect it has on visitors. Eager Elvis fans wind along the corridors and stairways used by Elvis and his Memphis Mafia, giggling over tacky furniture and ogling the gold statues; however, when they reach the Meditation Garden, a hush falls over them and they become reverent pilgrims paying tribute to their idol.

Last year, I talked with Gary Vikan, executive director of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore about the “Religion of Elvis Presley.” Mr. Vikan’s background includes studies of Early Christianity and Saints, and it was while writing his dissertation on this topic that he noted the similarities between the two. In addition to his talks on Byzantine art, he enjoys hosting lectures on Elvis and his followers.

Katrina Threat
Assistant Producer, ArtWorks This Week

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