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Tuesday, June 19 Local

30,000 pounds of Marilyn Monroe descend on Stamford

STAMFORD — Pedestrians strolling downtown on Monday stopped in their tracks. Passengers in cars on Bedford Street stuck cell phones out the window. All were hoping to get a picture of downtown’s latest attraction: a 26-foot tall, 30,000-pound Marilyn Monroe statue in Latham Park.

Installed with the help of a crane, “Forever Marilyn,” depicting Monroe in her most famous pose from “The Seven Year Itch” is the largest piece in this summer’s “Art in Public Places” series presented by Stamford Downtown Special Services District. This summer’s series “Timeless - The Works of Seward Johnson” features 35 realistic, life-sized sculptures throughout the city, plus the giant Marilyn statue in the park, which will serve as her home for the rest of the summer.

Now in its 25th year, the summer art series has brought sculptures of shapes, dinosaurs and horses over the past several years. But many residents are saying this exhibit — the fifth featuring works from Seward Johnson — is the best yet.

“This is definitely one of the better ones,” said James Bruce, a Stamford resident for the past decade, of this summer’s series. “I’m more interested in this. This is the most intriguing.”

The sculptures first caught Bruce’s eye on his drive to work a few weeks ago — he noticed them gathered in the vacant lot by Stamford Town Center, where they were awaiting installation. Since then, he’s admired the realism of the pieces, including “Keeping in Touch,” a statue in front of the Ferguson Library depicting a man reading the paper with his dog.

The summer art series “is one of the good things about Stamford,” he said. “It’s something to look forward to.”

The statue - particularly the installation of Marilyn - has served as a point of interest of residents and tourists alike. On Tuesday, artists from Seward Johnson Atelier will be giving her some final touches. On Wednesday, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Stamford Downtown will host its opening night celebration at The Palace Theatre with cocktails, hors d’ouevres and tours of the sculptures and on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the Avon Theatre, which sponsored the statue installation, will be holding a viewing of “Forever Marilyn” followed by a screening of “The Seven Year Itch.”

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26-foot Marilyn Monroe statue stands tall in Stamford

Media: Stamford Advocate

“People are stopping in the street, people are wheeling carriages over,” said Sandy Goldstein, president of Stamford Downtown Special Services. “We have people saying ‘What’s going on?’ What’s going on is we have the privilege of hosting this Marilyn Monroe sculpture. (Seward Johnson’s) works are timeless...It’s an extraordinary work of art. The realism of this is astounding.”

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Goldstein said Stamford is the fifth city to host the Marilyn statue. The sculpture has previously been on display in Hamilton, New Jersey, Chicago, Palm Springs, Cal. and Bendigo, Australia.

Throughout Monday morning into the afternoon, “Forever Marilyn” was put together in pieces, starting with her legs on the bottom. The sculpture came to Stamford from Johnson’s studio in Hamilton, New Jersey, in five pieces on an open air, flatbed truck, according to Paula Stoeke, a curator for the Seward Johnson Atelier.

“The way she has to be assembled is almost like layers of a cake,” Stoeke said.

Stamford residents Janice and Bill Bemonte saw “Forever Marilyn” in Chicago around 2012 and came to Latham Park to watch her installation.

“We were quite amazed, so I came down to see how they were going to get her together,” Janice Bemonte said. “It’s going to draw a lot of people downtown. That was one of the attractions that drew people to Chicago.”

The Bemontes agreed Johnson’s sculptures are one of their favorite of the summer art series, though the realism of the statues was alarming at first — Bill admitted he thought one sculpture on Summer Street was an actual person waiting to cross the street.

“It looks surreal,” Janice Bemonte said.

“This tops all the things we’ve had,” her husband added.

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata

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