Art Outsiders: Judy Garland Giclee on Canvas by Tennessee Loveless
Signed by the artist, in an edition of 95.
I’ve often wondered about my obsession with females in the spotlight who dangled off the cliffs of tragedy, heartbreak, and addiction. I also wondered why I and other gay men adore the same types of devastated divas… What is about our subculture that is fascinated with the Crawford/Garland/Taylor/Davis storyline? Why are we amazed and dazzled with the rise and fall of a female legend? Is it our slightly connected relation in fighting to be equal in a heteronormative patriarchal society? Or is it somehow not relation, but a subconscious misogynist satisfaction to see a powerful female fail?
The last idea terrified me.
Ever since I was a child I was drawn to powerful females, whether they be fictitious female villains, or powerful protagonist actresses of the silver screen. I looked up to the powerful female figures who dominated men, and fought tooth and nail to be accepted in the boys club. I suppose I also identified when the heterosexual male majority took them down … because I was gay, and felt a kinship to women in this sense (even though the struggle was and is definitely not comparable).
My fascination with Judy Garland was separate from the other female legends of the early 20th century. Rather than wanting to be like her, I sought advice, consolation, and maternal comfort from her. She seemed to be fragile, and yet unbreakable at the same time, like a stargazer lily made out of iron. I wanted her to teach me how to survive in a world that seemed so at odds with me, as I certainly was fragile and hurt from the experiences of my strange childhood.
It wasn’t until my early 20’s when I would fully research her, I came to understand that with great brilliance often comes great heartache.
Judy Garland (AKA Frances Ethel Gumm) was born on June 20th, 1922 out in Grand Rapids Minnesota. Her parents were vaudevillians who ran a theatre where she was born. Her first performance was at 2 and a half years old for their Christmas show, where she sang in the chorus for “Jingle Bells”. At four years old, Judy’s father, “Frank” Gumm had to relocate his family to Lancaster, CA due him being outed as a homosexual.
Out in California, Judy was swept into a myriad of vaudeville acts and Vitaphone shorts with her sisters. They performed throughout the U.S., and Judy caught the attention of MGM executives at the age of 12. She signed with them at the age of 13. This fact would also produce her infamous quote later on in life:
“I was born at the age of 12 on a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot”...