Kim Novak’s exhibit at the Butler will be a first Legendary Artist

Staff report


Kim Novak’s upcoming exhibition at the Butler museum will be the first public display of the former screen star’s art.

Portraits, interiors and landscapes — inspired by spirituality and nature — will be included in the show, which will open May 4 and run through June 29. A reception with Novak will be from 1 to 3 p.m. May 4 at the museum.

“My style of painting is the result of striving for a harmonious union of impressionism and expressionism,” she said in a press release. “I have always been influenced by life as it exists around me — touched by my past, the world of make-believe — and concerned with what affects life today and how it might effect and infect life tomorrow.”

“Through the use of symbolism I have found a way to express my passion for life, vent frustrations and experience the freedom of self-expression. This is the ultimate reward that comes to the visual artist.”

Louis Zona, director of the Butler, praised the joy that comes through in Novak’s work.

“Kim Novak, an American film legend, is also an immensely talented visual artist,” he said. “Her pastels celebrate life and are a reminder that art in its many forms exists to raise our spirits and inspire us to see beauty throughout God’s universe.”

As a young starlet, Novak became the top box-office star in the world in 1956, and held that position for three years.

She continued to act until 1965, when she walked away from Hollywood. She moved to the wild coast of Big Sur, Calif., to create a lifestyle in harmony with nature and pursue her love of poetry and painting.

Until now, Novak has never publicly exhibited her works, which are very emotional. The Butler exhibition will be followed by another one in San Francisco next year.

Born Marilyn Pauline Novak in Chicago, the actress-artist was the daughter of a history teacher who, during the Depression, became a railroad freight dispatcher. Her mother was a factory worker.

Novak and her older sister, Arlene, were raised in a close-knit, lower middle-class family of Czech descent. As a teen she won several scholarships to the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago, and was following that path when she landed a job with a modeling agency, and soon after began making movies.

Her first film was opposite Fred MacMurray in “Pushover.” She would also appear in the comedy, “Pffft,” opposite Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon.

“Five Against the House” followed, and then “The Man with the Golden Arm” in which she played the compassionate concerned girlfriend of a drug addict, played by Frank Sinatra.

Even more spectacular were her starring roles as the small-town country girl in the film version of William Inge’s “Picnic,” directed by Joshua Logan, and as the socialite wife of Tyrone Power in “The Eddy Duchin Story.”

Novak also appeared in “Jeanne Eagles,” “Pal Joey,” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” a film the Library of Congress named as a national treasure.

She followed “Vertigo” with a comedy “Bell, Book & Candle,” again opposite Stewart and Jack Lemmon. Her films in the early 1960s displayed her versatility in “Strangers When We Meet” with Kirk Douglas, and the off-beat comedy “Notorious Landlady” with Jack Lemmon again.

As an actor, Novak was always an audience favorite, yet many critics misjudged her work as too simplistic when compared to actors whose stylized performances are now viewed as outdated.

Novak’s work is receiving more acclaim with the passage of time. Her most recent awards include the prestigious Golden Bear for lifetime achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2003 Novak was presented with the Eastman (Kodak) Archives Award for her major contribution to film.

In 1976, Novak married equine veterinarian Dr. Robert Malloy, and to this day aids in the care of horses and other animals alongside her husband.

The Malloys’ Oregon home burned to the ground three years ago, destroying much of Novak’s artwork, 10 years of writing her autobiography, and priceless artifacts of her film career.

After absorbing the shock, Novak viewed it as a new beginning, and for the past three years turned the work of building a new home into a challenge to take on another art form. She not only designed the home from out of the ashes of the last, but painted the walls with murals, and sculpted a portion of the entry with her verse.

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