Nashville museum features work of Milligan professor

Photo by Alice Anthony
This photo is one of many in AnthonyÕs exhibit, ÒGone But Not ForgottenÓ which will be featured at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in Nashville through Sept. 12.
By Lesley Jenkins
Star staff
The Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in Nashville is featuring the photography work of a Milligan College professor. Alice Anthony, associate professor of art at Milligan College, has provided her exhibit entitled, "Gone, But Not Forgotten." The exhibit features photographs of Elvis Presley fans as they visit Graceland remembering his death on Aug. 16, 1977.
The gallery will host the exhibit from now through Sept. 12. Regular viewing hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. An opening reception was held Aug. 21. Unfortunately, Anthony was unable to attend the reception because it conflicted with the beginning of fall semester.
Anthony has concentrated on photographing Elvis fans and getting to know some of them personally for the past six years. Two of her favorite fans are the "Pink and Black Ladies," whose real names are Jerry and Annie.
"At first I photographed the fans out of curiosity. Now I have gotten to know some of them," said Anthony. "And I really like their enthusiasm."
Anthony said the two are referred to as the "Pink and Black Ladies" because they dress in those colors every day until the day of Elvis' death, when they dress in solid black.
Every year, Anthony catches up on the past year with Jerry and Annie while she photographs them as they visit the different sites. This year she took photos of them looking toward Graceland. "This year I tried to steer away from the Elvis look-a-likes. They are everywhere," said Anthony.
Anthony said she can always count on the "Pink and Black Ladies" to be there. "They like to see me. This year when they saw me they hugged me and let me interview them for an upcoming photography project about women over 40," said Anthony. Both women are from Jefferson City, Missouri. They make the trip to Graceland every year and stay for the entire celebration, from Aug. 5-24.
Many of the fans are surprised and jealous of Anthony when she tells them that she lived in the same subdivision connected to Graceland when she was a young teenager. She remembers seeing Elvis ride his motorcycle through the streets and watching his fireworks display from her backyard. She said he was probably in his early 20s, and fans would gather outside of the Graceland gates hoping to catch a glimpse of the King.
Elvis autographed her church bulletin one day when her family stopped by Graceland. When extended family and friends would visit, Anthony's family would take them to see Graceland, and on that day they got lucky because he was outside signing autographs and talking to people.
"We stopped and all I had was my church bulletin for him to sign," said Anthony. Luckily, she still has the bulletin. Anthony was able to meet him another time when she was eating ice cream and he stopped and talked to her. But she said it wasn't unusual for him to walk around the neighborhood or play football at the local recreation center.
Though she was around 13 years old when the big hype about Elvis started and teenagers began to fall in love with him, Anthony never really understood why people loved him so much. She likes some of his music, but she doesn't consider herself a die-hard fan. If she tells a devoted fan that she used to live in the house that adjoined the Graceland property, they don't understand why she didn't absolutely love him.
She said, "He was just part of the neighborhood. He was a celebrity in our neighborhood, but we just didn't see what the big deal was."
Anthony is still amazed at some of the people who visit Graceland. The Wall of Love is the first place that she visits for photographs. Fans write statements about how much they miss him and love him. She said some of the writings are "like something you would write to your boyfriend."
"Gone But Not Forgotten" was also featured at the Johnson City Arts Council Gallery earlier this spring.