October 22, 2009
POE FUNERAL BEHIND THE SCENES: EFX DESIGNS POES BODY
|For months prior to the 2009 Poe Funeral in Baltimore, Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum, had promised that there was going to be an open casket viewing at the House on Amity Street, and that the public was invited.
But what body? And whose? Speculation and gallows humor ran high. Was a certain local medical college supplying the body? Was an actor going to it? Was it going to be the real remains of Edgar Allan Poe??? Rest assured all of those ideas were never considered, and Poes remains shall remain, with respect and dignity, in his tomb at Westminster Hall.
Jeff Jerome turned to Baltimore-based special effects and make-up artist Eric Supensky of EFX to create the life-life effigy of Edgar Allan Poe. The task sounded simple; create a realistic head and body that could be seen close up by visitors attending the viewing at the Poe House, and could be discerned from a fair distance in an open coffin during the funeral service planned for Sunday, October 11th.
Supensky, with only a couple of weeks before the viewing day, started the process of creating Poes head. A suitable living subject was found for a plaster life castactor Mark Redfield, who was in Baltimore working with Jerome as one of the organizers of the event.
Said Eric Supensky, I knew Mark very well, and he played Poe and shares certain similar facial characteristics. I thought it would be a good place to start my sculpture with a real face as the under structure. Redfield volunteered for the sometimes uncomfortable plaster casting process, from which a positive bust was created.
With this as the basis, Supensky then sculpted a more accurate bust of Edgar Allan Poe. Using photographs and a marble bust that is at the Poe House, he made the new head out of clay, with the intention of creating the final version in latex rubber.
Poe Museum curator Jeff Jerome looks at Poe's body - (Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)
Poe's funeral on 10/11/09 - (Photo courtesy of The Baltimore Sun)
|The first sculpt in clay worked really well, said Supensky, but was too lifelike. I realized that Poe looked too alive, even though I sculpted the face with the eyes closed. Then I knew what the problem wasa corpse in the 1840s wouldnt look like a corpse today. The morticians art has come a long way. I knew I needed to look at the face in a laying down position, and sculpt the weight and gravitational pull of the neck area and the jaw. It started to look more dead then. Supensky would like to thank Mr. Zannino and Salva Marziale of Zanninos Funeral Home in Baltimore for their guidance and insight on mortician techniques from the 1800s. Their help was instrumental in ensuring the accuracy of Poes look in death.
And then another thought occurred to Supensky. Jeff (Jerome) kept talking about all of these (funeral) events as a celebration of Poe. I began to wonder that maybe the figure should be just slightly theatricalized to take some of the edge off. So I played with the sculpt with two goals in mind: one, the figure would have to work close-up, but if I made everything slightly, imperceptibly larger, the head could be read by the hundred of people that would see him in the coffin when it was brought down the aisle at Westminster Hall.
The other thought that occurred to Supensky was Pirates of the Caribbeanthe dark ride at Disneyland. I remembered the wonderful sculptures of the original pirate figures that were designed by Marc Davis. They were very real, but ever-so-slightly larger than life. Somehow in my gut I knew that was the way to go and it would be acceptable to the audience.
Vintage antique clothing was secured to dress the mannequin, and Denise Cellucci was brought in to help with the hair, eyebrows and mustache. The finished latex head was then given its final paint job to approximate a corpse look, and Supensky delivered the body to the Poe House on Amity Street the day before the scheduled viewing.
He set the body up in the coffin, and then brought Jeff Jerome in to see the finished result. Jerome was the first to see Poes body, and his first reaction was what Supensky had hoped for. He started to bounce on his heels a little, like a kid. He smiled and said Im getting chills looking at this. The first press then arrived at the Poe House (The Baltimore Sun and The Associated Press) and the first press photos were taken that morning.
The funeral Poe never had took place on October 11th, 2009, and Edgar Allan Poe, through the artistry of Eric Supensky, was there for all to pay tribute to.
For more about the past and upcoming Poe Bicentennial events visit: www.poebicentennial.com
March 10, 2009
EFX AT THE 2009 AAM ANNUAL MEETING AND MUSEUM EXPO IN MAY!
EFX will be in Philadelphia, PA at the 2009 American Association of Museums expo April 30-May 4, 2009.
If you plan on attending, stop by to visit our booth and say hello!
When: 4/30/09 to 5/4/09
Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA
For more information visit : www.museumexpo.org
February 19, 2009
EFX AT THE SMALL MUSEUM ASSOCIATION 25th ANNUAL CONFERENCE!
On Sunday, February 22 and Monday February 23, 2009, EFX will be in Ocean City, MD at the 2009 Small Museum Association Conference at the Clarion Resort Fontainbleau Hotel. If you plan on attending, stop by and say hello!
When: 2/22/09 to 2/24/09
Where: Clarion Resort Fontainbleau - 10100 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, MD 21842
For more information visit www.smallmuseum.org