When I discover something I absolutely love, I have this insatiable
need to share it with the world. And, long before Drew Barrymore wore a
bald cap and Jessica Lange put on an old lady face, I was spreading
the word about Grey Gardens.
Grey Gardens is probably my favorite movie of all time. But I'm not talking about the recent HBO version.
I'm talking about the original 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles. If you haven't yet seen it, drop everything you are doing now and buy it from amazon.com or cue it on your netflix. Oh, and then come back to my blog to read more about this amazing film and the series of coloring books based on the documentary.
Here's the quick and dirty about Grey Gardens...
The film follows the mesmerizing daily lives of a mother and daughter, both named Edith Beale. They were relatives of the prominent Bouvier family and were the aunt and first cousin to Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis.
At the time the documentary was filmed, the daughter, "Little Edie", was in her 50's and was living with her ailing mother (a.k.a. "Big Edie"). Having been abandoned by her husband decades prior, Big Edie resorted to limited family funds for survival. She and her unmarried daughter barely eeked by in a dilapidated house in the Hamptons.
The film documents an isolated life of two former socialites, washed up and alone. The house is infested with cats and raccoons, they cook their dinners in bed, they eat ice cream by the half gallon and sleep on stained mattresses. Little Edie spends her hours reminiscing about her faded beauty, diminished status and long list of rejected high class suitors. And, of course, we watch as she famously pieces together "revolutionary" costumes made from the designer clothes of her former life.
The Maysles show a stunning relationship between mother and daughter in the midst of a decomposing life.
That's the short summary. But the film creates so much intrigue, it's tough to stop there. That's why there are countless books about the Beales, a sequel and now the HBO movie with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange.
Probably my favorite piece of Grey Gardens memorabilia are a series of three coloring books that I stumbled across thanks to a facebook post by local artist Mike Maas (thanks dude!).
Creator David Crotty made a limited edition, three volume series of coloring books with scenes inspired by the film. I was so jazzed about this project, I immediately ordered myself a set and emailed the guy for an interview.
What is your art background?
I grew up in what has become the oldest Art Gallery in the state of Maine Frost Gully Gallery, in Freeport, Maine. My father is a painter. Andrew Wyeth used to come over for dinner.
How did you first hear about Grey Gardens?
I was at NYU and started filming fashion shows for Marc Jacobs. He told me about Grey Gardens during a cab ride in 1986. I remembered seeing the news story about Grey Gardens when I was a teenager in Maine.
How did you get the idea for the coloring books?
It was four years ago and I was living in Kihei, Maui. I had been using Photoshop a lot and learning how I could take an old picture and restore it, or colorize an old B&W picture. One night I went to bed around 10:30. Suddenly the idea came to me to make a coloring book. It just came to me. I jumped out of bed and literally stayed up all night working on selecting the images for the first volume. Three days later it was done and I started working on the next two volumes. Once they were finished I sent a copy off to Al Maysles. He absolutely loved them and gave me his blessing.
Have you done coloring books for any other cult films?
No. I am doing one now about Hollywood. It's the "Landmarks of Hollywood" series. Volume one is done, and I'm working on number two and three now. I've also started getting images together for a Paris Hilton Coloring Book.
How did you choose the images?
All the images used were either from still of the film or from the internet.
What was the method to create them?
That's a secret!
What other Grey Gardens books/dvds/media do you own, if any?
I have EVERYTHING related to Grey Gardens
Here's a sample:
1) "Grey Gardens 1975"
2) "The Beales Of Grey Gardens"
3) "Ghosts of Grey Gardens 2001"
4) DVD: The Tony Award Winning Broadway Play "Grey Gardens the Musical"
5) Little Edie Live: A Visit to Grey Gardens CD-Walter Newkirk
Books & Written stuff:
1) "The Bouviers: Portrait of an American Family"
2) "Talk to Her"
3) "The Direct Cinema of Albert and David Maysles"
4) "Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir"
5) "My Life at Grey Gardens" -Lois Wright
6) "Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of NY Cabaret"(the newest version)
7) "The Secret of Grey Gardens" by Gail Sheehy--- New York Mag 2007
8) Maysles Films Scrapbook
9) MemoraBEALEia -Walter Newkirk
10) Paradise Lost -A Gothic Tale of Wealth and Rebellion in East Hampton -Gail Sheehy New York Mag. 1972
11) Sleeping Beauties (Rare)
12) GREYGARDENS by Rebekah and Sarah Maysles
13) Edith Bouvier Beale: A Life in Pictures by Eva Beale
I also have the Reno Sweeney poster.
How many times would you estimate you've watched the film?
At least a Thousand times.
Sheesh! And I thought I was obsessed...
To order the Grey Gardens coloring books, visit greygardenscoloringbooks.com.