Imagine seeing the contents of the mind of an adolescent girl neatly arranged on the walls of an art gallery. There would be telephones and teddy bears, record albums and valentines, and of course, countless souvenirs of The Boy.
For Joni Mabe, a 32-year-old artist from Georgia, Elvis Presley is The Boy, the ultimate and only Boy, and her "World Famous Traveling Elvis Museum," on view through Jan. 14 at the Zero One Gallery in Hollywood, showcases 10 years' worth of Elvis debris, lovingly collected and displayed.
An obsessive fan who claims that Elvis comes to her in dreams and tells her what to do, Mabe has accumulated what may be the definitive collection of Presley memorabilia and she's covered the walls of the gallery from floor to ceiling with hundreds of photographs, posters, press clippings, T-shirts, glittering trinkets and velvet paintings. Adopting a landfill approach to the question of what to do with an empty art gallery, Mabe invites us to binge on mass-media pop culture.
While Mabe has amassed a staggering abundance of all the standard Elvis merchandise, what distinguishes her collection are such rarities as water from Elvis' swimming pool, one of his canceled checks, dirt from his garden, a vial of Elvis sweat, and the piece de resistance of her collection, a toenail she found in the carpet at Graceland and displays with the label "Maybe Elvis' Toenail." (Asked how she verified its authenticity, Mabe comments, "Well, I can't be sure it's his, but who else would be clipping their toenails in the house?")