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Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By VERNON SCOTT, United Press International   |   July 11, 2002 at 5:38 PM
HOLLYWOOD, July 11 (UPI) -- Life doesn't begin at 40 for Tinseltown actresses. It ends.

Even Academy Award winners aren't spared the tolling bell of career demise once they hit 40; actresses such as Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway, Diane Keaton, Glenda Jackson, to name a few.

Blonde, effervescent Sally Kirkland, who won an Oscar nomination for her performance in "Anna" (1987) and some 75 movie credits, sighed this week, "There is no movie work for Hollywood actresses over 40."

Kirkland's lament is echoed by uncounted former stars and popular leading ladies as Meg Ryan, Kim Basinger and Michelle Pfeiffer are discovering. But Kirkland is fortunate. She has another artistic talent that may surpass her 30-year run as an actress.

She is an avant-garde painter of note who is turning her energies to pallet and easel, paintings that will be on public display for the first time this month in Malibu.

Sally has been named honorary chairman and celebrity hostess of the Malibu Arts Festival, July 27-28, a massive display of local artists, of which her dazzling work will be the centerpiece.

"I'm turning my life around because there are no roles for women over 40," she said. "So Sally Kirkland is going back to a career she hasn't touched since 1988, collage assemblage.

"The Kirkland family on Philadelphia's mainline could not bear the thought of their granddaughter being an actress.

"When I was growing up in New York my father didn't like to see his daughter attending an acting school, so I went to the Art Student's League and the School of Visual Arts to placate my grandparents.

"Also I loved to draw and so did my father. My mother was a fashion editor (for Vogue), so I used to see the work of Irving Penn, Scavullo, Avedon, Milton Greene and others. I was always into image as a young girl.

"I would send my drawings to Christian Dior every summer and he would send me encouraging notes.

"Somewhere down the line my mother met Matisse, who influenced me. And Pablo Picasso invited her to his Riviera studio. She had him agree to put his drawings on fabric and Betina modeled them for Life magazine.

"It was the first and last time Picasso ever designed a dress.

"As a result I have this terrific photograph of Pablo Picasso, Betina and my mother to help illustrate my autobiography, which I'm writing.

"Now jump cut to Greenwich Village in the '60s in art school, paying my rent with watercolors and drawings in acetate out on the streets when I was a 17-20-year old selling my paintings to pay my rent on Christopher Street.

"Then I'd go to work as a waitress at Figaro and later as hat-check girl at the Bitter End to keep financially independent.

"I belonged to a gallery. My top price for a painting in those days was $300; the lowest $50. But that was without frames. Now they sell for thousands."

From the beginning, Kirkland says, she was enamored of the works of Amedeo Modigliani.

"To this day you can see traces of Modigliani and Matisse in my paintings," she said.

"I'm very into color. The School of Arts taught me to have the guts to put bold color right next to bold color. My use of color strikes people right away.

"Bright orange next to bright green next to blue and bright yellow. It provides a lot of energy.

"If you're into pastels, don't come to my show. But if you like Chinese and Mexican art you can relate. It's electric and vivacious. And I'm into women -- some with green and yellow or purple or orange hair. It has nothing to do with reality. I can't draw men for some reason."

Kirkland's paintings are not abstract, but neither are they realistic. Her work is impressionistic, vivid and compellingly decorative.

The imaginative paintings might light up even the most dreary room with bright design and extraordinary color combinations.

"I was part of the Hinckley-Brohel gallery in New York and did group shows, from which I learned how to frame," Sally went on.

"We did all our own framing in the '60s.

"Since then I was so involved in acting I painted only for friends who supported by art; people like Shelley Winters, Roger Corman, Joe Papp, Robert De Niro, Bob Dylan, Diane Ladd and Leigh Taylor Young."

In addition to acting, painting and writing, the versatile Kirkland is a minister in the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness in Los Angeles.

"It's non-denominational and about soul transcendence," Kirkland said. "It combines Eastern and Western spiritual paths."

Perhaps Kirkland's spirituality has helped generate her second career -- this time as a painter of note where age is of no consequence.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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