Hubba, hubba: Island pinups
Last July, Kristen Leigh Conklin was looking for an art project to pursue on the Island.
Tonight, Ms. Conklin and her business partner, Gregory Michael Bennett, will premier Fish 'N' Chicks, a 16-month pinup calendar at a release party at the Oyster Bar Grill in Oak Bluffs. The party begins at 10 pm, open to the public.
The 11 by 17 inch swimsuit calendar, presented in the classic 1940s "Vargas girls" pinup design, features 20 mostly Island women, tastefully photographed by Ms. Conklin (aka Miss July 2010) at familiar Island locales from Tashmoo to the Menemsha dock.
In keeping with the theme, 20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group. The artists are also investigating ways to send the calendar to troops overseas.
"We are using a 16-month calendar so people can begin using it right away, beginning in September 2009 through December 2010. Instant gratification and beautiful girls - two things guys love," she laughed.
Ms. Conklin and Mr. Bennett set a grueling pace for themselves, taking more than 15,000 photos in three sessions, including some nippy late fall days. Ms. Conklin photographed 20 volunteer models under Mr. Bennett's art direction. Both are photographers and graduates of Ithaca College.
To support themselves, Mr. Bennett is a kayak tour guide and Ms. Conklin does wedding photography. They gratefully took a coffee break from their dual careers last week at Mocha Mott's in Oak Bluffs to discuss their company, called Vineyard Pinups (VP).
"I was looking for an art project to do on the Island, and Greg suggested a pinup calendar. He thought I wouldn't take it seriously," Ms. Conklin said. "But last spring I found an authentic 1940s magazine page of an illustrated Vargas girl and I just loved it. That's why I became so gung-ho about this project."
Alberto Vargas was a Peruvian-born painter whose life was dedicated to "glorifying the American girl," according to a biography. His work over six decades, most famously in Esquire during the 1940s, graced catalogs, Esquire and Playboy magazines, and major movie and Broadway show posters.