Article - Sally Talks About Her Art
Park La Brea Council Magazine
A movie star, stage actor, producer, director, artist, poet, song-writer, singer, ordained minister, yoga master, all these facets combined spell a highly polished
professional and spiritual person - Sally Kirkland.
Sally’s career and life have taken her from one extreme to the other. Born into a mainline Philadelphia family, she became a sex symbol and almost became a swami. A Shakespearean actor and performer of nude scenes off Broadway. From a life of luxury she also has challenged herself to survive in a $68/ month apartment next to a sanitation department.
Sally Kirkland is most famous for her movie career. Her roll in "Anna" brought her, in 1987, an Oscar nomination for best actress. It won her the Golden Globe Award, the L.A. Film Critic Award, and the Independent Spirit Award. The Los Angeles Times called it; "One of the five best female performances of the decade. She starred in Cold Feet with Keith Carradine, in Revenge with Kevin and The Best of the Best with Eric Roberts. She co-starred in 57 movies including "JFK," "The Way We Were," and "The Sting" to name a few. We have seen her on television as David’s mother on Rosanne, with Fran Drescher in "The Nanny," with Sherman Hemsley in Goode Behavior and with James Earl Jones in the Ace Award winning "Heat Wave." Her most recent works include being an associate producer of "Amnesia" in which she stars with Ally Sheedy and John Savage. (Showtime, June); Co- starring with Alicia Silverstone and Chris Walkin in "Excess Baggage" airing in August; The "Westing Game" on Showtime with Ray Walston. Diane Ladd and Cliff DeYoung due in the fall. Two family films, currently being edited. Renata of "Wilbur Falls," with Danny Aiello and "Little Ghosts." "Doing family stuff is a relief. I’ve been killed on screen, or killed someone so many times over the years, it’s nice to do something without the violence," said Sally.
The Taj Mahal meets Gold’s Gym' is how someone described Kirkland’s West HoIIywood studio when we met to talk about what makes Sally run, paint, act, and be. Sally likes to look at life from the funny side 'My acting came directly from story telling she said."When I was seven. my mother used to prance me in my pretty Dior dress in front in front of her friends saying, ‘Sally, tell everybody what it was like at school today. ’I was horrified at having to tell them what actually happened at school that day. so I started telling stories." she said giggling. At me same age she started drawing fashion designs. a subject close to home. Her mother, Sally Kirkland Sr., was fashion editor at Vogue for ten years and Life Magazine for twenty. By ten, I was getting notes from Christian Dior giving me advice." By her late teens. putting oil to canvass. she was already a professional with outdoor shows on 8th Street and exhibits in commercial galleries in New York. "This was my angry period," she chuckles. "I would paint nudes, and instead of painting the outline brown, I would paint it red and let the paint drip. It was kind of ferocious."
"My paintings were all very sad. I was into existentialism." she said in mocking seriousness. "If something wasn’t dark, it wasn’t art My mother would never come to my apartment. She said there was so much pain in my paintings" she laughs. "Then came my impressionist years. I was influenced by Picasso, Matisse and Modigilliani and switched from oils to acrylics, pastels, and water colors. I would stay up all night, put jazz on, I would work intently on two or three things at a time to the point where I was out of my body. I was into the colors and forms, getting stoned on the process. When
morning would come, I would step back and say, 'Wow! What is this?'"
The mid-seventies was a time of spiritual transition and art transition. Kirkland switched to magic markers and oil crayons, and a spiritual path. "The late seventies and early eighties were a neat time for me," she said. "I went on the road with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review. He liked to draw, and we would draw on each other. I have never had patience to do big stuff. I had just managed to paint or draw where ever I was at the moment. Always on the run Sally pointed at a canvass and said. "I just finished that canvass last night I painted it for Michael Masser who composed my favorite song. The Greatest Love of All. It’s a combination of a female Budda and a Hindu Goddess, done in magic markers and oil crayons. I’m really into colors. They give me energy. Sally the stage actress. has done over eighty plays, from Shakespeare to In The Boom Boom Room by David Rabe, for which in 1981. she won a Drama-Logue Award for Best Actress. Her more recent stage activities include producing and starring in Nonnie Bruce and the Power She Calls Love. as well as producing herself in Twelfth Night and Mad Vincent. In Vincent, she played the noted painter Suzanne Valedon, Toulouse Lautrec’s mistress, Utrillos mother and confidant of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Sally is also credited with doing the first nude scene ever in New York Equity Theater. It was in Terrence McNally's Sweet Eros. This was in 1968, before Hair and Oh Calcutta. It was the Vietnam era, when shock and changing of values took center stage causing a great revolution in the theater. "The New York Times called and said, you've just done Shakespeare and Checkov, why are you doing this? I told them; 'you can't carry a gun on a naked body.' This was a about innocence and vulnerability. I was opposed to the Vietnam War.
The most important roles in Sally Kirkland's life is being an ordained minister in the Church of The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, and a yoga master at the Integral Yoga Institute. Both of these roles allow her to impart her actingknowledge and deep spiritual beliefs. She taught for five years at Lee Strasberg's Institute in Los Angeles, and ran the Sally Kirkland Insight Workshops in 16 cities, including New York and Los Angeles for twenty years. She continues teaching and conducting seminars all around the world. Her "cast" of students would justify the insertion of, By Appointment to the Stars, on her business card. Listed among her yoga students are Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, and Raul Julia. She coached emotional recall acting to Streisand, Minnelli, Rosanne, and at the time unknown actress Sandra Bullock. The spiritual Sally summing up said, "Laughter is the quickest way to God. My addiction is to God."
As for Sally the painter's "wish list" she said, "I'd like someone to layout a studio for me, about a block in size, where I can throw paint at the walls. Cans and cans of paint, and then create and formulate as it falls." To Pasqual Bettio's offer of such a place in the Park LaBrea albeit a bit smaller, Sally Kirkland said "YES!"