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All of the Rhinestones and Fringe: It's a Dolly Parton Art Show

The Queen of Country Music's fans put together an art show inspired by their hero. It's as decadent as she is.
July 6, 2014, 6:00am

Dolly Parton plays the Benny Hill theme song on a rhinestone saxophone at Glastonbury.

“It takes a lot of money to make a person look this cheap!” Dolly Parton

If you haven’t heard, Dolly Parton is on her Blue Smoke tour. Since playing to one of the biggest crowds at Glastonbury – rumour has it, she wants to start her own festival – roughly 200,000 people sang along to her custom-tailored song for the moshpit called Mud (“We won’t let it ruin our high”). This Sunday, the 68-year-old Queen of Country plays Berlin as she blazes through Europe. One fanatic group of fans from Finland (of all places) started a touring Dolly Parton art exhibition organized by Aiju Salminen and Sampo Marjomaa. As a warm-up to the show on Sunday, you’ll see Parton-inspired art in hacked guitars and a My Little Pony in a fringe rhinestone bodysuit.

"My Little Dolly"

This tribute art show to the top-heavy, self-made country star is growing. Wanting to show in a space that’s outside your typical white box, the exhibition has hit boutique hotels in London and Helsinki, following Parton’s butterfly tour bus. While it was initiated by Finnish artists and designers who want to celebrate Dolly's return to the stage, for each city the art show visits, they add one local artist to the mix. “A lot of people know who Dolly Parton the character is, but they are not familiar with the scope of things she's achieved in her career,” said Marjomaa.


Even though she has mad plastic surgery, we know deep down Dolly keeps it real. And the show reflects that. “Fandom Imagined” is a holy mirror by Suvi Aarnio (a burlesque dancer by night) which is based upon Parton's quote “There’s a heart beneath the boobs and a brain beneath the wig.”

“My Little Dolly Parton” by Mari Kasurinen is probably the most attention-grabbing piece in the show – fittingly, Parton is famed for saying “I’m a show-off basically… always have been.” The artist is well-known practically everywhere for her My Little Pop Icon series (which features everything from an Edward Schissorhands pony to a Darth Vader pony).

While there are no gifs in the show (sadly), the artists wanted to bring together art that blurs the line between fan art, craft and design.“Dolly is a pop culture icon and a living legend,” said Marjomaa. “This is more a homage to her career and the character she's created; we didn't set out to poke fun or be mean or ironic. And I have to add, some of the artists were not fans to begin with, but they got more and more into Dolly the more they learned about her.”

“The Queen of Dollywood” is a piece created by Fiona Timantti, who has made burlesque pieces for Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey, created a knit and sequin out-of-control tiara headpiece that they say is “fit for country royalty.”

“Plywood Barbie” is a painting of Parton on plywood by Marjomaa, a reference to Parton’s Backwoods Barbie song. Marjomaa said the plywood represents Parton’s humble beginnings in comparison to her over-the-top glamorous career (“but if you look closely, even the grey plywood has some glitter in it,” said Marjomaa).


“Smaller than you think” by graphic designer Petri Bergman is a hollowed out pink guitar. It replaces it with doll house stuff for a singer that has more often than not been referred to as “pint-sized,” while “Dolly Surround System” is a gleaming portrait of Parton by Sami Viljanto (which looks a bit like cake icing).

Meanwhile, “I paid a lot” is a cheeky work of embroidery by Parton’s famous quote by visual artist and journalist Rakel Liekki while “Fighting words” is a take on Parton’s fierce defence of country music.

The dream, you ask? To have this exhibition planted in Dollywood, Parton’s theme park in Tennessee. “It is a dream we are hoping to make come true,” said Marjomaa. “Actually, representatives of Dollywood saw the exhibit in London. I would be lying if I said we are not dreaming of Dollywood!”

The Dolly Parton Art Show opens July 6 at the 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, third floor, Budapester Straβe 42, Berlin, Germany. The exhibition runs until July 21.

Nadja is on Twitter and you should really follow her.