EDITH LAKE WILKINSON (1868 – 1957)
The Original Provincetown Printmaker. Fannie Wilkinson. Charles Hawthorne. Blanche Lazzell. Packed in a Trunk . Jane Anderson.
Packed In A Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson
(July 24, 2015) The word of the day is sanitarium.
I spent the early morning hours taking in a documentary on the legendary flapper Zelda Fitzgerald who would have celebrated her one hundred-fifteen birthday today had she survived that tragic 1948 Asheville, North Carolina, Highland Hospital inferno. She was a writer, a ballet dancer, the wife of F. Scott and an artist who anticipated psychedelia. It was just a warm-up for today's matinee, the new HBO documentary released earlier this week, Packed In A Trunk.
The film is Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Jane Anderson's modern day quest to find out the truth behind the mystery of her great aunt's life story whose artwork and personal belongings were found in an attic trunk in the mid-1960s after being tucked away for decades. As it turns out, Edith Lake Wilkinson was a pioneer artist who in 1924 was institutionalized by a thieving lawyer for liking girls during what seems to be the peak of her career. The spectre of Edith has hovered over Anderson since her childhood and though facing decades of roadblocks and obstacles, remains true to her mission and helps Edith find her proper place in history. The doc is shot with a home-movie feel as she criss-crosses the US in search for answers. Jane ends up in our favorite little corner of the world, Provincetown, Massachusetts, where many of the answers to her questions finally crystalize.
It is great to see on screen appearances by Bill Evaul (sporting a mad scientist white lab coat) and Julie Heller just being Julie Heller. The film's only detour is cringeworthy when a psychic is brought in to contact Edith. Anderson is lovable throughout and resembles characters like Brian Epstein who were undaunted in the face of rejection until he finally found a label that got The Beatles.