Filmmaker David Lynch awarded MacDowell Medal

Union Leader Correspondent
August 13. 2017 10:33PM

MacDowell Chairman Michael Chabon presented Kristine McKenna with David Lynch's Edward MacDowell Medal at the MacDowell Colony Sunday. (Meghan Pierce)

PETERBOROUGH — Filmmaker David Lynch was the 58th recipient of the annual Edward MacDowell Medal in the Arts at the MacDowell Colony on Sunday. Unable to attend the Medal Day ceremony, Lynch instead sent his thanks in a video.

Perhaps it was more fitting for the famous film director, who took the opportunity to create a dramatic video message that included sound and lighting effects as well as a dramatic end that amused the crowd at the Colony on Sunday.

“Thank you very much to the MacDowell Colony for this beautiful Edward MacDowell Medal,” Lynch said in the message. “It is a real blessing to be on your list of great artists you have honored through the years.”

Lynch is known for his films “Eraserhead,” “Elephant Man” and “Blue Velvet” as well as for being the creator of the 1990s television show “Twin Peaks,” which was rebooted in May as a limited Showtime series.

MacDowell Chairman Michael Chabon recalled seeing “Eraserhead” for the first time.

“Lynch’s first feature film ‘Eraserhead’ head blew my 17-year-old mind the first time I saw it at a midnight showing at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in early 1981. Blew it in ways I have yet to recover from,” Chabon said, adding that “Twin Peaks forever re-wired the circuitry and apparatus I had used to scan and interpret American life.”

Chabon proceeded to, as he put it, “nerd-out” and said he had seen Lynch’s “Dune” a total of five times. “And I have never failed to totally dig it.”

In Lynch’s place his friend and biographer Kristine McKenna spoke about Lynch from her personal perspective.

McKenna said she was also blown away by “Eraserhead.” As a journalist for the Los Angeles Times at the time, she tracked him down and set up an interview, which took place in a coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard during which Lynch enjoyed a piece of lemon meringue pie.

“I think a big part of his brilliance is rooted in how loving he is,” McKenna said. “I can’t count the people that said to me, ‘I owe my career to David.’ He’s just been very generous.”

She also read excerpts Sunday from her biography of Lynch, “Room to Dream,” which is to be published by Random House in January.

The Edward MacDowell Medal in the Arts award has been given annually since 1960.

The MacDowell Colony is the nation’s first artist residency program. The MacDowell Medal is bestowed to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the arts.

Past recipients include Aaron Copland, Robert Frost, Georgia O’Keefe, Chuck Jones, Leonard Bernstein and Toni Morrison.

The husband-and-wife team of composer Edward MacDowell and pianist Marian MacDowell established the colony in 1907.

After the award ceremony, visitors picnicked on the Colony grounds. The 32 artist studios scattered around the 450-acre property were opened to visitors for tours and visits with current artists-in-residence.

Medal Day is the one day of the year the MacDowell Colony is open to the public.


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