Curator Gary Vikan isn't typical, but he's a true Elvis...


November 15, 1992|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Curator Gary Vikan isn't typical, but he's a true Elvis 'friend'

Memo to Bill Clinton, Elvis fan: You're no Gary Vikan.

Mr. Vikan, after all, has stayed at the Elvis hotel. He has taken 300 pictures of Graceland. He has planned a family trip to Roanoke, Va., the rumored home of a miniature Graceland.

In the eyes of any believer, that makes him more of a Presleyite than the president-elect.

"I don't use the word Elvis 'fan,' " he says. "I use the word Elvis 'friend.' "

But as Elvis friends go, he's hardly typical, what with his Guilford home, his curator's job at the Walters Art Gallery and his high-brow approach to the King.

Mr. Vikan, 46, puts the stamp-honored legend in the context of other charismatic figures in Western civilization. When he lectures on the subject, he explores the idea of Elvis as a modern-day saint, pointing to the pilgrimage that followers make to Graceland on the anniversary of Elvis' death to support his point of view.

Obviously, not everyone gets it.

Some people "bristle and say, 'That's ridiculous. It's an insult to the church,' " he says.

But at least his two daughters have latched on to the idea. Now if they could only make a believer out of his wife.

"When I put a tape on in the car, she'll tolerate it," he says. "But she can't stand when I get out the documentaries."

Dana Petersen became a litigator after watching a lawyer in action during a high school internship.

Now she's returning the favor. As the new president of the Monumental City Bar Association, she's eager to make the profession come alive for the young.

"There is nothing like going to a high school and sitting down with a young man or young woman," says Ms. Petersen, 35, who lives in Federal Hill.

As the head of the organization for black lawyers, she plans to continue sponsoring moot courts for students.

Although she's never been discriminated against professionally, she says, "Others haven't been so lucky."

Her youthful looks, in fact, have caused more comments in court than her race.

During a trial several years ago, a judge addressed Ms. Petersen, who recently became a partner at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, as "young lady" and her male counterpart as "counselor." She says, "I made a joke and moved on, but inside you . . . say, 'Oh, boy.' "

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

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