Friday, July 3, 2015

Uncle Andy Warhol

We've done a lot since we parked our RV in my Mom's driveway in Wellington, Ohio about a month ago.  So I've got some catch-up posting to do. But first I want to talk about our most recent adventure: Pittsburgh, PA.

I haven't been to Pittsburgh since my high school marching band played at a Steelers game. Jim had never been there. So we took Cooper to the dog spa aka kennel, got in the car, and took a road trip. 

One of our standout activities was a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum. The entire building is devoted to the art and life of the man who was born in Pittsburgh in 1928, attended Pittsburgh's Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), moved to New York City in 1949, and became a pop art icon.

Before the tour I thought of Warhol as odd and “out there” painter of Campbell soup cans who hobnobbed with celebrities and pushed the art envelope. Then we met  Donald Warhola, a Pittsburgh resident, museum board member and staffer, and one of Andy Warhol’s ten nieces and nephews. 

Donald gave a talk before we started our tour, and portrayed Andy Warhol as an involved, generous, and interested uncle  

Donald told us about spending week-long vacations with his uncle in New York City, where he and his cousins played in an attic filled with art and vast collections. He told of sitting in a very fancy chair that Uncle Andy told him once belong to Napoleon. He said his cousins were delighted with a huge chocolate Easter rabbit their uncle game them. And Donald looked forward to getting Uncle Andy's used Levis 501 button-fly jeans -- the jeans were not only hard to get in Pittsburgh but a real fashion statement, especially when they had Andy's paint on them. Andy also gave Donald a job after college when Donald suggested he could help his uncle install computers.

Donald said as children he and his cousins didn't understand their uncle's celebrity, but they did understand how famous some of Uncle Andy's friends were.  When they realized their uncle knew Mick Jagger, for instance, they asked him "How's Mick?"  "Oh he's fine," his uncle replied, turning the subject back to the kids. "How are you doing in school?"

Someone in our group asked Donald why Andy dropped the last letter of the Warhola family name. Donald said he thought it was probably done for a variety of reasons, including dropping the last letter a made it more difficult to tell Warhol's ethnicity as there was discrimination against Slovaks at the time, and because the inability to determine his  ethnicity made Warhol seem more mysterious.

Each floor of the seven-floor museum had art and memorabilia from different decades of Warhol's life. The top floor contained information and photos of Andy's family and his life as a young man. Other floors displayed Warhol's drawings, paintings, portraits  photos, collections, movies, time capsules, and stuff, stuff, stuff, created by this very prolific artist. He had so any items he purchased a former New York City electric substation as a studio and a place to store his art.
The outside of the Andy Warhol Museum. Photography was not allowed inside, otherwise I might  have some crazy and/or beautiful photos in this post. Before Andy's father died, Andy's dad asked older son John to make sure Andy (who was only 13 at the time) went to college because he was going to be something special. John did so.  After Andy's death in 1987, John (who was Donald's dad) was named to the foundation that oversaw Andy's legacy and a was a key player in creating the museum. 
Walking from the museum back to Pittsburgh's downtown business district via the Andy Warhol Bridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment