Phoenix Celebrates Touring Warhol Exhibit, Eccentricities


Warhol Phoenix

This club has everything: Queen Elizabeth, screen tests, Keith Haring, silver balloons and Andy Warhol. OK, so it’s not in New York, but the Phoenix Art Museum paid tribute to Warhol with a rousing party on First Friday that garnered over 5,500 attendees.

The exhibition, “Warhol: Portraits,” notably included a beautiful 1986 Warhol self-portrait, films from 1964-67 and many famous works of portraiture.

Three sets of two portraits really stood out amongst the loud paint and crowd at the exhibit: Heather Watts, a line drawing made in 1986, a portrait of Cornelia Guest made in 1983 and Pat Hearn, made in 1985.

These three sets capture the theme of the exhibit because Cornelia Guest was the first person to be called a “celebutante” by the New York Times. She was, at least in the words of the exhibitors, “the first person to be known for being famous.”

Not only can you idolize others, but you too can take a screen test and be projected for everyone to see in this exhibit. It’s an incredibly interactive exhibit.

Read more about Andy Warhol at ASU’s Art Museum here.

Jerry Smith, the lead curator on the exhibit, adds his own touches to a collection of portraits and multimedia that made Phoenix’s exhibition unique.

“One of the things in putting it together, clearly, we decided to have some fun with color,” he said.

The walls are adorned in vibrant ’80s hues like pink, yellow and purple.

Not only is there an experimentation with the walls, but the way that the artwork is placed on the walls took risks. The preparation took place a few weeks, because art obviously can’t be hung with wet paint signs still on the wall.

“Where others, though, I did line up as well as I possibly could, the portrait of Heather Watts. Two portraits — one on the purple paint and and one on the pink paint — that was intentional,” Smith said.

As far as the content goes, Smith stressed Warhol’s early adoption of the idea of the branded self.

“Warhol was attuned to the idea of branding, to the idea of people promoting the idea of themselves, and that idea of the ‘in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes,’” he said.

The exhibition has added importance given our opportunity to brand ourselves while obsessing over every minuscule detail of our wired lives, from Twitter handles to Snapchat lighting.

“I think for virtually everybody now, they get it, and, you know, even when older curators are on Twitter, it’s a good time to kind of explore those ideas,” he said.

The exhibition, however, was not revealed to the public without a party rivaling Warhol’s original celebrations of art, music and the people who made the arts scene what it was in New York in the ’60s, according to Christian Adame, assistant director of education at the Phoenix Art Museum.

“He called these parties The Exploding Plastic Inevitable,” he said. “It was about freaking your senses out, it was about promoting the Velvet Underground, it was about dancing and playing and just having people see and be seen. That was Warhol’s MO”

The First Friday timing was no accident. The diverse crowd, including many families, older people and Phoenicians at large, added to the community vibe of the evening.

“It’s the perfect thing to do on this night,” Adame said. “Celebrate (Warhol), celebrate the community and local business and local artists, it seemed like a really good fit.”

The Exploding Plastic Inevitable included bands such as Wooden Indian “channeling” the Velvet Underground, Palabra Hair Art Collective, as well as local arts organizations Jar of Buttons and Four Chambers Press.

Four Chambers Press assistant director Kelsey Pinckney was extremely pleased with the organization’s collaboration with the Phoenix Art Museum.

Four Chambers published a chapbook of 30 works, 26 of which are written by local artists. Each work is a response to a piece in the museum.

Each written work might include “how (the artwork) communicates to them through this art, others are things that were inspired by this piece, a story that they wrote. They’re not really describing it; it’s all very personal, I would say,” Pinckney said.

Working with the art museum was a piece of cake, Pinckney said.

“(The chapbook) became a collaborative project,” she said. “They’ve been so generous. We used their fonts and we really wanted to make it an art museum brand.”

The Phoenix Art Museum will show “Warhol: Portraits” from March 4 to June 21. Admission to the museum is free with an ASU Culture Pass.

More information can be found on ticket prices here and here.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I Love Warhol

I Love Warhol