A HUGE thanks to Pittsburgh’s The Andy Warhol Museum!

I wanted to follow up with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh about their awesome Exposures program. It helps local and regional artists gain exposure through exhibits at the museum and the museum store. I LOVE everything about this!

Some of the principals behind the first installment of Exposures were kind enough to answer some questions for me…

Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh

Jessica Beck, Assistant Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum

What was the inspiration behind Exposures?

The series was inspired by Warhol’s early career as a window dresser in Pittsburgh at Horne’s Department Store and Bonwit Teller in New York City. In the 1950s window dressing had become a rite of passage for artists in New York City as fellow painters such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were also designing props and displays for commercial stores. For his 1961 Bon Wit Teller windows, Warhol used five of his paintings based on comics and advertisements—Superman, Little King, Saturday’s Popeye, Advertisement, and Before and After (1)—as backdrops for mannequins dressed in spring dresses.Warhol was hoping the display would attract the attention of a dealer. His first major gallery show opened one year later in 1962 at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles where he presented an installation of 32 Campbell’s Soup Can paintings.

Our intention is to offer emerging, mostly student artists, a similar opportunity to showcase their work.

What specifically about the artists (style, influences) chose you to choose the first window artist?

The first window was curated around a theme of domesticity. Seen as a collaboration project, between the museum store and the curatorial department, I worked closely with The Warhol Store Manager Paul Matarrese to bring the theme of domesticity to the opening display. We selected ceramic objects that referenced Warhol’s personal interest in collecting with nodes to his famous trove of cookie jars and the museum’s endless reserve of his personal collection of fiesta ware.

Our intention is to have a range of goods from internationally acclaimed artists like Kara Walker to local artists like Alexi Morrissey.

Exposures is a quarterly program. Moving forward, how will you pick the new local artists?

Themes for future projects will use the temporary exhibition program as inspiration, and we intend to incorporate an element of surprise too!Our next window display will be inspired by the work of Sister Corita Kent, who is featured in the exhibition Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent, opening January 31, 2015.

Have you had positive feedback from the community so far?

Yes, our colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh are very excited about the series. Also, there has already been a bit of buzz within emerging arts circles. Art Daily also picked up the story.

Do you see anything else showcasing local artists in the future?

We’re always looking for ways to integrate emerging artists into our programming. Taking Warhol as inspiration, our goal is to foster and celebrate emerging talent.

Paul Matarrese, The Warhol Store Manager

Exposures is a quarterly program. Moving forward, how will you pick the new local artists? Is there anything specific you look for in a work of art from an emerging artist?

We have great relationships with local artists, schools, and arts organizations, and we’ll draw upon that. There’s nothing specific that we’re looking for per se, but we’re informed by Warhol, the museum, Pittsburgh, and the temporary exhibitions that will run during each iteration of Exposures.

Have you had positive feedback from the community so far?

The public’s been really receptive to the project. They get the idea and have been encouraging about the store expanding its scope. They appreciate that we’re trying to be an integral part of the process of understanding art, and commerce.

Do you see anything else showcasing local artists in the future?

The Warhol Store is concentrated on this right now, but we do carry items from local artists/artisans separate from Exposures.

Daniel Pillis, MFA student at Carnegie Mellon University, window display artist

What was your first thought when you found out you were chosen to participate in Exposures?

I don’t really remember my first thought, but I remember I was in my dining room, and I was contacted by the curators in the afternoon on the 1st of October. At the time, my house was filled with all of my 93-year-old grandmother’s belongings, and I was cleaning it out. I was very excited.

I remember thinking how odd it was, that Warhol started his career designing window displays, and here I was, designing a window display for his museum. I’m very close to Warhol in other ways as well. I spent some time hanging out in the old silver factory when I lived in New York, the Decker building at 33 Union Square West. Also, I had been wanting to work on a project at Paul Warhola’s Scrap Metal yard, since my family also owns a junkyard in New Jersey. So, when the call came to my studio, it felt like kismet, like some cosmic alignment. Also, we share the same Alma mater, Carnegie Mellon.

You take some inspiration from Andy Warhol’s work. Who are your other influences?

Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt. I’m lucky enough to know him personally, after bizarrely meeting him at his retrospective at MoMA PS1. Since then he’s become my mentor, and he has been very important as a person in my life. His art, being distinctly New Jersey-ian, is rooted in his religion and sexuality, manifest in elaborately stapled collages of aluminum foil, saran wrap, glitter, and a marvelous assortment of found images and textures. What I am most drawn to is his consummate aesthetic asceticism, the way art simply spools from his being. I would say other people influence me the most, simply being themselves. Trying to mentally break through that divide, between myself and others, and questioning our differences, or the specifics of our experiences, is a constant longing that keeps me engaged.

How does it feel to see your work in the museum’s windows?

It’s great. I hope people have found it interesting. Normally I show in bathrooms, basements, once even in the back of a station wagon, so it’s been quite exciting to have a work in the Warhol. For me nothing could be a more ideal context than the windows, wrapped up in the space is a rich tissue of issues about pictorial space, commodity fetishism, public engagement and art history. I wanted to spatially break up an atypical image by Warhol and use it as a means of entry to his museum, using contemporary technology to pull something from the past into the present. It’s been exhilarating to watch it come to fruition, and I hope others enjoy it.

Where do you see your art going after Exposures?

Time travel. I’m trying to figure out a way to create a virtual reality simulation of my entire life so I can move through it in a non-linear fashion. I recently finished a year-long experiment living in a replica of my grandmother’s house in Lawrenceville, and now I’m working with a theater group that is interested in re-installing it in a brownstone in Brooklyn. It’s still sketchy, but I hope it works out in the next year or so. Also, I’m developing an animated film/installation based on a short story by E.M. Forster called “The Machine Stops.” Even though it was written in 1909 it is oddly prescient in terms of contemporary technology, and I’m creating an abstract 3-D interactive installation using the history of computer generated imagery as a subject and environment. In the long run, I eventually want to move to Berlin.

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