Friday, September 23, 2022
Saturday, September 10, 2022
|Me and a photo of the artist, using a "Warhol Effect" filter.|
It's only fair I appropriate his style.
Nancy and I took a road trip to Pittsburgh earlier this week, ostensibly to see the baseball Pirates host the New York Mets.
On our way to an afternoon game, we crossed paths with the Andy Warhol Museum. I was excited to see the works of this New York City legend, not realizing that he was born in Pittsburgh. Also, not realizing that I was about to enter the largest museum in North America dedicated to a single artist.
The experience was a head-spinning, comprehensive portrait of the artist. To me, it was a portrait with flaws.
Let's talk about the elephant in the room. The photo below, in one of the main exhibit areas, is a work by Keith Haring, who painted over a papier-mâché sculpture Warhol had purchased.
|Haring's elephant, unfiltered.|
I love it. It's Keith Haring being Keith Haring and nobody else.
Then I looked around at what I thought were Picassos on the walls. They were works by Warhol in Picasso's style. Warhol, it seemed, tried to be like everybody else.
I looked at all the photographs on display, taken by other people and manipulated by Warhol. Then I watched some screen tests (filmed, silent portraits of visitors to Warhol's Factory studio in New York). Some on video, and many of those surrounding Warhol in black-and-white photos, seemed to be broken people. I read about suicides in the fine-print captions of various screen-test participants, actors in his films, and subjects of his art.
On one hand, Warhol produced work that seemed to exploit other people. He mastered the art of appropriation, taking possession someone else's work or image. As Warhol himself once said, "Art is what you can get away with."
On the other hand, his art put a spin on banality to create something with more meaning and permanence.
With ambivalence, I also watched a few videos of Warhol while there. He seemed elitist. In real life, I fear he'd make sure I knew I wasn't one of the cool kids.
|Andy appraising Nancy while giving me side-eye in another room.|
But then I noticed more layers to his life: His collection of kitschy folk art was heart-warningly "normal" (to my worldview, at least), like a visit to my guileless mother-in-law's house in Nutley, New Jersey.
|Front of Warhol's Mass card.|
Warhol was only 58 when he died. I'm in awe of his accomplishments in his too-short life.
I'm older than that now, and I've never done as much hands-on for those in need.
Also, all my creative and artistic achievements could fit in a single folder in one of the filing cabinets on the entire floor of the museum devoted to Warhol's archives. All seven stories of the museum in Pittsburgh display only a portion of all Andy Warhol's creative work.
I'm a weekday commuter to New York City, fated never to be world-famous for 15 minutes or eulogized by a pop culture icon. As I write this on a Saturday morning in New Jersey, I'm watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and Nancy is reading the news.
I take small comfort in the fact that I lead the type of ordinary life Andy Warhol might have appropriated to turn into art.
Following are some scenes from the exhibition.
Ordinary people imitating art...
Warhol's extraordinary art, including "Elvis - 11 Times"...
The obligatory gift shop in the lobby, and the world's last (and most decorated) pay phone in the basement...
Leaving the museum, we walked across the Allegheny River on the Andy Warhol Bridge. The homeless, hungry and friendless were pan-handling; the tourists pretended not to notice.
Several love locks attached to the grill of the walking path were numbered Master locks. With the right combination, these locks can be easily removed should love prove not as lasting as art...
Sunday, September 4, 2022
|Wesley Lake, Asbury Park|
Last week (Aug. 29-Sept. 3), I had fun taking over the Jersey Collective Instagram account. And you can too! There's a story pinned to that site with more information about how to apply; another story pinned there will take you to more information about the new "New Jersey Fan Club" anthology.
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Today, such a magical mystery tour might take them to American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, where they (and now YOU) could ride in an air-conditioned cabin on the Dream Wheel, a 300-foot Ferris wheel, or stroll through an indoor rival to an Octopus' Garden, or film ski scenes for "Help!" at an indoor slope in the middle of summer. I'm not generally a fan of malls, but this one makes me feel about 58 years younger.
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What's your favorite place to view the New York City skyline from New Jersey?
Recently, I saw it from the top of the Ferris wheel at American Dream Mall (the top photo above, #nofilter).
I've also seen the city's skyline from as far away as the beach at Sandy Hook.
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Meanwhile, in Montclair, I attended a fireworks night (photo above, left) following a Jersey Jackals (love that name) game in July. Their season already over, the Jackals announced recently that the team WON'T be returning next year to Yogi Berra Stadium on the Montclair State University campus.
Teams to see on my bucket list: the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, Trenton Thunder, and Sussex County Miners.
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Looking back to winter (feeling wistful during this summer's heat and draught), I visited two personal favorites.
More recently, thanks to NJ Spots, I found a new (to me) park to visit: the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Vernon, with well-kept walkways through beautiful greenery. NJ Spots is a great resource for exploring New Jersey!
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|Press of Atlantic City file photo|
All these places are perhaps guilty pleasures. What places are on your Date Night list? Asking for a friend :)
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Here are three places I've dared visit:
The Devil's Tree tree stands alone in the middle of a large field off Mountain Road in Bernards Township. It remains standing because anyone is cursed who tries to cut it down, according to local legend.
The Devil's Tower is located on Esplanade Road in Alpine, where a jealous lover leapt to death in 1922. As every schoolgirl at nearby Academy of the Holy Angels will attest, if you drive or walk backward around the tower three times, you will face the actual Devil.
Along "Annie's Road" in Totowa, you will see roadside memorials for the ghost of a teenager (sometimes called the "vanishing hitchhiker"), dressed in white, killed late night in the 1960s by a pickup truck as she tried to find her way to safety along unlit Riverview Drive. Local legend says she had fled her boyfriend's car after an argument on Prom Night.
PS- if ANYONE can tell me exactly how to find the Gates of Hell in Clifton (I've looked twice), I'd appreciate it.
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Need an occasion to visit NJ's 3rd largest city? I recommend the Paterson Poetry Festival, Oct. 1-3 (more information available at Word Seed). Allen Ginsberg grew up in Paterson, and the Poetry Center at Passaic County College sponsors an annual awards event in his honor every February.
|A post here about the evolution of this poem|
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Church buildings can provide quiet inspiration, and they often have wonderful stories to tell. I wrote about that as a contributor to "New Jersey Fan Club," so here's another shameless plug for that book.
About this image: Someone told me there had been crosses atop the two majestic front spires of St. Patrick's Church in Elizabeth, but that the crosses needed to be removed in 1961 due to damage from the vibration of low-flying planes at nearby Newark Airport.
This ended my week posting at Jersey Collective. At @foundinnj, I'll continue to post sights from around the state and, every Sunday, another image of another church.