Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta opens the new year this Thursday with a celebration of pop art that includes more than 20 pieces of rarely seen original works by Andy Warhol from the collections of Marshall Field and Beth Rudin DeWoody.
“We’re pleased to offer this astonishing exhibition from the world-class collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody in our newly renovated gallery,” says curator Janeen Mason. “It’s a national story right here in our little village of Tequesta.
“We hope visitors will come from all over South Florida to view these rarely seen Warhol paintings,” she says.
The exhibit, titled Warhol! Warhol! Warhol!, also includes works by ceramist and pop art sculptor, Ray Gross; a Pop Art jewelry show and sale; James Thurman’s Paper Alchemy show, which uses the artist’s own patented material, Thurmanite; and a reduced-size version of the Radical Jewelry Makeover, from the activist artists’ collective known as Ethical Metalsmiths. The show runs through March 23.
Why Warhol; why now?
Warhol’s in the ether, says Mason: “Surprisingly, Warhol is everywhere.”
Mason goes on to reference the tumult of the 1960s, when Warhol was beginning his career. In addition to peace, love and rock ’n’ roll, simultaneously there was war and the assassination of many of our leaders, including John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Bobby Kennedy.
“Warhol’s artwork in those years turned the art world on its ear,” Mason says. “You didn’t have to have an elite education to understand its complexities. At a glance, you knew you were looking at a soup can, no deep thinking required.”
She draws a through-line between those times and current times.
“Because of social media, celebrity culture abounds. No talent is required; we idolize the famous for simply being famous,” she says, noting that once again, America is divided by politics, race, religion and now a viral pandemic.
“Warhol’s work eliminates the pandemonium, acknowledges what is real, while circumventing deeper meaning,” Mason notes. “No idealism required.”
Warhol, arguably the most famous American artist in the last 100 years, was an artist, director, and producer and a leading figure in the Pop Art movement. Among his most well-known works are portraits of consumer objects such as Campbell’s soup cans (1962), Brillo soap pads boxes (1964) and Coca-Cola bottles (1962), as well as cultural and political figures including Mao Zedong (1973), Elizabeth Taylor (1963), Marilyn Monroe (1967) and Elvis Presley (1963).
In 1962, when Warhol’s first gallery show exhibited his now iconic 32 paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, one for each flavor, the collection sold at that time for a total of $1,000. Fifteen years later in 1987, the soup cans were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (MOMA) for $11.7 million.
On display at the Lighthouse ArtCenter is a wide selection of Warhol’s most evocative works, from early I. Miller shoe illustrations that he created as an illustrator for Glamour magazine early in his career, to his silkscreen prints of lips, a Navajo squash-blossom necklace he owned in silver, set with turquoise and decorated with silver charms, from the Marshall Field collection, and a 1957 pen-and-ink drawing titled In the Bottom of My Garden, with calligraphy by his mother, Julia Warhol.
Later in his career, Warhol created his experimental Oxidation Paintings, made with urine and metallic pigment on canvas, a number of which are included in the exhibition. Between 1977-78, Warhol went on to experiment with incorporating urine as an artistic medium in two series of works — the Oxidation Paintings and the Piss Paintings, or works where primed canvas was stained with urine, as opposed to the Oxidation Paintings, in which stained canvases were coated with wet copper paint and would oxidize and turn orange and green from the urine.
Complementing Warhol’s work at the ArtCenter, next door in the Schorr Gallery, Pop Art Porcelains by Ray Gross pays homage to Warhol, juxtaposing Gross’s works, including a life-size Harley-Davidson made of porcelain, with Warhol’s iconic images.
The ceramicist, known for his hand-built, hand-painted, hyper-realistic porcelain sculptures, depicts 3-D items of everyday Americana, including utilitarian art objects such as paint cans, tubes, brushes, pencils and other artist tools.
Another wall displays the results of a national call to artists for Warhol-inspired jewelry with one-of-a-kind pieces in a variety of media. The juried Pop Art jewelry show and sale features more than 60 original Warhol-inspired necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets and broaches created by artists from across the country.
James Thurman’s Paper Alchemy show contains more than 30 contemporary pieces of jewelry and sculptural objects by national and international artists. Paper Alchemy is a traveling exhibition of artwork that utilizes Thurmanite, Thurman’s invention of handcrafted of material created entirely of layered recycled paper and eco-resin.
Lastly, a mini-version of Ohio-based Ethical Metalsmiths Radical Jewelry Makeover features upcycled or broken jewelry that has been re-purposed and designed into unique “new” pieces of jewelry.
On opening night Thursday, guests will be served beverages and hors d’oeuvres alfresco in front of the gallery. The exhibition is free to members and $5 for non-members. The gallery is located at 373 Tequesta Drive in Tequesta. For more information visit lighthousearts.org or call 561-746-3101.