I went with my sisters to see an exhibit of Andy Warhol prints at the Munson Williams Proctor Museum in Utica, New York for my birthday. We don’t get a lot of exhibitions by really famous artists here in the hinterlands of New York State. There are not enough patrons to cover the huge fees these shows must demand. So we were happy to go check out Mr. Warhol’s work. Was he a great artist or a light weight guy with a keen sense of design? He certainly doesn’t pull at my heartstrings the way certain painters and artists do, but he is a reflection of an era, and it is the era in which I came of age. The things that happen in our twenties always seem to affect us profoundly, driving the nostalgia we feel as we age.
There were all the famous prints: Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, the bull, the flowers, the electric chair prints (one in pink, one in purple). There were large panels of Campbell’s soup cans. You can read about the socializing and the work that went on at Andy Warhol’s studio known as The Factory. But after driving an hour there is nothing unique about this art show. The sixties and seventies were alive with music yet museums do not use music to enhance their exhibits. We had the same old white art placards that have been gracing museum walls forever, but we could have something digital or even holographic. Andy Warhol would have been the perfect artist for this type of multi-media presentation. It could have been a show that captured the spirit of the era (without the smells I guess, although strawberry incense might have been fun) which was disturbing to some, but still so full of life and creativity, excitement, protest, and philosophy and really, really, great music.
I will say that the women who work in this museum are delightful. They befriended us and offered directions and they answered our questions about the exhibits, especially the home where the founders’ families lived in successive generations which has been restored and is part of the museum complex. This is a Victorian house in excellent repair and beautifully proportioned and it offers a taste of the wealth and elegance and yet quite ordinary lives of those who gave their wealth for this museum. I don’t think I have ever had such a friendly and informative interaction with the staff of any other museum I have visited. It was a nice expedition for a sunny weekday birthday. The exhibit closes after September 8th.
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