Andy Warhol would have approved.The artist who forced us to take another look at everyday items and see them in a new way is getting more than just an exhibition of his work. "Pop Art," opening today at the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, is designed to be a celebration of all things Warhol, bringing the spectator in as a co-artist, and blurring the line between art and commerce, between artist and consumer. If money is how we keep score, it is worth noting that, since his death, pieces by Warhol have sold for up to a reported $100 million.
The first component of "Pop Art" is the most "normal" part of the show, a group of Warhol's iconic images. The larger-than-life artist's larger-than-life artwork is well-represented with Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse, and, of course, Campbell's soup cans. In addition to the works of art, Warhol artifacts including video installations and books will give additional insight into Warhol's life.
Just as Warhol created his work in what he called "the Factory," with assistants manufacturing the pieces under his direction, visitors to the art center will have the chance to try their hand at the creative process. In the Silkscreen Studio portion of the show, patrons can try a variety of pop art techniques, including pulling silk screens, stamping out patterns, and making objects such as Warhol's famous Brillo boxes using die cutters.
'Pop Art' with Andy Warhol
Where: Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, 26100 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs
Information: 239-495-8989 or www.artcenterbonita.org
■ Opening Reception
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5.
When: 9 to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 through Jan. 5, 2013.
Cost: $3 donation
■ Family Activity Days
When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays October through December. Features a mini lecture of the exhibition and “Pop Art” craft projects.
Cost: Free, but must register with the museum
Even the Factory is represented, where visitors can don fancy dress such as the characters in Warhol's artwork and films, and play with toys such as the ones he collected. On Saturdays through December, family activity days will offer a mini-lecture and a variety of "pop art" projects for visitors to create and take home.
Unlike most shows, which come to local institutions prepackaged, the art center took a core of images from the Warhol Museum and the Children's Museum of Art, both in Warhol's hometown of Pittsburgh, and assembled their own Warhol exhibit piece-by-piece.
"We curated the show ourselves," said art center President Susan Bridges, who has a keen interest in Warhol and his place in 20th-century art. "Think of what Warhol did. He took art from abstract expressionism; a moody, angst-filled look inside the artist's inner consciousness, and brought it into the modern world of commercialism. He took the '50s, the tract housing and assembly lines, and blew it apart."
Warhol said he wanted to be a machine, and famously stated that, "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."
"Warhol would say, 'Liz Taylor drinks a bottle of Coke, and a panhandler takes the dollar you give him, and gets that same bottle of Coke. We are all equal.'
"Warhol was a pointer, bringing us slowly along to the place he was 50 years ago," Bridges said.
For the show's opening on Saturday evening, which is free and open to the public, the center is going all-out, she said. They will have Warhol look-alikes strolling around, taking Polaroid photos, and handing them to guests, live '60s and '70s-themed music and dance and refreshments from the same era, which Bridges described as "psychedelic cupcakes without the drugs."
The exhibit will hang through Jan. 5, but the opening sounds like today's equivalent of what, in Warhol's heyday, might have been called a "happening" — a rollicking, unpredictable and joyful event.
"We're going to have a really good time," Bridges said.