Back in August, it seemed as if there would be oodles of time to revisit “Andy Warhol: Other Voices Other Rooms,” the exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Time, however, has a way of speeding by faster than I anticipated. After this Sunday, the fabulous exhibit of everything Warhol that has taken over the entire art museum at The Ohio State University in Columbus will be dismantled.
The exhibit is a retrospective of Warhol’s life and work– and like Warhol’s work, it is an eclectic assortment of art, graphics, newspaper articles, videos and an interactive performance space. Every inch of the museum’s galleries have been used to create a Warhol world of sorts.
The first time I saw the exhibit was at the opening in August. My first response was wondering when Warhol ever sat down or slept. Along with his famous prints of Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s Soup and other cultural icons, there are many of the photographs he took, all the television episodes he created, and his interviews with people like John F. Kennedy Jr. and David Bowie. Each room offers a retrospective of certain aspects of Warhol’s creative interests, pursuits and perspectives. Woven throughout is his interaction with the world, himself and the arts. After he was shot and seriously wounded by Valerie Solanas, Warhol even turned that experience into art and commentary.
The room devoted to Warhol’s TV shows is one of my favorite sections of the exhibit, partly because of the effect of its execution. I noticed that while visitors sit on star-shaped stools watching whichever video screen captured their fancy, they became part of the exhibit in a way. Individual headphones allow for several people to sit at one time in front of their own individual screen while other people mill about taking in the entire scene of the room. This moving in and out between private and public experiences was one of the themes of Warhol’s life.
For anyone who has been influenced by popular culture and reality TV which, honestly, seems to be everyone I can think of, this exhibit is a look into Warhol’s vision of what was to become mainstream. Think of Joe the Plumber, Heather Mills McCartney, Harry Wittington, John Mark Karr, James Frey and who else? These are folks who represent Warhol’s phrase, “15 minutes of fame” referring to how celebrity status comes and goes quickly based on media attention. Although some people stick around longer than 15 minutes, the point is, the media helps create the celebrity. (The only person I could come up with off the top of my head was Joe the Plumber, so I found this article in Time magazine “15 people who had their 15 Minutes of Fame” to help me out. See? Fame is fleeting.)
If you do make it to the exhibit, take time to read about Warhol’s early life. You’ll find out how and why a person born in Pittsburgh to immigrants parents, one a coal miner, could grow up to be that eccentric, trendsetting fellow who wore wigs of platinum-blond hair.
To give people more time to see it, the Wexner Center has extended hours this coming weekend. Friday, February 13 (11 AM to midnight), Saturday, February 14 (10 AM to midnight), and Sunday, February 15 (10 AM to 8 PM). On Thursday from 4-8 pm, you can see the exhibit for free, otherwise there is a cost if you are over 12. Those 12 and under are free. Adults, $8; students, ages 13-17, and age 65 and older, $5.
Here’s a video tour of the exhibit, but the in person experience is this many times over. I’m planning on heading here again myself.