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Andy Warhol prints on display at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

TARPON SPRINGS — Artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) once said he wished he had died so he could get the whole thing over with.

Twenty-five years ago, he got his wish after undergoing a routine gall bladder operation. But not before he had created colossal amounts of Andy candy — pop art portraitures that exist in private collections and museums all over the world.

And now, at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

"Works by Warhol" is an exhibition on display through July 15 that features 35 large-scale screen prints from a private collection. Many are part of two series of prints, both created in the 1980s.

Mark your calendar for Saturday's Warhol Community Day party, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. That is, unless you have to stay home and dye your eyebrows, as the pale-skinned Prince of Pop Art would say.

Saturday's Andy-ful activities include hands-on screen printing, Warhol-style photography opportunities, and guided tours of the exhibition. Children will be treated to Warhol-inspired face painting, storytelling and videos.

Wes Cochran of LaGrange, Ga., who owns the Warhol collection with his wife, Missy, plans to give gallery talks at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Refreshments include a tower of Twinkies.

You may want to wear something silver, being that it was Warhol's favorite color.

"He loved silver because it was the color of the future, like space rockets," said museum curator Lynn Whitelaw. "It's also the color of the past, like the silver screen. Most importantly, it is the color of narcissism — mirrors are made of silver."

Warhol's studio walls were covered in Mylar.

As visitors will see, Warhol was also a fan of diamond dust, which he used to glam up some of his art as seen in the print series Myths (1981) which showcases Superman, Santa, Uncle Sam, Mickey Mouse, Howdy Doody and others.

The exhibition also includes images from another major print series, Cowboys and Indians (1986). General George Custer, John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt, Geronimo and Sitting Bull are all happily situated next to each other along with prints of Indian head and buffalo head nickels.

Money was important to Warhol, who grew up in an impoverished family. After struggling during his transition from an extremely successful commercial illustrator to pop art painter, he paid a friend $50 to give him advice on what would sell.

She told him to paint what he loved.

He started painting dollar bills along with Campbell's soup cans and other commodities. He began turning ordinary, everyday objects into sensational works of art with the simple use of repetition, overlapping lines, and bright, often atypical color.

Those simple objects and his portraits of celebs like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor made him one of the 20th century's most influential artists.

Warhol once said, "Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches."

Well, Andy, here's 12 more to add to your collection.

Have a Diversions feature event? Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

IF YOU GO

Works by Warhol

Where: Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road

on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College

Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and

Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday;

and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays and major holidays.

Admission: $5 adults, $4 seniors, free to children, students and military families. Sundays are free (donations accepted) with 2 p.m. docent tours.

Info: (727) 712-5762 or www.spcollege.edu/museum

Saturday's event: Warhol Community Day is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Free with museum admission. Exhibit continues through July 15.

Andy Warhol prints on display at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art 06/07/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 7, 2012 6:02pm]
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