PaperCity Magazine

October 2017- Houston

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Page 41 of 147

— the fact that Andy kept and cherished them, even more so. Within are children's birthday cards, handwritten with "Dear Son" and "Andy, My Son" in Julia's signature calligraphic penmanship, as well as costume jewelry (kept in a plastic grocery bag for carrots!), her hats for church, and babushkas (scarves), remnants of both her Czech heritage and her monumental role in her youngest son's life. Random experiences or people often remind me of the TCs, especially certain musicians or film and TV stars. Every time I see Rob Lowe on screen, I chuckle: A hilarious moment for the museum staff was finding a wallet-sized portrait of a nude Lowe (circa 1984) wrapped in a giant plush toy snake acting as his fig leaf. The young and aspiring actor, an Interview magazine cover story May 1984, even included a flirtatious personal note to Andy on the back of the photo. TC471, known to Warhol archivists as "the Halston TC" or "the Muppets TC," dates from 1980-1983. It contains a plethora of Muppets toys and clothing, each inscribed and gifted "To Andy, Happy Birthday XXOO Halston" by the fashion designer of the 1970s and '80s, Roy Halston Frowick (1932- 1990). Why the Muppets? Halston appeared on The Muppet Show, and designed Miss Piggy's wedding dress (based on Princess Diana's) in the film The Muppets Take Manhattan. A Kermit the Frog mug and baseball jacket, Miss Piggy doll (signed on her belly) and pink track shoes, and other Muppets regalia are playful and endearing reminders of the close friendship between Warhol and Halston, dating back to the days of Studio 54. (The museum included this TC alongside hats and gowns worn by Jackie Kennedy and Liza Minnelli in the 2014-2015 exhibition "Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede," one of many opportunities to incorporate the TCs into The Warhol's traveling exhibitions.) A large section of TCs are filing-cabinet drawers, something Warhol wanted to try out after seeing the studio of Yoko Ono and admiring how organized she was. He eventually abandoned the cabinets and went back to his trusty cardboard boxes; the ephemera that he kept was too robust and diverse to be housed in files. However, the cabinets do provide marvelous collections of photographs, such as those depicting fashion shows and galas, and candid shots of Warhol and pals Mick Jagger and John Lennon and fellow superstar artists Jean- Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Robert Rauschenberg. The photograph of Julia Warhola that was the source for the portrait painting of his mother was also found here. Benjamin Liu, Warhol's assistant in the early '80s, came to visit and open a TC in front of a live audience in the museum's theater. The year was 2014. With reporters from the BBC present, we unsealed TC528 — which, fortuitously, contained a gift box with a note in Liu's own handwriting among a bunch of very 1980s things. We handed him the box, and with an anxious crowd, he pulled off the lid to find a very "bling" belt buckle, crafted of gold in the shape of the name "Andy." After the laughter subsided, Liu recalled the story of when he gave it to Andy, who was gracious but probably less than thrilled to receive it. You can find the video clip on the Warhol's website. Mining the TCs was an engaging and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nevertheless, there were some duds — a few old, leaking batteries, for example. The team of catalogers dealt with the tedium of having to record descriptive details and inconspicuously write a corresponding catalog number in pencil on each and every item. This means that if a TC is full of junk mail, top to bottom, it could take hours, even days, to catalog thousands of pieces — from pizza menus to magazine subscription cards. My personal favorite (and I use that term loosely) of the duds is a box that, when opened, had nothing but beige-ish yellow and brown crumbs along with unmarked clear plastic bags. After some deliberation and inspection, the crumbs turned out to be disintegrated pizza dough and tiny carcasses of the bugs that lived in the micro-ecosystem that the TC created. The box was photographed, then emptied of its contents, and now only the shell remains. Some of the most intriguing TCs featured correspondence with other famous artists. One of Warhol's personal heroes was Salvador Dalí, and a particularly enticing box was opened early in the museum's history. It contained what first appeared to be crumbled-up wax paper with dried oil paint smudges. When the pieces were carefully removed and inspected, they were indeed discarded paint palettes, each bearing Dalí's signature, and the box even contained the marker that he used to sign them. Further, a connection was made to the day that Dalí had given them to Warhol (who called Dalí "sweet"), transcribed from Warhol's own tape-recorded recollection in the March 19, 1978, Palm Sunday entry in The Andy Warhol Diaries. The last TC to be opened — Time Capsule 500, dated 1984-1986 — was left sealed in anticipation of The Warhol's 20th anniversary gala in 2014. The lucky bidder received the insider experience of taking the first look at its contents with us Warhol archivists. While a worthy bid was placed by fashion designer Kiya Tomlin (wife of Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin), the winner was none other than Andy's first superstar, Baby Jane Holzer. On a specially arranged visit, Holzer flew in from her home in West Palm Beach and brought along her teenage nephews. We opened the box in great anticipation. Its contents: an aerosol can of pink- labeled "Love Spray" incongruously atop a stack of Sotheby's and Christie's auction catalogs. Tellingly, the catalogs were annotated with Warhol's own handwritten notes, indicating what he hoped to acquire for his ever-expanding personal collection. His Upper East Side townhouse featured a fabulous trove of high-low art and antiques, from the glamorous to the kitsch — a fitting subject for a future article. The shy boy turned Pop phenomenon had indeed come a long way from Pittsburgh, metamorphosing into one of the most impactful figures of the second half of the 20th century. Hat, 1950s, from Time Capsule -27, created in 1972 after Warhol's mom's death, is filled with many of her belongings. Collection The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. I GOT TO KNOW THE PERSON — NOT THE CELEBRITY, THE FAMOUS ARTIST, THE NEW YORK SOCIALITE, OR THE "KING OF POP," BUT THE FUNNY, INSECURE, SHY, OBSESSIVE, THOUGHTFUL, SOMETIMES HEARTBROKEN, AND CARING HUMAN BEING THAT HE WAS. 40 (continued from page 38)

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