In preparation for the upcoming Andy Warhol exhibit at its Weeks Art Gallery, Jamestown Community College invited a relative of Warhol's to provide a unique perspective into his life and art.
On Tuesday, JCC hosted James Warhola, a nephew of the famous artist Andy Warhol. Warhola, also a noted artist and illustrator, was a guest of the President's Roundtable. He was introduced by Greg DeCinque, president of JCC, and gave a presentation on the life and works of his uncle. He employed a slide show displaying the various works and eras of Warhol's career and gave a firsthand account of his uncle's personality.
"I'm always thrilled to come to colleges and talk about my uncle," said Warhola. "A lot of times, people don't realize his family background and that he was a very successful illustrator, also. So my talks center around the fact that he was a very accomplished artist in the 1950s doing great illustration work. And of course, I became an illustrator because I was inspired by his work as an illustrator."
James Warhola, nephew of Andy Warhol, discusses his uncle’s life and career with students of JCC’s art program. The Andy Warhol exhibit at JCC’s Weeks Art Gallery will open on Feb. 2.
Warhola also noted a family connection to the city of Jamestown and considered his visit to the area to be a special occasion.
"I've always wanted to come here because my mother had said that she was born here and this is where my (maternal) grandparents met," he said. "So I wanted to tour the town a little bit, and I have some other friends who have connections to the area as well."
Warhola's visit to JCC was accomplished through the efforts of Elizabeth Booth, director of alumni affairs.
"We're really excited about the (Warhol) show that we have coming up at the Weeks Gallery in February," said Booth. "We were looking for a speaker who would help to get our college community excited about the show and we managed to get James to come and give us a new perspective on the art we'll be displaying."
According to Jim Colby, director of the Weeks Gallery, it was Andy Warhol's controversial visit to JCC in 1968 that served as the inspiration to start the process of obtaining pieces for an exhibit. After Warhol screened one of his experimental movies at the college, a negative review was written by Sarita Weeks, who was a member of JCC's board of trustees at the time, regarding the film and Warhol's demeanor during his visit. Weeks' review prompted a slew of about 26 editorials in The Post-Journal written by community members either defending or condemning the review and Warhol himself.
"There was always this story going on in the background that interested me and I knew some of the individuals who were here at that time," said Colby. "About six years ago, we applied for a Warhol grant; they were giving out around 154 original Polaroids of blacks and whites (taken by Warhol), so we sent for that and we were one of two or three Western New York museums who received these photographs. So I kept waiting to write grants to get mattes and to get framing to really do this right rather than right away. And then Ken and Lois Strickler donated (one of Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints) and all of a sudden I started researching the history. We had all the newspaper articles, we received the new work, we had the funding to move forward with the enlarging and framing and we had Marilyn's piece. So at that point we were ready to really put on a show."
The Warhol exhibit at the JCC Weeks Gallery will open to the public on Feb. 2. According to Colby, the exhibit's opening ceremony will touch on Warhol's commercial and illustrative works, showing his artistic diversity, and discuss his connection to Jamestown.