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Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films

October 17, 7:00 PM
Between 1963 and 1968, Andy Warhol made approximately 60 films and over 500 “screen tests”—three- to four-minute cinematic portraits of anyone he found interesting hanging around his famed Factory studio space in Manhattan. Warhol’s most famous work from those five years, like Sleep, the eight-hour film of artist John Giorno sleeping; Kiss, in which various couples are filmed kissing for three minutes at a time; and Empire, an eight-hour, slow-motion film focusing solely on the Empire State Building at dusk, are now art and film school staples, sacred tomes for anyone exploring experimental cinema. But even as Warhol’s influence as a filmmaker continues to endure, large swaths of his film output remain unseen by the public. 
 
Since gaining the copyrights to Warhol’s film catalog from the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, The Andy Warhol Museum has been hard at work digitally preserving his work and developing compelling ways to exhibit it to audiences. As the museum caps off its 20th anniversary of operation this fall, the latest deep dive into the Warhol film archives is explored through a once-in-a-lifetime event that celebrates not only Warhol’s artistry, but those he inspired.
 
Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films will screen 15 newly uncovered short films from Warhol’s ‘63-‘68 period and pair them with original, live-music accompaniment performed by a murderer’s row of Warhol acolytes, including Galaxie 500 and Luna frontman Dean Wareham, Suicide’s Martin Rev, Television’s Tom Verlaine, The Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger, and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox. The Warhol Museum partnered with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the UCLA Center for the Art of Performance for the event, an extremely limited tour of three shows. The first show takes place in Pittsburgh on Friday, Oct. 17.
 
Exposed is a continuation of the ideas explored in the 2006 event, 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. Commissioned by the Warhol Museum, 13 Most Beautiful featured Wareham and his wife/bandmate Britta Phillips writing and performing original work for 13 of Warhol’s famed screen tests. The program was a smashing success and eventually toured internationally with nearly 80 performances, paving the way for the more ambitious plans of Exposed.
 
“[13 Most Beautiful] really hit a nerve with me. I was dumbfounded by its success. It showed me that there is a real appetite for exhibiting Warhol’s films in a performance mode,” said Ben Harrison, Curator of Performing Arts at the Warhol Museum.
 
To select the films, Warhol Museum Curator of Film and Video Geralyn Huxley and Greg Pierce, Assistant Curator of Film and Video, traveled to Hamlin, McKean County, where MoMA maintains The Celeste Baros Film Preservation Center, an $11.2 million state-of-the-art archive currently housing all the original prints of Warhol’s films. After watching over 150 short films, including more of Warhol’s screen tests and many others shot with his Bolex camera, Huxley and Pierce brought back roughly 35 films to Pittsburgh.
 
“Some of the films selected are very early works, just Warhol deciding what he wanted to do with the camera,” said Huxley. “We made sure that the films we initially picked stood on their own and were visually interesting.”
 
The screen tests in particular were shot during the rapid growth and heightened hysterical evolution of The Factory’s robust artistic scene. Warhol filmed these portraits originally at normal speed, then slowed them down when projected which, according to Harrison, would “create this kind of levitating, mysterious quality where every little wink or smile, was a revelation.” Warhol managed to capture on film hundreds of ‘60s luminaries, like Marcel Duchamp, Allen Ginsberg, Mario Montez, Marisol, Taylor Mead, Jack Smith, Mary Woronov, Edie Sedgwick, and even himself. Beyond their aesthetic value, they also serve to document a pivotal moment in American art.
 
“Just as artifacts, these films are amazing,” said Wareham. “The essential thing with the screen tests especially is just the sadness of them. Being able to looking at these people frozen in time in their youths when you know some of the stories that happened to them. More and more these important figures from that era of The Factory are not here. Even Warhol himself...it’s sad that Warhol is not here.”
 
Harrison enlisted Wareham to take on something like a guest curator role for Exposed. Not only would the musician be involved in selecting films for exhibition, he was tasked with putting together performers -- five artists scoring three films each -- that could do justice to Warhol’s unique filmmaking perspective. Wareham immediately thought of Tom Verlaine and Martin Rev, two of his artistic heroes who, in his own words, “both have a sort of cinematic quality with what they do to their music.” They also represent the post-Velvet Underground New York City landscape of ‘70s punk and art rock with their seminal bands Television and Suicide.
 
Wareham and the American underground rock of Galaxie 500 and Luna through the late ‘80s and ‘90s bridges the artistic gap between Verlaine and Vega, and Friedberger and Cox’s work throughout the 2000s. On stage, the lineup will represent three generations of American musicians who feel indebted to Warhol’s influence, expressed through their music in wildly different fashions: the doomy proto-electronica punk of Rev’s Suicide, the wiry, intricately woven guitar epics of Verlaine’s Television, Wareham’s pared-down dreamy psychedelic rock, Friedberger’s nervy, hyper-literate indie Americana, and Cox’s intimate, avant-garde garage rock.
 
For Harrison, the eclecticism and shared enthusiasm of the musicians involved with Exposed is a testament to the impact Warhol’s genius had on such a wide spectrum of creative people, and how that legacy continues to remains vital 27 years after his death.
 
“Warhol is still a very key touchstone for a lot of artists and musicians,” he said. “For me, [Exposed] is about demonstrating Warhol’s relevancy in culture still, and how that influence is unwavering.”

The Pittsburgh Art House hosts Cohesia: Thrice

With the rising costs of living across the East End gradually starting to price out some business owners and residents, it’s very exciting (and promising) to still see art collectives, such as the long-surviving Pittsburgh Art House, calling neighborhoods like Highland Park home. The Pittsburgh Art House, a communal living space for an array of artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, and filmmakers, has, somehow, managed to host a pretty consistent slate of programming, including concerts and gallery openings, in the middle of a residential area over the past four years. And the crown jewel of their yearly exhibitions is Cohesia, a daylong music, art, and apparel show that provides an excellent cross-section of Pittsburgh's creative communities. 

Local independent apparel retailers like TimebombHater Magnet Apparel CoDaily Bread,and Markav Clothing will be on site showing off their latest collections, while vendors will sell photography, painting, graphic design, jewelry, sculpture, glasswork, and pottery. DJs will kick off the afternoon activities, with live music later in the evening. The event will also feature alcoholic beverages, raffles, door prizes, and opportunities to provide support for local art nonprofits. All of Cohesia will be filmed as well in an effort to compile a "Pittsburgh art portfolio...[which will] be posted online as ‘The Cohesia Concept’ and will display the work of everyone involved," according to the organizers.

For more information about Cohesia: Thrice, visit www.pittsburgharthouse.wordpress.com. (5903 Stanton Ave, Highland Park, The Pittsburgh Art House)
 
 

The Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh’s Top 10 Event

October 21, 6:30 PM
On Tuesday, Oct. 21, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh is unveiling the 2014 iteration of their top 10 preservation opportunities in the region, highlighting major pieces of the city’s architectural history that able to be adapted for reuse and could be vulnerable against the rising tide of private development. YPA’s 2013 list focused on areas like The Hill District, Homewood, Hazelwood, Forest Hills, and Wilkinsburg-- neighborhoods and outlying boroughs that haven’t yet been affected drastically by development over the past 10 years but have benefitted from an influx of public investment.

The YPA compiles its annual list based on nominations from community members. Among its list of recommendations over last decade, YPA counts preserved and restored sites such as the Armstrong Cork Factory, The Union Project, and The Dormont Pool. The 2014 list will provide the focus for YPA’s programming over the coming year as the organization continues its mission to raise awareness about preservation efforts among a new generation of community stewards.

The North Side Elks Lodge, home to the celebrated Pittsburgh Banjo Club Night, will host the event with food and beverages and will collect donations to help renovate their own historic building. For event and ticket information, visit
www.youngpreservationisits.org. (400 Cedar Ave, North Side, Elks Lodge)
 

Pittsburgh Contemporary Writer Series presents Mother Jones founder and author Adam Hochschild

October 16, 8:30 PM
Oakland  
The Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series hosts nationally renowned author, journalist, lecturer and Mother Jones founder Adam Hochschild this Thursday evening at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

Hochschild is the author of seven nonfiction books, including the critically acclaimed King Leopold’s Ghost, which explores the exploitation of the Congo Free State by King Leopold of Belgium at the turn of the 20th century. Hochschild also wrote To End All Wars, a scathing exploration of the horrors of World War I through its critics, victims, generals, and heroes. In addition to his continued work with Mother Jones as a board member and contributor, Hochschild’s writing has been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic.

Hochschild has also poignantly examined his personal life through his 2005 memoir Half of the Way Home: a Memoir of Father and Son, which plumbs the depths of his complicated and strained relationship with his father, the head of a multi-national mining corporation.

Hochschild is one of six acclaimed authors feted by the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series during their 2014-2015 season. The PCWS aims to bring notable writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, and will feature Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo on Nov. 20.

For more information about the about the PCWS and an upcoming schedule, visit pghwriterseries.wordpress.com. (Frick Fine Arts Building, Oakland)
 
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