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Amy Baron Brourman, Annie Johnson, Ann McGuinn
What THEY support:
The Andy Warhol Museum
Why it matters:
“From the very beginning, it’s been about serving the community,” says Ann McGuinn.
Two years ago, when asked if she’d join the advisory board for The Andy Warhol Museum, Annie Johnson realized she didn’t know all that much about Andy Warhol beyond his Pop art masterpieces. So she went digging. It led the Cleveland native and mother of five to connect with the artist in a way she never expected: as a Catholic.
“Being a practicing Catholic, I find it such an interesting aspect of Warhol that he also identified as a practicing [Byzantine] Catholic, especially with the way he led his life and the conflict that may have caused,” says Annie.
“I think a lot of Catholics today can identify with that part of his story. I have a lot of people say to me, ‘I can’t believe you continue to go to mass after the scandal,’” she continues, referencing widespread sexual abuse by clergy. “I tell them it’s all I know. And maybe, in a way, that’s how Warhol felt. That he had to find what he could out of his faith for himself, and not let people destroy that faith for him, a faith that he shared with his mother. In that way I think he can connect with a lot of people.”
Ann McGuinn, a seasoned volunteer leader for Carnegie Museums who has been advocating for Andy and his museum since before the museum’s inception, says she, too, is compelled by this little-known part of the artist’s life and how it influenced his art. In honor of its 25th anniversary this past fall, The Warhol staged the first exhibition to deeply explore this topic, Andy Warhol: Revelation.
“Warhol’s interest in stardom and politics and religion—all of it was captured in many of his works, and now we see it,” says Ann, who has been a member of The Warhol advisory board since 1996. “It all started in Pittsburgh and his childhood church. It’s a fresh and fascinating look at Warhol.”
Ann and Annie teamed up with fellow Warhol advisory board member Amy Baron Brourman to throw a weekend-long celebration—a black-tie gala fundraiser and free community day—befitting the museum’s silver anniversary and the opening of the groundbreaking exhibition. Big milestones are ripe opportunities to bring new people into The Warhol’s fold, says Ann, who has chaired the celebration for each of the museum’s landmark anniversaries, including its grand opening weekend that welcomed some 14,000 guests. “From the very beginning, it’s been about serving the community,” she says.
Like Ann, Amy is a New York City native. Her interest in Warhol dates to high school, when she had a brief chance encounter with the artist. “It was 1979 or ’80,” recalls Amy. “I was in a back room of Studio 54 and I was introduced to Andy Warhol and Grace Jones, who were there hanging out. I was impacted by it.”
Years later, Amy ended up settling in Warhol’s hometown. During her three decades in Pittsburgh, she raised three children, started her own business, Samuel Baron Clothiers, and watched as The Andy Warhol Museum took shape.
“He helped transform the city culturally,” Amy says of Warhol. “Warhol’s legacy, his museum, is an undeniable part of the change. I find it empowering and gratifying to be part of it and to give back to the city.”
Today, the dedicated trio, each having connected with The Warhol at different times and in different ways, looks forward to continuing to champion the museum’s creative growth, inclusive programs for teens, and its standing as a destination for everyone, including families. Says Amy, “Clients ask if they should take their kids to the Children’s Museum, and I say yes, but you should also go to The Warhol.” Adds Annie, “I tell people to bring their kids. There’s a lot to learn and they’ll have fun doing it. For little people, the artwork is big and cool to look at. The colors and methods catch their eye and it’s always changing.
“We have to break down the walls of people thinking the museum is too ‘hoity-toity’ for them,” she continues. “For some people, walking into the museum is an intimidation factor. I always tell people, you should come in, look around, and take it for what you get out of it. You’ll probably be surprised by what you find.”
To learn more about giving opportunities at Carnegie Museums, contact Liz McFarlin-Marciak at email@example.com or 412.622.8859.
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