World Café at The Warhol
by Margie Romero
Chris Griffin, WYEP music director, packed a week's
worth of work into two days when the popular radio program World Café came
to The Andy Warhol Museum on June 28 and 29. The event marked the fifth year that "A
Week At the Warhol," which included live performances as well as dialogue
between host David Dye and the musicians, was taped at the museum.
Featuring five recording artists programmed by Griffin, the sessions will
be aired on five consecutive days in July on WYEP, 91.3-FM, and almost 150
other World Café affiliates across the country. (Tune in to WYEP for exact
The programs included two tapings on Friday evening and
three on Saturday afternoon. During these recording sessions each artist
performed in front of a live audience in The Warhol's 100-seat theater.
Later on Saturday, all five acts took the outdoor stage for the Fifth
Annual WYEP Summer Music Festival. The free concert was held a block from
the museum on the green space along the riverbank known as Allegheny
Griffin was pleased with the musicianship in this year's
show. "This was a really incredible line-up for us," he says. For
the broadcast, Raul Malo, formerly with the West Texas rock band The
Mavericks, was in the spotlight with his Latin-tinged vocals. Patty
Griffin, well loved in Pittsburgh, played guitar and sang cuts from her
recent album, "1000 Kisses." Jeb Loy Nichols brought his
blue-eyed soul with a touch of the islands. Blues-branded guitarist Corey
Harris offered tracks from his new disc "Downhome Sophisticate,"
and the pop-rock singer/songwriter Maia Sharp performed songs from her
For many in attendance the biggest thrill of the event
was the chance to see World Café originator, David Dye, in person.
"He's a Philadelphia radio legend," says Griffin of the WXPN DJ,
who works out of a studio on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
"David Dye does a fantastic job of interacting with his subjects. He's
a phenomenal interviewer with a quick-witted music mind."
Dye has been broadcasting since he was a freshman at
Swarthmore University in the 1970s and still lives in Philadelphia with his
wife, a columnist, and their two children. Along with WXPN program director
Bruce Warren, Dye launched World Café 10 years ago when he sat down with
Bruce Coburn in a small West Philadelphia studio for a few songs and some
low-key conversation. Now, a decade later, the program has more than 2,000 interviews
in its archives, including World Café alumni Sarah McLachlan, David Gray,
Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Jewel, and David Bowie.
"One of the best things David does is listen. I
think that's the secret of all good interviews. Listening allows the conversation
to develop naturally," Griffin says. Griffin believes The Andy Warhol
Museum Theatre is an excellent place to listen. "As a venue it's
really good," he says. "The acoustics are right and it's
intimate. The immediacy of whatever forum of music you're dealing with from
the artist really becomes apparent because you are right there.
Thomas Sokolowski, director for The Warhol, is pleased
at the partnerships established through this project. "We enjoyed working with our local
partner, WYEP, and sharing insights related to Warhol across the nation
through the World Café."
World Café airs its two-hour program on WYEP Mondays
through Fridays. The first hour is broadcast from 5 to 6 a.m.; the second
hour from 6 to 7 p.m. On Fridays, the entire program airs from 6 to 8 p.m.
World Café is distributed by Public Radio International.
Next to the Art at The Warhol: Voices of Interpretation
The communication between arts professionals and arts
patrons is one of the most controversial issues in the museum world today.
Some people believe the art should speak for itself, with a minimum of
accompanying signage. For example, Roberta Smith, writing in The New York Times about this year's
Whitney Biennial, described the show's wall texts as "irritatingly
patronizing." Others, however, believe insightful labeling can
surprise regular gallery-goers and offer emerging viewers an additional way
into a piece.
The Andy Wahol Museum has made a unique and decisive
choice in its labeling project, which it calls "Diversity of Voice in
Spearheaded by Curator of Education Jessica Arcand, the
labeling project offers points of view from a wide range of community
members about the life and art of Andy Warhol. Presented in short written texts
of approximately 75 to 100 words, these personal perspectives are placed on
the wall next to specific works of art.
According to Arcand, Voice emphasizes the many ways of
looking at a work of art. "Contemporary art is often marred in the
public's eye as elite and far removed from everyday experience, when in
actuality much of the artwork created today is about the world around
us," she says. "It is this relevancy that makes hearing the
observations of those approaching art from their own experience so
At first glance,
Brillo Boxes sends a shudder
through me: I hate to scrub pots and pans.
But like a good consumer, I buy Brillo pads because nothing works
better on burnt macaroni and cheese.
I really love the yellow box.
Not because it’s a “3 cents off pack: that shade looks like the kind
of packages linint the shelves of both my grandmothers’ kitchens. They raised lots of children in the
1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s in roomy brick houses in old Pittsburgh
neighborhoods. The white boxes
conjure up the mood of the ‘50s and ‘60s: bigger and bolder like the
“modern” kitchens where the shiny appliances were supposed to make the
tasks easier. But they still needed
Joyce A. Gannon, journalist and
having a fairly heady discussion about art, religion, and culture by the
time we climbed onto the fifth floor and breathlessly approached the Brillo Boxes. There my thoughts wandered from connections between religious
icons and pop culture to a small closet in my kitchen where I have a
similar box, crumpled and rusty, stuffed between the Windex and the Comet
my years of scrubbing with sponges, mops and steel wool, I have rarely
stopped to notice the packaging. I just ripped the boxes open and started
my work. But these elevated Brillo Boxes show me that we are surrounded by art. It lines the aisles of our supermarkets.
It decorates our homes, It festoons our trash bins: pungent red, flashing
yellow, telltale white.
pantry is now a gallery and my chores interactive art.
Rev. Gail Ransom, East-Liberty Presbyterian Church
A major tool of philosophical research is the
thought experiment-an imagined case that rhetorically inclines the
philosopher to come to a certain conclusion. Warhol’s Brillo Boxes functions as a
thought experiment, posing the question: “What makes Brillo Boxes an
artwork whereas its indiscernible counterpart, an ordinary box of Brillo,
is not?” This method-the method of indiscernible counterparts-has become a
frequent tool for framing problems in the philosophy of art.
Carroll, Professor of the Philosophy of Art, University of Wisconsin,
Pittsburgh artist and musician Christiane Leach says
this about one of the most
challenging works by Warhol, Oxidation,
which uses urine as a medium:
"The progressive artist is one who is hungry to
stretch all boundaries, heeding no calls of protest from the offended. The
elements in and around the world are seen with childlike excitement as a
playground for the creative pioneer. This kind of artist is ravenous to
create new textures, and forms, sifting many times through the overlooked
and the tabooed to find what is needed."
On a lighter note is the perspective of Dave Nelsen, CEO
of CoManage Software, who offers his perspective on Silver Clouds, the floating mylar pillows that once adorned
Warhol's Factory and now hover in their own gallery in the Pittsburgh
"Welcome to Cyberspace, the physical incarnation.
Like a snowflake, your visit here will be unique relative to every other.
Your experience will be interactive, although you can determine to what
degree. If you look carefully, you will see reflections of yourself. You
may also see other people, but not in the same way they see themselves.
When you leave, these moments will begin to fade from memory. The
experience can be repeated, but cannot be replicated. So it is in
cyberspace? and in life."
In the museum this inclusiveness of opinions by people
of all ages, races, backgrounds, and
jobs helps raise the Voice of the community - and the level of
communication between patrons and professionals. It fits the spirit of
Warhol's time and also the spirit of the current time. Diversity of Voice
in Interpretation furthers the museum's mission as a vital center that uses
the art and life of Andy Warhol as a touchstone for dialogue and