Revamped Wilkes gallery opens with Andy Warhol show

i Oct 5th 2017

By Charlotte L. Jacobson, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice 

Andy Warhol revolutionized pop art in the 1960s and turned into a household name.

Today, art aficionados can see his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and, starting this week, at the new Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University.

After two years of planning, the gallery reopens Friday, Oct. 6, in its new location at Karambelas Media Center, 141 S. River St., Wilkes-Barre, with the Warhol exhibit, “15 Minutes: From Image To Icon.”

Heather Sincavage, assistant professor and gallery director, assembled and curated the show over several months, coordinating with other colleges and universities to borrow Warhol pieces for this exhibit. Many came from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, which the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts established and which has donated more than 28,500 Warhol photographs to educational institutions across the United States. More than 180 colleges and university museums, galleries and art collections throughout the nation received a curated selection of original Polaroid photographs and gelatin silver prints.

“The goal was to target those colleges that couldn’t otherwise afford or have the means to get the art,” Sincavage said. “They wanted to expand the reach of Warhol’s body of work, widening access to Warhol.”

One of the universities to receive some of these pieces was Sincavage’s former employer, University of Maine at Presque Isle, so she could pull from pieces she already knew. The 78 pieces featured at the Wilkes exhibit are courtesy of that school plus the Maslow Collection at Marywood University, Dickinson College, Haverford College and the Warhol Museum.

Warhol helped define a new age of fine art and influenced society to, in turn, create pop culture. This exhibition examines his inspiration, process and wide impact on fine and commercial art.

“As I was getting into curating this exhibit, I got into the idea of mortality,” Sincavage said. “Warhol was full of flashy and superficial attachments, which is why I think his films are my favorite. He really slowed down how we look at things. The 13 screen tests might be seen as beautifully boring to some, but there is a sort of beauty in slowing down.”

“15 Minutes” splits Warhol’s career into three major groups: the Campbell’s soup can and pop art phase, his transition into film with the screen tests and, finally, how he flowed into the business of art, with portraits of celebrities and people who wanted to be portrayed in the vein of Marilyn Monroe.

Throughout the exhibit, guests can find QR codes next to pieces of art. Using a smartphone, art lovers can scan the codes to bring up more information about the individual pieces.

“I feel as though we’ve really tried to create an in-depth show,” Sincavage said, who hung up each piece.

A new era

In September 2015, Wilkes University announced plans to move the art gallery in order to “enrich the arts experience on campus for faculty, staff and, most importantly, students while contributing to the cultural life of Wilkes-Barre and the Wyoming Valley,” president Patrick F. Leahy said in a statement. A three-part plan to revitalize the gallery included de-accessioning, or selling off the current collection of art; hiring a faculty member to run the art gallery; and moving the gallery to a more public location.

In the Karambelas Center, the new Sordoni Art Gallery takes up 3,200 square feet, more than double the space of the old gallery, Sincavage said.

“I think with the strategic plan, president Leahy was looking to be far more accessible than we were over on (the former gallery on) River Street,” she said. “We’re (now) able to take on diverse kinds of exhibitions. It was hard to do larger-scale or sculpture art in the old space. … It’s great to have this substantial endowment now, so we can get these high-profile artists that are accessible for local residents.”

In addition to the exhibit, the gallery will host the Warhol Wednesday Lecture Series to delve deeper into the artist and his work. They include a curator’s tour of the gallery on Oct. 11, “Andy Warhol Is a V: Philosophical Bachelorhood & the Celibate Factory” by Dr. Benjamin Kahan of Louisiana State University on Oct. 25 and “Andy and the Rusyns” by Dr. Elaine Rusinko of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, on Nov. 15.

“That one focuses on his Eastern European roots,” Sincavage said of the final lecture. “I think it’s especially interesting because of the high population of Eastern European heritage in this area. It’s a way for people to relate to him since he seems so New York, but he was really from a modest background. It’s very much a part of his life.”

The lectures take place at 4:30 p.m. in KC Room 135. All Sordoni exhibits and events are free and open to the public.

Contact the writer: cjacobson@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2061; @CVcljacobson

If you go

What: Andy Warhol, “15 Minutes: From Image to Icon”

Where: Sordoni Art Gallery, Karambelas Media Center at Wilkes University

141 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre

When: Oct. 6 through Dec. 20

Ribbon-cutting ceremony, Oct. 6, 4:30 p.m.

Opening reception, Oct. 6, 5 to 7 p.m.

Lecture Series: Oct. 11: Curator’s tour by Heather Sincavage;

Oct. 25: “Andy Warhol Is a V: Philosophical Bachelorhood & the Celibate Factory” by Dr. Benjamin Kahan of Louisiana State University; Nov. 15: “Andy and the Rusyns” by Dr. Elaine Rusinko of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Contact: wilkes.edu/sordoniartgallery