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     Picture yourself in New York City circa 1970-1980. In that time, and in that place, art ruled. The glamorous people rushed to gallery openings. Artists gained as much notoriety as pop stars. In fact, pop stars flocked to the artists. One man set the tone for that time: Andy Warhol.
     Born the child of Ukrainian immigrants in a city known for steele (Pittsburgh), Warhol reinvented himself as an American painter, printmaker, filmmaker and leader of the pop art movement. His studio, known as The Factory, was one of the city’s hottest spots. Everyone from street people to intellectuals, to Hollywood celebrities to debutantes, sought entry into his circle. He not only welcomed them, he captured them on his prints, turning the celebrity into art.
     {mosimage} Fayetteville residents will get a chance to see the works that defined an era of glitz and glamor as the Fayetteville Museum of Art welcomes 38 Warhol works from the Cochran Collection for a two-week exhibit. The exhibit will be on display at the Festival Park Plaza Building beginning Thursday, April 23 and will remain on exhibit until Saturday, May 2. The event is expected to be one of the highlights of the Dogwood Festival.
     “We are very excited to bring this exhibit to the Dogwood Festival,” said Tom Grubb, the director of the Fayetteville Museum of Art. “We’ve known for some time that we’ve wanted to be a part of the Dogwood Festival. In the past, our exhibits have been sanctioned events of the festival, but being so far removed from the downtown area, we really didn’t feel a part.”
     Grubb said the museum staff had been looking at ways to become a more intimate part of the festival. Their original thought was to host a consignment sale in a downtown facility. The museum made overtures to the Lundy Group, the owners of the Festival Plaza Building, about using some of their unoccupied space for the sale. Once they got a look inside, their ideas began to change.
     The building’s ground floor has more than 3,500 square feet of floor space. The Lundy Group gave the museum permission to reconfigure the space, and with that idea in mind, they began looking for an exhibit rather than a sale.
“We figured if we were going to be in the middle of the festival, we should make a statement and show the community how we, as a museum, can contribute to the downtown and events,” Grubb explained.
     He noted that when discussions about the proposed construction of a museum facility in Festival Park were underway, it was very  hard for the museum to show people in an abstract way how the museum could benefit downtown.
     “That was an idea that many people found hard to grasp,” said Grubb. “This facility and this opportunity have evolved into a way of showing on a larger stage how the museum fits into the area and what an important cultural asset it is downtown and for the entire community.”
     Grubb started making phone calls, and much to his surprise and delight, he found the touring exhibit of the Cochran Collection was available during the time period surrounding the Dogwood Festival. On Monday, April 13, Grubb and other museum staff packed up and drove to Georgia to accept the exhibit. The exhibit is comprised of 38 Warhol originals. Six of those works will be on display for free in the museum store in the Festival Plaza Building. The remaining 32 works will be on exhibition as a paid exhibit.
     He noted that while many of Warhol’s works deal with celebrity, many others deal with everyday objects and people, like the highly recognizable Campbell Soup print. “I think Andy Warhol would have been thrilled to walk up the plaza promenade and see all of the sights and sounds of the festival,” said Grubb.
     He said the flavor of the festival captures the excitement of Warhol’s works. “He took ordinary things and made them special,” he said. “He had the ability to make the common special, and that’s really what art does. It focuses us on what is unique.
     “We wanted an exhibition that speaks to everyone,” he continued. “and Warhol’s work does that. There are people who loved him, people who hated him, people who didn’t understand his work. His work created dialogue, and our education department is very excited about that because it lends itself to art-education projects.
     The department is planning on offering films, lectures and other educational venues for people to become acquainted with Warhol’s works. One important outreach program the museum is definitely planning is with the schools by making the exhibit free to the schools at various times during its run.
     The Cochran Collection is one of the finest collections of Warhol’s works around.  It contains some of Warhol’s most notable works, including a portrait of John Wayne; two prints entitled Moonwalk that chronicle Buzz Aldrin’s walk on the moon; a print of rock icon Mick Jagger; and a series of prints dealing with the Old West, which include prints of Geronimo, General Custer and Annie Oakley.
     In addition to these works, the museum staff will also complete an installation of sculptures made out of Campbell Soup cans. The soup was donated by the Campbell Soup factory in Maxton. Once the show is over, all of the soup will be donated to the local food bank.
     This is only the first of what Grubb hopes will be many such exhibits in the downtown area. “Our mission is to bring art to the community,” said Grubb. “And if we can do it in the Festival Plaza Building, then we will.”
     Grubb said that while the building had been suggested as a new home for the museum by the city-appointed Fayetteville Museum of Art Task Force, no decisions along those lines have been made.
     Just as the proposed museum was to house a gift shop and a cafe, the temporary museum space will do the same. The museum store will be the site of the free exhibit. The cafe, Uncorked, will offer light refreshments and wine throughout the course of the exhibition. He said they were not going to offer more than that because they did not want to compete with the festival vendors.
     “This is just one step forward,” said Grubb. “Andy Warhol said ‘Time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’ By making this temporary move downtown, we are stepping forward to show the community what we can be, and it’s pretty exciting.”

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