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Where’s Warhol? Pop-artist spotted in Greensboro

by Brian Clarey

Where’s Warhol? Pop-artist spotted in Greensboro

Andy Warhol cruised downtown Greensboro last week, his trademark platinum fop a source of illumination as he trod up and down Elm Street. It caused something of a stir, as Warhol has been dead since 1987.

Warhol paused under a streetlight.

Warhol dashed across Market Street. Warhol leaned against the bar, propped up his elbows and watched himself some jazz.

Warhol has been spied all over the district, sightings that coincide neatly with the Warhol Grant, worth $60,000 over two years, awarded to Elsewhere Artist Collaborative, that strange space across the tracks on South Elm Street.

For the uninitiated: Elsewhere lives inside two three-story walk-ups where proprietor George Scheer’s grandmother Sylvia ran a curio shop and surplus store; over 65 years she accumulated an astounding collection of American cultural and industrial detritus. The Warhol Grant enables Scheer and his collaborator Stephanie Sherman to invite 35 artists a year to come in and create installations with Sylvia’s wares: suitcases, action figures, books, furniture, bolts of cloth, dresses, hats, jewelry, telephones, typewriters, board games, baby dolls, lunch boxes… it would be easier to list the kinds of things that aren’t lurking somewhere within the confines of Elsewhere.

And Andy Warhol, Andy Warhol was the guy who painted a can of Campbell’s Soup and called it art. In acknowledgement of the grant, Elsewhere will hold a celebration of the artist and their space in downtown Greensboro called Where’s Warhol: An Extravaganza! which begins on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. and culminates in a brunch Sunday morning, New York-style.

“Warhol in many ways took commercialism and animated it in terms of art,” Scheer says, “and at the same time shoved it down everybody’s throats: ‘Look at all your commercialism!’

“They lapped it up,” he continues. He’s sitting on a low concrete wall embedded with glass soda bottles in the alley behind Elsewhere, which is slowly being transformed into a bohemian urban garden. Sherman sits on a folding chair. She’s holding a toy putter.

“The legacy we pass on is a store with nothing for sale,” Scheer says. “Warhol said, ‘Someday every department store will become a museum.’” “[Warhol] would go shopping,” Sherman says, “not even to buy anything, just as a form of entertainment. It’s the great American pastime.”

“The other side of the whole thing,” Scheer says, “is the Factory really made the whole Warhol thing work, and this was one of the original models for this collective-creative space.”

The Factory, Warhol’s ongoing salon/studio, enjoyed several locations in New York City but first found prominence in Midtown Manhattan, on 47th Street. Regular guests included everyone from Truman Capote and Mick Jagger to Lou Reed, “Baby” Jane Holzer and William Burroughs. It was in this Factory that Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanas, founder of a group called the Society for Cutting Up Men, or SCUM.

“Warhol’s real first love was film,” Sherman says. “These characters from the Factory felt like they were part of the story of his life. [At Elsewhere] we’re very narrative driven: These kids go into an old building, they start getting grants, these artists start to come in… it feels like a trope.”

“Warhol played America to America,” Scheer says. “Take this stuff. This excess. This surplus. Our goal is to repurpose these things. Warhol was repurposing the images. We’re repurposing the actual stuff.”

It’s Saturday, and Warhol has already had a full weekend making the scene. Now Warhol exists as a svelte half-mannequin bereft of arms, a female torso by the front counter of Elsewhere donned in the Warhol wig and glasses. Appropriate, taking into account Warhol’s famous quote about the city of Los Angeles: “Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

wanna go?

Elsewhere Artist Collaborative; 606 S. Elm St.; Greensboro; 336.549.5555; www.elsewhereelsewhere.org

Where’s Warhol: An Extravaganza! begins Saturday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.

Leftand inset: Elsewhere in Greensboro celebrates pop artist Andy Warholand the things he loved — shoes, bananas, popcorn and Campbell’s Soupchief among them. (photos by Brian Clarey)

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