Friday, October 2, 2009

Update on Pittsburg Trip

Here I am in Pittsburgh, after speaking at the Union Label and Service Trades Dept. -AFL-CIO's 68th convention. I spoke on the label department's history (and label history in general) to commemorate their 100th anniversary. Thanks to ULSTD president Richard Kline for inviting me (that's him in grey) and to Greg Kenefick of Kenefick Communications (in tan) for all his help.

My labels project is currently featured on the ulstd's web site and was also featured in the newsletter of the International Labor Communications Association (thanks to Steve Stallone and Fred Glass). You can see the presentation on my labor history slideshow page.

Maybe it's my Northern Michigan upbringing, but I am also a huge football fan. I was so focused on the details of my trip to Pittsburgh and New York, that I completely spaced out on the fact that the NFL season kickoff game was happening in Pittsburgh the same day I was flying in (Sept 10). I flew Jet Blue with a short stop over at Kennedy in NY. On the NY-PIT leg of the flight, almost everyone on the plane was wearing a black & gold Steelers jersey. On arrival, the city was crawling with fans. There was a free concert with the Black Eyed Peas and Tim McGraw. The Steelers won, and there were happy fans in the streets.

I didn't have a lot of time in Pittsburgh, but I did make it to the Warhol Museum. The range of Warhol's work never ceases to amaze me. The museum did a good job of representing it. There are 7 floors, each representing a different theme in Warhol's career. There was a floor dedicated to his celebrity pieces (including an entire gallery on the Rolling Stones), the factory era, to his record cover illustrations and advertising work, to Interview magazine, and other experiments and installations. The photo on the left is an installation of Silver Clouds, which I totally enjoyed; an entire gallery filled with these floating silver pillows.

Warhol also collected taxidermied animals (lions, dogs, etc...) which are displayed around the museum. He did "time capsules," a nice art historical way of categorizing his habit of throwing all the paperwork and other ephemera he didn't want to deal with in cardboard boxes and sealing them up when they got full. Apparently, there are hundreds of these, and the museum has a major project in sorting them out. It's hard, looking at it in hind-sight, to remember what a radical visionary Warhol was when he first appeared on the scene. The museum makes a real effort to put Warhol in the context of his time and influences, and I think they did a good job of it.