- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Andy Warhol is ever with us, and proved to be once again last Friday at Dupont Circle’s Irvine Contemporary gallery. Patrons crowding the show — “Celebrity Portraits From the Warhol Factory Years” — were treated to cookies decorated with a likeness of the artist from a portrait of him taken by photographer Curtis Knapp.

The work of Mr. Knapp, 54, a sometime Washington resident and former student at New York’s Parsons School of Design, was featured on the walls along with that of three other acolytes of the pop-art Svengali: Carl Fischer, Billy Name and Gerard Malanga. Limited editions, available for prices ranging from $1,500 to $8,000, were a walk down memory lane best defined by some as the Andy Warhol “Factory Years,” spanning the 1960s to the 1980s. Some of the photographic prints had never been shown before, and none had been displayed together, according to gallery owners.

The most expensive print portrays Mr. Warhol disappearing into a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, the mundane product that probably is his best-known iconic image from that era. Potent martinis won out over the cookies at the show, which drew many people too young to know “Andy” except by reputation.

A portion of sales from the DC Magazine-sponsored event — on the walls through March 31 — will go to the Patricia Sitar Center for the Arts, which sponsors art programs for underserved young people.

The percentage is yet to be determined, according to gallery co-owner Rick Boden, who argued that the exhibit wasn’t “a nostalgia thing. Photography is becoming a must-have art.” He had researched local nonprofits to find one that fit well with what he calls Washington’s growing “cultural-social-art scene” and explained the two-year-old gallery’s mission as “getting a mix of fashion, design and art rolled into one.”

The man arriving with close-cropped leopard-spotted hair probably came closest to that ideal.

The market is “really good,” gallery director and co-owner Martin Irvine said. “More and more young people are getting into it. It’s a demographic shift, really. We have young people with means who want to get into art. The interest in culture in general in the Washington area is very strong. We’ve had many repeat younger collectors already.”

That Mr. Warhol’s aura has a hold on young artists, too, was evidenced by a statement made by Jason Zimmerman, 27, of Mount Pleasant, a technical aide at the Corcoran Gallery who was in “third or fourth grade when Mr. Warhol died.” He sees the era’s importance in the way mainstream media combined with fine art, “whether you like his work or not.”

Ann Geracimos

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