Places to Visit in Scotland
- The Cultural Legacy of Andrew Carnegie - Pittsburgh USA (Page 2)
The Andy Warhol Museum is one of the four museums within the cultural remit of the Carnegie Institute. It is the largest and most comprehensive single-artist gallery in the world.
"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
Andy Warhol (Andrew Warhola) was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, the son of Slovak immigrants. Andy showed an early talent in drawing and painting and after high school he studied at the Carnegie Institute College of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh.
Unique, eccentric and living in his own fantasy world, Warhol is considered by many as the most influential American artist of the 20th century. His signature style used commercial silk-screening techniques to create identical, mass-produced images on canvas. Warhol first applied his silkscreen techniques as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s working on shoe adverts. His initial forays into Pop Art came in the early 1960s with his Coca-Cola Bottles and sculptures of Brillo Boxes, which brought worldwide recognition. Warhol's depictions of everything from Campbell's Soup Cans to the face of Marilyn Monroe provide a revealing commentary on contemporary American society, the media and the role of the celebrity. Warhol died in his prime, in New York on February 27, 1987 after a gallbladder operation.
The aim of the Andy Warhol Museum - which spans across seven floors - is to form an essential archive for his vast collection of work. This comprises 900 paintings, 77 sculptures, thousands of drawings, films and photographs as well as invaluable early illustrations and sketchbooks. Warhol was the ultimate hoarder and an incredible amount of ephemera surrounding his daily life and work has been stored in 608 'time capsules'. These include letters, magazines, books, diaries, audiotapes, scripts and personal belongings. The museum has opened 100 of these cardboard boxes for cataloguing with selected material from 15 boxes put on display. You could browse for hours around glass cabinets containing hand written letters, invitations to gallery private views and glamorous parties in New York. Amongst his collection of celebrities' clothes are Jean Harlow's dress and Clark Gable's shoes.
The museum offers art classes to encourage children to follow in Warhol's footsteps. On Friday nights - Good Fridays - the gallery is open till 10pm with a cash bar, films and lectures to draw a young crowd. Just as Warhol enjoyed a lively, club and cultural scene in New York, this museum, created to commemorate and preserve his work, is an alive, creative and happening place.
Linking Pittsburgh and Scotland once again, it is interesting to note that 20 works of art have been lent from the Andy Warhol Museum to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh for a special exhibition, Warhol on Warhol self-portraits. (12 February - 2 May, 2005.)
"In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes"
The Mattress Factory
Warhol's legacy for bold, innovative creative art continues in Pittsburgh at the Mattress Factory. This contemporary art gallery is housed literally in an old mattress factory within the historic Mexican War Streets in the city's North Side, a preserved community of 300 houses built around 1850s. With the tag line, "Art you can get into", the museum acts as a research laboratory and commissions artists from around the world to create specific installations for the space. Always breaking new ground and showing something radically different, a recent exhibition was Artists in Residence - Cuba. The only problem was that the 11 artists were forbidden to travel from Cuba to Pittsburgh. But through careful collaboration, the stunning, thought-provoking work was created on their behalf. The whole exhibition was given a curious edge by being able to see this diverse range of art by a group of absent artists. The meaning behind their work - freedom, social and political issues - became all the more powerful.
The Cultural District
Fourteen blocks within the Downtown district is known as the Cultural District. The culture of Pittsburgh goes beyond the visual arts and other wealthy city entrepreneurs were also generous benefactors. The Heinz Hall, with its marble staircase and furnished in classic red and gold, is the home to the world renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Nearby is the 2,800-seat Benedum Center for Performing arts, opera, dance and ballet as well as pre Broadway shows. And for theatre check out what's on at the Byham and the O'Reilly theatres.
Shopping, Dining and Visitor Attractions
First the most important fact. There is no sales tax on clothes and shoes in Pittsburgh. The city offers superb shopping opportunities in the Downtown district, including the major stores, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Kaufmann's. Located just across the river from downtown Pittsburgh Station Square is now an historic landmark. Formerly the freight yard and terminal for the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, it has been renovated into a unique shopping, dining, and entertainment concourse. One of the highlights is the Grand Concourse restaurant, which was the old station waiting room. Retaining original stained glass windows, booth seating, and signage it's an elegant place to enjoy fine seafood. Nearby Station Square is the Monongahela Incline Funicular Railway, which, along with the Duquesne Incline, a mile further west, takes visitors to the top of Mt Washington from where you will have a fabulous view over the city between the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers with their magnificent bridges.
Another part of town to visit for a daytime browse or nightlife is the Strip District.. It sounds like a red light district but traditionally the Strip District was a flat strip of land on the Allegheny River's south shore just east of Downtown, which was the industrial heartland of the city lined with warehouses, iron mills and glass factories. This is where Carnegie's steel mill was located. Today a complete renaissance has taken place where new bars, restaurants, funky boutiques, quality food stores have moved in. Experience the city's hottest nightlife here revolves around the jazz bars and nightclubs. The Strip is a favourite weekend destination for Pittsburghers and is a must-see for out-of-town visitors. Here you'll find great places to eat such as the Primanti's, a traditional diner which has been serving fast food since 1933. Even Carnegie is here - as part of a mural of famous local heroes. Try one of their famous sandwiches such as steak, tomato, cheese, coleslaw and French fries inside one enormous bun.
Lidia's Italian restaurant opened along the Strip in 2001 following the success of Lidia's in New York and Kansas City. The restaurant's specialties include Pasta Trio - three fresh (homemade) pasta dishes served with unlimited refills. The design of the stunning old industrial building is worth a visit as much as for the signature cuisine.
Where to Stay
Tried and tested is the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel on Sixth Street, in the centre of the Downtown Cultural District. It's a magnificently restored architectural landmark building with the most amazing entrance hall and elegant staircase. Bedrooms offer homely comforts and a taste of luxury with all mod cons - Internet access, in room movies, minibar and bathrobes. The Opus restaurant serves (probably) the best breakfast in town to set you up for your day exploring the city.
Pittsburgh enjoys a great location for visitors. It's within a two-hour flight or a day's drive of over 70% of the US population. From the UK, US Airways (highly recommended) offers daily flights to Pittsburgh throughout the year from London Gatwick and Manchester, and from Glasgow during the summer months.
This is certainly a city for art lovers, but whether you simply enjoy the buzz and bustle of city life, Pittsburgh is a fascinating destination of contrasts, blending history and heritage with a vibrant contemporary attitude and atmosphere. Its famous son Andrew Carnegie was the ultimate entrepreneur always on the lookout for what was new and innovative in order to succeed. He would surely be proud of the sparkling new-look Pittsburgh of the 21st century and that his legacy, to bring arts and culture to the city, lives on in great style.
Vivien's itinerary was arranged by the Great Lakes of North America.
In the UK call Cellet Travel Services on 01564 794999 for a visitor guide.
For more information on Pittsburgh check out the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site.
Some of the images in this feature were taken by Vivien Devlin and a number well also supplied by the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Flights to Pittsburgh were by US Airways.
Vivien stayed at The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel: rooms start from $149 per room per night and can be booked by calling the hotel direct on (001) 412 562 1200 or via their Web site.
© Vivien Devlin
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