The Real Andy Warhol(a)

“Uncle Andy” is a documentary film about the iconic artist Andy Warhol told by the Warhola family. Produced by filmmakers Abby Warhola (Andy’s great-niece) and Jesse Best, the film captures stories told by Andy’s oldest brother Paul, along with the many nieces and nephews who grew up around the famous pop artist, revealing a side of Andy few have known before.

“Uncle Andy” is a documentary film about the iconic artist Andy Warhol told by the Warhola family. Produced by filmmakers Abby Warhola (Andy’s great-niece) and Jesse Best, the film captures stories told by Andy’s oldest brother Paul, along with the many nieces and nephews who grew up around the famous pop artist, revealing a side of Andy few have known before.

Having grown up near Pittsburgh, I’ve long known of Andy Warhol’s humble beginnings. Add to this the fact that I had the pleasure of growing up around the Warhola family; Andy’s nephew James Warhola and I are the best of friends and we were members of the same Tam O’Shanter arts program at Carnegie Museum that taught Andy (even having the same teacher as Andy, the legendary Joseph Fitzpatrick). So I can honestly say I thought I had heard all the stories and I knew all there was to know about the one-of-a-kind pop artist and cultural phenomenon that was Andy Warhol. Boy, was I wrong!

Since his untimely death in 1987, much has been written about Andy Warhol the artist. The Warhol Foundation was established and a museum which bears his name opened in his native Pittsburgh. Exhibits of his work have graced the walls of museums throughout the world and lectures about him have been given at major universities and art schools. Documentaries have primarily concentrated on his art, his studies and his impact on the very popular culture he satirized. But few if any have touched on his personal life, and none have deeply explored the man himself and, more importantly, the family and environment which cultivated his creativity and helped shape the person he would become.

In 2003 James Warhola introduced the world to the man he knew as Uncle Andy in his delightful reminiscence Uncle Andy’s, bringing Warhol and the colorful characters known as The Warholas (his family) to life in a children’s book for all ages which won the prestigious International Reading Association’s Award for Best Children’s Non-Fiction Picture Book. In 2007, the Warhola family created The Andy Warhola Family Album, an online showcase for rare photos and background on the artist, the family, and the restoration of the original Warhola family home on Dawson street in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. Now those reminiscences and family treasures have formed the basis for a new documentary project, “Uncle Andy’s”, by Andy’s great-niece Abby Warhola and partner Jesse Best.

Launched as a Kickstarter project, the documentary promises to reveal a never-before-seen side of the artist, a look at the man born of working class roots in the steel town of Pittsburgh and the story of how his family watched his rise to fame and fortune, all the while remembering the humble Uncle Andy they knew and loved. Personal stories fill the film, including poignant insights from the late Paul Warhola, Andy’s oldest brother, providing a look at the human side of the man who became arguably the most influential artist of our time. Even the most ardent admirer and Warhol aficionado should be surprised by some of the behind-the-scenes stories of Uncle Andy before he became “the” Andy Warhol.

“Uncle Andy” is an independently created project by Abby Warhola and Jesse Best. They do not have any affiliation or financial support from The Andy Warhol Museum or his foundation, so the success of this project hinges on the support of Kickstarter backers. I heartily recommend it, and I urge even the most casual fan of art and popular culture to help this project reach its goal. Our reward should prove to be a one-of-a-kind look behind the curtain of an artist and a celebrity we only thought we already knew.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1546349139/uncle-andy-the-andy-warhol-family-film

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