(Editor’s Note: This post was first published on 22 August 2015.)
Yesterday was a warm, sunny day in Pittsburgh. I took a 16 ounce plastic bottle of ice out of the freezer of my refrigerator and left my apartment building and strolled deeper into Oakland. I live in what is referred to unofficially as North Oakland.
Oakland is the home to the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh. There were college students everywhere. The fall semester begins soon. I strolled over the bridge into Schenely Park.
Schenley Park borders the campus of Carnegie Mellon University. Students from CMU were walking down from their campus and into the park, most of them walking across the bridge into Oakland. I continued through the park. Schenley Park is a good park for walking. There are plenty of leafy trees and grass and hiking and jogging trails that you can explore as if you were in a forest.
I walked through the park and across the bridge at the other end of the park that leads into what is unofficially called South Oakland. I turned left onto Dawson Street.
Andy Warhol grew up at 3252 Dawson Street which was on my left and I walked several doors past 3252 Dawson Street and then I crossed the street and walked back to stand across the street from Andy’s old home where he grew up before enrolling in Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University).
There was hardly anyone else around. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m retired and often times when I go strolling around the streets of Oakland or Bloomfield (Little Italy), most people are either at work or at school.
Andy’s old neighborhood was a working-class neighborhood. The residencies on Dawson Street are modest structures, nothing fancy but pleasant. At least I find them pleasant. The photo of 3252 Dawson Street in this blog post is exactly the way it looked yesterday. It always amuses me that nothing identifies 3252 Dawson Street as the place where Andy Warhol grew up.
So I stood on the other side of the street and thought about the man and his work. I thought about how he took commercial illustration and fine art and celebrity and created something new, something different, something unique.
I thought about the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette…After a while I turned and headed back home. This is Guy Hogan reporting from Pittsburgh.
The following was sampled from Wikipedia.
Andy Warhol (originally Andrew Warhola, Jr.) was born on August 6, 1928 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Warhola (Americanized as Andrew Warhola, Sr., 1889–1942) and Julia (née Zavacká, 1892–1972), whose first child was born in their homeland and died before their move to the U.S. Andy had two older brothers, Paul (June 26, 1922 – January 30, 2014) and John Warhola (May 31, 1925 – December 24, 2010).
His parents were working-class Lemko emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková), located in today’s northeastern Slovakia, part of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Warhol’s father immigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921, after the death of Warhol’s grandparents. Warhol’s father worked in a coal mine. The family lived at 55 Beelen Street and later at 3252 Dawson Street in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The family was Byzantine Catholic and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol had two older brothers—Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born before the family emigrated; Ján was born in Pittsburgh. Pavol’s son, James Warhola, became a successful children’s book illustrator. About 1939, he started to collect autographed cards of film stars.
In third grade, Warhol had Sydenham’s chorea (also known as St. Vitus’ Dance), the nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever which causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. He became a hypochondriac, developing a fear of hospitals and doctors. Often bedridden as a child, he became an outcast at school and bonded with his mother. At times when he was confined to bed, he drew, listened to the radio and collected pictures of movie stars around his bed. Warhol later described this period as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.
As a teenager, Warhol graduated from Schenley High School in 1945. After graduating from high school, his intentions were to study art education at the University of Pittsburgh in the hope of becoming an art teacher, but his plans changed and he enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where he studied commercial art. During his time there, Warhol joined the campus Modern Dance Club and Beaux Arts Society. He also served as art director of the student art magazine, Cano, illustrating a cover in 1948 and a full-page interior illustration in 1949. These are believed to be his first two published artworks. Warhol earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pictorial design in 1949. Later that year, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine illustration and advertising.