Jamie in Andyland

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Andy Warhol is mythic like the dinosaurs. Of course our culture turns dinosaurs into cute, cuddly things (see Barney). But nobody, until now, has produced a cuddly Andy.

It would take a relative. Someone like James Warhola, Andy’s nephew, who as a child saw the artist on frequent family visits and now, in a new children’s book, “Uncle Andy’s” tells the story of one of those visits through his eyes as an 8-year-old. [read more in Pulp.]

I talked to Warhola, 48, son of Paul Warhola (Andy’s older brother) last week. He’s on the book circuit for his recently published book and he’ll be in Philadelphia Sunday, Aug. 24, 1 pm-4 pm, at Da Vinci Art Alliance for a one-day exhibit and book signing.

“Uncle Andy’s” has great, detail-heavy illustrations and interesting tidbits about the artist. For example, the story takes place in August, 1962. It’s pre-Factory, but Andy’s already delegating. He puts the whole family of visitors (mom, dad and 6 kids) to work helping him with his projects. Jamie and his brother stretch canvas; Paul does some carpentry and grandma, (or, Bubba, who lived with Andy for many years in a ground-floor apartment in the townhouse) does calligraphy for Andy’s fashion illustrations.

Warhola pays homage to Bubba’s calligraphy in the cursive type he made for the book’s cover. [see image above] “Grandma did lots of calligraphy. My uncle used her through the 70s…She wasn’t perfect. She’d make spelling mistakes and things wouldn’t be on a line…but [the result] was really pretty.” The artist is a little disappointed with his attempt to emulate her folksy style. “I did a very clean version. It’s not even close to it,” he said. [see Bubba’s calligraphy at the bottom of Andy’s “Gee, Merrie Shoes,” 1956-57]

Warhola, who’s been a book and magazine illustrator since 1980, [His cover art was on many “Choose your own adventure” books like the one here.] is a long-time friend of Da Vinci curator, Deb Miller, who organized the Aug. 24 event. The event will be informal with no scheduled book talk. Miller told me that there will be books for sale at Da Vinci ($16.99 plus tax). Warhola’s original watercolor paintings for “Uncle Andy” will be on exhibit though not for sale (the artist is saving them for the family). But other original paintings by Warhola from earlier books, will be on exhibit — and available for purchase. A final note from Miller: Da Vinci is not equipped to take credit cards, so it’s cash or check only. Da Vinci Art Alliance, 704 Catharine St. 215-574-1418.

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