New Sordoni Art Gallery to open facility with Warhol exhibit

Toni Pennello, Editor in Chief

At a meeting about what the opening exhibit at the new Sordoni Art Gallery should be, director of the gallery Heather Sincavage said the answer should have been obvious.

“We all agreed that we wanted it to be a Pennsylvania based artist,” she explained. “The President (Dr. Patrick Leahy) said a few times, ‘you know, som

eone like Warhol.’”

So they bounced ideas around, threw out some Pennsylvania artists’ names, and couldn’t seem to decide.

“We were finally saying, OK, who has the cachet of Warhol? Duh, Warhol does,” Sincavage said laughing.

A collection of the famous Pittsburgh born pop artist’s work will be shown in the gallery to usher in its opening at its new location, alongside the Karambelas Media and Communication Center on South Main Street.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 6, and the exhibit’s opening reception will be at 7 p.m. on the

same day. The exhibit will run through Dec. 20.

Sincavage said that it was not as difficult to acquire the pieces as one might think – and that she already had the opportunity at the institution she worked at prior to Wilkes, thanks to the Andy Warhol Foundation.

According to their website, the foundation’s mission is “the advancement of the visual arts.” To do this, they take the vast and diverse work Warhol left behind after his sudden death in 1987 and make them available to institutions that may not otherwise have the means to acquire Warhol pieces.

One of those institutions was the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Sincavage’s previous place of employment. There, she said she was overseeing about 160 of Warhol’s polaroids and a number of prints. She said she has curated two Warhol exhibits in the past, but this one is – “by far” – the most extensive.

“The goal of this whole program, the goal that the foundation had set out, was to make Warhol accessible,” Sincavage explained. “It’s funny though, as you kind of get into it, that also means there is an endless amount of stuff to choose from.”

To curate the exhibit, Sincavage first had to choose a theme.

“Warhol did so much work,” she explained, “it was really about how I was going to approach Warhol to begin with. Was I going to hone in on a theme of his, or was I trying to go more like his catalogue raisonne?”

It ended up being a mix of the two, she said.

“Because he is the pop artist, because he is sort of of reflecting on pop, and reflecting on culture, I decided to approach it in a way that when he was looking at this, he was able to create this, and when he created this, pop culture then ate it up and started throwing it back out,” she said.

She used the example of the 10 piece Marilyn Monroe set that the gallery will show. Aside from the 10 screen print portraits, Sincavage included the publicity photo of Monroe that Warhol worked from, and several portraits done by other artists at the same time that were “a little more interpretive.”

Sincavage also has many rare polaroid photos taken by Warhol, which he used for commissioned portraits.

Sincavage said that the response to the opening exhibit has been one of excitement, even though many of the details are still not public.

“The fact that we’ve been able to say that we’re opening the Sordoni with Warhol is a bit of a buzz,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement around this. I think the community is … really looking forward to it. I really think it’s going to be the place to be.”

The new facility at the Sordoni matches the prestige of the artist opening the exhibit, she added.

“The facility is just stunning,” she said, telling a story that a photographer described it as “a mini MOMA.”

“It’s really nuts. It really does have a presence about it that makes you feel like you’re in a big city gallery,” she said.

“I really can’t believe that this is my job. I can’t believe I’m working in this facility.”

For more information about the gallery and its opening exhibit, visit