Monday, March 28, 2022

Aspen Art Museum Andy Warhol: Lifetimes - COLORADO CONNECTION - Mark Sink

 Aspen Art Museum 

Andy Warhol: Lifetimes

Dec 3, 2021-Mar 27, 2022



Mark Sink's memories -


Days before Andy Warhol’s death in February 1987, his friend John Powers sent him a certificate from the Colorado Board of Stock Inspection certifying its approval of Warhol’s personally designed livestock brand: ‘A/W’, with a sideways ‘W’. It was a bittersweet final link in the chain connecting Warhol to Colorado, and specifically to Aspen: one that spanned 30 years, from his earliest days as an exhibiting artist through the height of his fame.

The first record of Warhol in Aspen is in December 1956. Still working in advertising, and just beginning to land gallery shows in Manhattan, he was enjoying early national exposure and would soon have a two-page spread in Life magazine. An exhibition of early blotted line drawings by his friend Patricia Moore was held at Aspen’s Four Seasons Club that winter before touring across the west. Exhibition notes uncovered by Warhol biographer Blake Gopnik — whose voluminous archival research also unearthed the artist’s cattle brand — indicate that the show, which was almost certainly Warhol’s first outside New York, did very badly indeed and that the tour sold almost nothing. One of the few works that did sell, however, went to Elizabeth Paepcke, wife of Aspen city father Walter Paepcke, founder of the Aspen Skiing Company and the Aspen Institute, and originator of the utopian ‘Aspen Idea.’

In 1964, Phyllis Johnson, then resident in Aspen, used the city’s name — ‘a symbol of the freewheeling life’, she believed—for the title of a new publication: Aspen, a pioneering magazine in-a-box. In 1966, it was none other than Warhol who designed Aspen’s third issue. Dubbed ‘the Fab issue’, the contents included a flip book of Warhol’s film Kiss (1963); coverage of an LSD conference in Berkeley, California; a report on local off-grid living; and a 12-card selection of pop and op art paintings from the collection of Carbondale-based collectors John and Kimiko Powers. Among these were works by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenberg and Warhol’s 200 Campbell Soup Cans (1962), alongside artist interviews and commentary by Powers himself.

Powers remained a champion of Warhol’s work in the decades that followed. His partner, Kimiko, was the subject of one of Warhol’s earliest and best-known society portraits, photo- graphed and first printed in June 1972. Works from their collection will be exhibited at the Powers Art Center in Carbondale this winter, concurrent with ‘Andy Warhol: Lifetimes’ at the Aspen Art Museum. Along with supporting his work, Powers also helped Warhol put together a local land purchase — 40 acres in Missouri Heights—acquired in 1972. (Jasper Johns owned plots adjoining Warhol’s, and Robert Rauschenberg had one too). Warhol told The Aspen Times, in September 1981, that he had come to Aspen ‘many times’ to see his land, but that he had no intention of building on it, as it was ‘too pretty.’

Warhol visited Aspen regularly in the first half of the 1980s, often to celebrate New Year’s Eve, each time diligently logging the names and his impressions of people he met in his diaries. The first trip of this period was in August 1981, when he visited the Powerses in Carbondale and went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, which was hosting a solo exhibition of his work. Warhol’s retinue included his boyfriend Jon Gould, artist Christopher Makos, Bob Colacello, editor of Warhol’s publication Interview — who found time to personally lobby Carl Bergman, of Carl’s Pharmacy in Aspen, to start carrying the magazine — and the group also called in on two of Aspen’s boldest-faced names of the moment: Jack Nicholson and John Denver. That winter, Warhol returned with Gould, Makos and Denver- based photographer Mark Sink to celebrate New Year’s Eve, staying in Castle Creek Valley at the home of ‘Baby’ Jane Holzer, a former Warhol superstar. During the trip, Warhol made his first attempt to ski. ‘It was easy,’ he wrote in his diary of the Powder Pandas lesson with instructor Gary Bonn, ‘all the two-year-olds skiing with me, and if you start when you’re two you can really go with the waves and relax and become a good skier, but I was so tense. I fell three times.’ Warhol’s Aspen visits became increasingly celebrity-heavy: even in 1981, he noted that visiting the era-defining disco, Andre’s, ‘was like trying to get into Studio 54.’ Indeed, Dean Sobel, professor of art history and museum studies at Denver University, observes in One Hour Ahead: The Avant-Garde in Aspen 1945– 2004 (2004) that Warhol’s visits were ‘strangely symbolic’ of how the town had changed since the mid-1960s, when earnest young pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg came to Aspen for Powers-sponsored artist residencies. In a recent interview, Sobel added that, by the 1980s, Warhol ‘was still the grandfather of pop art and a really famous person, but he was really more of a People magazine celebrity’.

Though this performative aspect to Warhol’s time in Aspen can’t be denied, Gopnik argues that the artist’s Colorado trips can’t be simply reduced to this. Art, he notes, was always at the core of these visits — whether it was time spent with collectors like the Powerses, or the numerous photographs and Polaroids Warhol took of the local landscape and architecture, skiers and après-ski. In Aspen, as ever with Warhol, art, celebrity, life and performance are inseparable. ‘There’s the cliché that Warhol was his own greatest work of art,’ Gopnik said when I interviewed him recently. ‘And that cliché dates back to almost the day he began making Pop art. But it’s more than just a cliché, it’s also a central element in the most important conceptual art of the 1960s on, that you can eliminate the barriers between art and life’.

Andrew Travers is Arts and Culture editor at The Aspen Times.

Photos Mark Sink, use with permission by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc.

Aspen Art Museum  637 East Hyman Avenue  Aspen, Colorado 81611

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Andy Warhol Diaries - Netflix - Ryan Murphy

Almost exactly 35 years since the famed pop artist died, Netflix has released The Andy Warhol Diaries, a new documentary that scratches beneath the surface of the artist’s enigmatic life and work. Ryan Murphy’s six-part series is steered by the best-selling book of the same name, compiled by editor Pat Hackett via a series of transcribed calls with the artist over more than a decade.

The New York Post - March 9, 2022

When Harriet Woodsom Gould died in 2016 in her nineties, she left behind a trove of family heirlooms dating back to the 1700s in her Amesbury, Mass., home. Yet in her attic, she had a secret veritable shrine to pop art.

There, she had stashed her late son Jon Gould’s belongings for decades since his death in 1986 from AIDS. He had vases painted by Jean-Michel Basquiat, works by Keith Haring and dozens and dozens of gifts — photos, valentines, sketches, letters and more — from pop god Andy Warhol.

“My mother kept everything,” Jon’s twin brother, Jay Gould, told The Post. Jay knew his brother “had some type of relationship” with Warhol in the 1980s, though Jon always remained discreet about it. “We were very close, identical twins, but we never talked a lot about his sexuality,” Jay, now 68, explained. “It was a different time.”

Yet, he was still stunned to read the poetry and love notes Jon wrote to the older artist. “I didn’t realize the relationship was as deep as it was.”

Andy Warhol Snowmobiling with Jon Gould on new year’s day, January 1, 1983 in Aspen, Colorado.  

Gould and Warhol on New Year’s Day in Aspen, Colorado, in 1983. Photo Mark Sink

Actually, no one really knew. Gould was Warhol’s last romance, a young Paramount executive with floppy hair and preppy good looks who died tragically at 33. And though Warhol frequently mentioned him in his famed diaries, published posthumously in 1989, the artist’s dashed-off musings gave the impression that Jon was more of a crush than a genuine partner. (Plus, few could get past the diaries’ droll, often mean, takes on the rich and famous. Poor Liz Taylor was described as looking “like a — belly button”!)

The new six-part Netflix series, “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” however, aims to change that. Premiering Wednesday, it digs beneath the diaries’ surface and into Warhol’s later romantic relationships and their impact on Warhol’s life and work. In doing so, it paints a more vulnerable portrait of the artist, who often presented himself as a cold, asexual weirdo.

“He was a man full of desire, full of humanity, and that comes through in his queer longing and in his search for spiritual meaning,” the series director Andrew Rossi told The Post. 

‘They were really in love’

The New York Post 

By Raquel Laneri and Nicki Gostin

March 9, 2022

Wednesday, March 23, 2022




Annina Nosei is upset. A new play by Ishmael Reed, a leading Black literary figure in America, makes out the dealer who gave Jean-Michel Basquiat his first show in New York as a rapacious profiteer. It also has a lot of dark things to say about Basquiat’s relationship with his sometime collaborator, Andy Warhol.
The Slave Who Loved Caviar—structured as a CSI episode and promoted as satire—investigates wonders if what "really" killed Basquiat wasn't just a drug overdose but “foul play” at the hands of the corrupting New York art world.
Nosei, ever alert to depictions of the role she played in Basquiat’s life, attended a performance last December during the play’s three-week run at Theater for the New City, an East Village Institution. She walked out at intermission.
“I don’t hear very well,” the octogenarian dealer told me. “And I couldn’t understand what the actors were saying, so I left.” Crystal Field, who founded the Off-off Broadway theater in 1970, happens to be Nosei’s neighbor and sent her the script. Conceding that she read only “the parts that mentioned my name,” Nosei refuted them, point by point.

However, I discovered while watching a live-streamed performance—not the best way to experience a stage play, but Covid paranoia kept me home—Reed’s drubbing doesn’t come up till Act Two. Characters describe Nosei as a “slavedriver” who in 1981 locked the young Basquiat in her SoHo gallery’s basement (a “dungeon” in the play), and either paid for drugs to make him work harder or turned a blind eye to his use of them, while forcing sales of purportedly unfinished paintings to invasive collectors whom she brought downstairs.

All of this has been said so many times before that it’s practically folklore. Such is the power of myth, particularly in the age of social media, but Nosei would like the record corrected once and for all.
First, that “basement.” Though located below the gallery, it was a 2000 sq.ft-studio that had a skylight at the back and windows on the sidewalk that allowed passersby to see in. In other words, no dungeon. “I was never locked anywhere,” Basquiat told Marc Miller in a videotaped 1982 interview. “Christ! If I had been white, they would just say artist-in-residence.”
According to Nosei, the only collectors who went down there were Lenore and Herbert Schorr, early champions and friends of the artist who came at his invitation.
It was disappointing to hear Warhol demonised in the play as a vampiric artist who exploited other talents, and conceptual art as “the longest running con game in art history”—coals that burned out long ago. Reed, the author of nine other plays, as well as 30 books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, consulted a number of published sources about both Warhol and Basquiat (he sent a bibliography). Perhaps owing to his characteristic, sometimes dazzling, mashup of historical and current newsmakers, including Richard Pryor, Jeffrey Epstein and Maurizio Cattelan, some of it came out equal parts fiction and fact.

For example, one character quotes Basquiat’s reference to his experience in Nosei’s basement as a “sick factory” that he hated. Only that’s what he said about a warehouse in Modena that the Italian dealer Emilio Mazzoli rented for his use. Also, it was Mazzoli, not Nosei, who paid him thousands of dollars in cash that he subsequently spent partly on drugs, limos, and caviar. “I am against drugs,” Nosei said. “I don’t even like medicine.”

If so, Reed asks, why didn’t she intervene? (As if anyone could.) Nosei says Basquiat’s drug use was the reason that she kicked him out of the basement and rented him a nearby loft where he could do as he pleased without interference from her. “After that,” she insisted, “I didn’t have anything to do with him.” In the published version of the play, and subsequent productions, Reed promises to add lines indicating that, “Ms. Nosei disputes claims made by others.”
Reed says that he wrote the play to counter a “false narrative” about Basquiat foisted on Black people by the white art establishment, and by the artistic licence that Julian Schnabel took in his 1996 biographical film, Basquiat. He threads the plot with quotes from such archly conservative critics as Robert Hughes, who famously hated Basquiat’s work and was among the several white critics to disparage the artist as a wild savage, an uneducated street urchin, a monkey, and a primitive who merely “scribbled.”
To give such bigoted takedowns a different perspective is a legitimate and welcome pursuit. As one character in the play puts it, “Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.” All the same, to bring additional falsehoods to bear on the story doesn’t clarify anything, especially when it involves two of the most highly valued contemporary artists in the world.
Like Basquiat, fame found Reed early, with the publication of his first novel, Mumbo Jumbo. “I’d come to New York in 1962 with all of my belongings in a laundry bag,” he told me. “By 1967 I was a star. I left New York [for Berkeley, CA]. If I had remained, I would have perished from an overdose of affection. Maybe,” he added, “an older Black man could have given [Basquiat] direction. Instead, he admired degenerates like William Burroughs and anti-Semites like Kerouac. My play succeeded in challenging the nasty, anti-Basquiat attitude promoted by whites, a lot of it racist, and points to influences on Basquiat that [white critics] could not identify.
For my money, Reed’s play succeeds best at dramatising the construction of truth as dependent on whoever controls the narrative, which is always up for grabs. _Linda Yablonsky_ArtNewspaper   3.22.22

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Andy Warhol Lifetimes show - Aspen Public Radio

Who was the real Andy Warhol? Aspen Art Museum explores the many answers Aspen Public Radio By Dominic Anthony Walsh

Published February 22, 2022


Screenshot (15).png
Andy Warhol
Courtesy Of Aspen Art Museum
Andy Warhol created many self-portraits throughout his career. This one is from 1986, the year before he died.

Andy Warhol — one of the most significant figures in modern art — had deep ties to Aspen. Before his death in 1987, he spent years cultivating a public persona as an idiosyncratic, superficial and unemotional person. An ongoing exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum casts light on a more private side of Warhol.

Andy Warhol: Lifetimes”, an exhibit at Aspen Art Museum running through March 27, is similar to recent Warhol shows in Toronto and London — but this one was curated by Monica Majoli.

“The whole concept of the exhibition that the Tate (in London) was putting together was to try to create some clarity about how Warhol’s biography influenced his work,” Majoli said. “That, of course, dealt with elements of his identity as the son of an immigrant, working class — poor, actually — and as a gay man, as a Catholic.”

An accomplished artist herself, often working on themes related to sexuality and intimacy, Majoli brings a refined touch to the project — and ensures that Warhol’s biography doesn’t completely subsume his work.

andy in drag (c)AWM_WEB.jpg
Courtesy Of Aspen Art Museum
Warhol poses in drag.

The main exhibit at Aspen Art Museum starts with unsuccessful erotic works from the 1950s that bombed in New York City, before quickly pivoting to multimedia work from later in his career — including a colorful camouflage acrylic painting from late in his life.

The camo painting captures one of the main themes of the exhibition: Warhol’s intentional masking of his true personality behind a series of flashy personas.

“I was thinking of it within this context as relating both to the idea of being closeted and … Warhol sort of creating this persona, but sort of hiding behind this kind of cloaking that he was doing,” Majoli said.

In that exhibit space, we ran into Mark Sink, who had a handful of photographs. The Denver-based photographer knew Warhol and even photographed him in Aspen in the ’80s.

“I pride myself with Andy smiling,” he said, holding up a photo of Warhol in winter gear, partially covered in snow. “He was so happy here.”

As documented by The Aspen Times, Warhol had a 30-year connection to Aspen, with his first recorded visit in December 1956.

Mark Sink, Andy Warhol in Aspen, January 1, 1983_2.jpg
Mark Sink

Andy Warhol visited Aspen for the 1983 New Year.

Sink’s photos capture a New Year’s visit in the early ‘80s.

“He was very happy here. Look, smiling, smiling, smiling,” he said, thumbing through photographs before arriving at a somber-looking Warhol next to a flipped over snowmobile. “Not smiling — after the snowmobile crash. I dragged my hand in the snow, and it went up in the goggles of his boyfriend John, and off (the snowmobile) went. … I'm the guy that almost killed Andy Warhol.”

The photos — which aren’t part of the main exhibit — capture that emotional side of Warhol that he often kept hidden.

Mark Sink, Andy Warhol and Jon Gould, January 1, 1983.jpg
Mark Sink
Andy Warhol sits behind Jon Gould, his boyfriend at the time in 1983.

Blake Gopnik is an art critic and author of the 2020 biography “Warhol.”

“He's obviously one of the great figures of the late 20th century — of all time, in fact — in art, and he's unusual, I think, because you have to know about the man to really understand the art, and you have to know about the art to understand the man,” Gopnik said. “And that's not always the case. But with Andy Warhol, I really think that the biography and the art are really closely connected.”

With Warhol, it’s hard to truly know “the man.”

“From a very young age, … he adopted a persona that you could say wasn't really him. It was a persona for the outside world,” Gopnik said. “The thing about Andy Warhol is: He didn't do it once. He didn't establish a persona and stick with it. Every five years, you could say there was a new Andy Warhol. And we've kind of got fixated on the Andy Warhol of the middle of the ’60s – where he's got the dark glasses and he's goofy, and he puts his fingers through his lips and says, ‘Gee, I don't know!’ But that's just one of the personas. And it certainly isn't the real Warhol, who was a super well-educated, incredibly intelligent man.”

Marilyn Diptych
Andy Warhol
Courtesy Of Aspen Art Museum
Warhol's "Marilyn Diptych" is one of his best known works.

On Saturday, Gopnik and Majoli presented “Warhol: Real Love,” a conversation and Q&A at the museum’s rooftop cafe.

It was, as one audience member put it, “Riveting.”

Gopnik is like a guest made for the WHYY program “Fresh Air,” gracefully and succinctly drawing out nuances and contractions in Warhol’s biography. And Majoli — with her sharp, conversational questions — could easily fill in for Terry Gross or Dave Davies.

One throughline of the talk: Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola.

“She really inspired him when he was a boy, in terms of his artistic proclivities,” Majoli said.

“Yeah, how many immigrant mothers say, ‘Now, son, you must be an artist when you grow up!’ Right? And that's more or less what she did,” Gopnik said.

Warhola, like her son, was an outsider — and marginalization would play a major role in their lives.

“He's not just an immigrant, but he's kind of the wrong kind of immigrant,” Gopkin said. “Everyone knows what an Italian is, what a Jew is, what an Irish person is. How many of you know what a Carpatho-Russian is? He did everything wrong his whole life, he wasn't even the right kind of immigrant. … And I think that touched him his whole life.”

“And his mother, she wasn't even the right kind of Carpatho-Russian. She pretended to be an old country babushka, but she was actually an incredibly complex, sophisticated cultural woman. … She was brilliant and eccentric, and she gave birth to a brilliant, eccentric son.”  And, he was gay.

In Warhol’s public life, his sexuality was something like an open secret — the artist only occasionally nodding at or playfully acknowledging in a roundabout way that he was gay.

But in his work — both public and private — his sexuality plays a more prominent role.

In the first room of the exhibition, opposite from the camouflage paintings, Warhol’s 1964 film, “Sleep,” continuously plays. It shows his lover, poet John Giorno, sleeping.

The movie comes from short reels of film, meticulously compiled and looped to create a truly tender 5½-hour view of Giorno.

Behind it, Majoli placed a room — curtained off — containing nude photos and sketches of men — some in sexual situations — that Warhol would use as references for other work. Most of the material in the room was private throughout his life.

“I thought this room was actually quite important in terms of understanding Warhol as a gay man and his own relationship to his sexuality, and the work that he made in relationship to sexuality and desire, I guess you might say,” Majoli said.

Sink said he thinks Warhol would have been happy to see the private photos made public.

“I think Andy would be very excited, you know, in raising the flag,” he said. “He always asked questions about sex. He was very interested in sex, and he loved the eroticism. And that just wasn't accepted in — especially queer — you know, to be gay. So, as that has come into a more acceptable genre now, I would like to think he would be excited.”

“Andy Warhol: Lifetimes” runs at Aspen Art Museum through March 27.

Monday, December 20, 2021

TROUBLE VOL 1 No. 3 DEC 2021 - Denver Street Talk

I was asked by artist publisher Matthew Rose to send a selection and essay on Denver's street art. My focus was on work near and dear in my orbit and eye-catching work with a strong message and fine craft. I sent several hundred images that they had to painfully trim down to a dozen or so. The editors were overwhelmed by the quality of the work sent, Cheers to the artists and the institutions that support us. This assignment inspired me to work on a larger and more far-reaching survey and documentation of our current state of street art. This small personal overview is just a tiny sample of Denver's multileveled street art community. I have hundreds of more artists to share.

For now ......
TROUBLE VOL 1 No. 3 DEC 2021

Fabric head - Tiana Graves @tea_ah_nuh at the @thetempledenver - @the_big_picture_colo

 Mendala bomb -  @Johnathan.Saltz and @plusdashplush at Crema Cafe @crema_dnvr -  @rinoartdistrict

Disability Rights -  Valerie Rose @hellovalerieros and blind artist Duplessis Art - @rinoartdistrict

Snake head-  Casey Kawaguchi  @caseykawaguchi  @rinoartdistrict

HOPE - Koko Bayers @kokonofilter - @rinoartdistrict

Red Handshake - @theunpersonproject -  @susana_moyaho & @andreatejedak - @the_big_picture_colo

Spray painting - Thomas Evans - @detour303 - @rinoartdistrict

Crowd laying down protesting Denver - Jenna Rice - I Cant Breath - @redricephoto - @the_big_picture_colo


White cutout figures - @theunpersonproject -  @susana_moyaho & @andreatejedak


Profile with notes - Sandra Klein - Inner Memories - @sandra_klein_photography - @the_big_picture_colo

Power and Equality - Shepard Fairey @obeygiant - @rinoartdistrict

LHOOQANON - Atomic Elroy @atomicelroy - @the_big_picture_colo

Gold Halo -Thomas Evans - @detour303 - @rinoartdistrict

Group wheat paste wall -  Marna Clarke Photography @marnaclarke Anissa Malady @lbryvxn @scrawledinthemargins - Ron Cooper- Kristen Hatgi kristenhatgisinkphoto - @the_big_picture_colo

Alley captures untitled various artists .. center photo image of back East Side Juan Fuentes @thewritejuan   @rinoartdistrict - @the_big_picture_colo

Last image: Alley captures of untitled various artists - @rinoartdistrict

TROUBLE VOL 1 No. 3 DEC 2021... The Merry Xmas Climate Change Disaster Issue with Obits & Cartoons! Free! 

 Enjoy! Be safe! Be kind to each other! Please share. 

trouble is a magazine
it appears three to four times a year
it's mostly about trouble

Thank you, Matthew Rose 


More information on the artists and Denver's resources for street art support submission opportunities:


Denver: Street Talk

Denver is the no coast art city. Land-locked, a mile high, surrounded by mountains and inhabited by hippies, artists, hedge fund traders and snowboarders (among others), Denver might have more street art plastered and painted on its buildings and alleyways than other city in America (aside from New York, perhaps). I am sharing but a tiny sample.

Throughout the last fifty years, Denver’s vibrant visual culture has been born and reborn out of a hands-on free expression wild west independence. In this spirit, a true DIY underground culture emerged braced by dozens of art centers, galleries and museums across the city (and the state). Young people found a voice in art and music and performance fully

supported by the city. Rhinoceropolis was such an incubation venue that inspired countless young creatives more than any art or scholastic institution in the region.

Sadly Rhinoceropolis recently shuddered, a victim of gentrification. An age old story: Artists arrive first, followed  by real estate developers; mass exodus of artists who can no longer afford to live in their chosen neighborhoods. Rhinceropolis foreshadowed and inspired the art district named RINO (River North) where hundreds of street artists and the creative class now flourish; but many artists are now are in the retreat.

Currently, though, a wide range of street art is healthy in Denver, thanks to generous support by RINO Art District, RedLine Community Center, The Temple Artist Haven and The Big Picture wheat paste street art project.

In early December I took a long walk around the RINO Art District to explore and catch up on its current street art.  In one alley I smelled fresh spray paint in the air and I came upon one of our most celebrated street artists “Detour.” This spray can genius was just starting a new portrait and a crowd had formed to watch him unwind his magic.

Like most modern western cities, Denver is experiencing growing pains in all aspects of its economic and social and cultural bones. In that process, cultural incubation centers are typically the first to be pushed out. But some developers have begun to understand the importance of art and culture on the city walls – and even figured out how to profit by using artists and their talent in creating value in revitalizing neighborhoods, adding a hip and fresh take on buildings and generating a new atmosphere in developments, that ironically, artists could never afford.

Marrying a developer's interests and income with an artist’s nature for tattooing social consciousness on the city’s skin, has made for an uncomfortable but compelling visual – and reality. Street art in Denver is living that fine line.

The future for all this marvelous visual poetry remains a question mark. Will developers change their minds and whitewash it all? Will the city suddenly turn on its artists and pass an ordinance outlawing such artwork? We hope not. I passionately believe we do need to nurture culture and let DIY spaces incubate emerging talent. 

– Mark Sink, Denver, Colorado. December 2021


Friday, December 3, 2021

Aspen Times - In Aspen with Andy Warhol

 Aspen Times December 3rd, 2021

In Aspen with Andy Warhol

Denver photographer Mark Sink discusses his local adventures with Andy Warhol

Andrew Travers

Photographer Mark Sink calls this portrait “Andy Warhol, Mountain Man.” Shot during a visit to celebrate New Year’s 1982-83. (Mark Sink)

Pop artist Andy Warhol’s many visits to Aspen will get a lot of attention this winter, as the Aspen Art Museum hosts the massive, museum-wide survey “Andy Warhol: Lifetimes” (opening Friday, Dec. 3).

“Andy Warhol: Lifetimes”

Aspen Art Museum

Opening Friday, Dec. 3 (through March 27, 2022)

Warhol was here as early as 1956, at the outset of his exhibiting career, when he hung what is believed to be his first show outside of New York City at the Four Seasons in Aspen. He kept coming back through the 1980s, including a run of New Year’s Eve visits from 1981 to 1984 — snowbound and celebrity-studded adventures, which he documented meticulously in his diaries.

Denver-based photographer Mark Sink was a frequent companion to Warhol on his Aspen visits and worked with Warhol in New York and at Interview magazine for about seven years after a charmed meeting during Warhol’s summer 1981 Colorado visit.

In anticipation of Aspen’s winter of Warhol, I recently drove to Denver to meet Sink and talk about his Warhol days in Aspen and beyond. Seated in a nook of the home he bought shortly after Warhol’s 1987 death when Sink return to Colorado, with an afternoon breeze blowing in, he browsed a photo album of images from the Warhol years.

Sink, now 62, may be one of the great conversationalists in the Rockies, sharing stories and asides, occasional barbs and frequent creative insights. He’s enjoying looking back these days, sorting through his own journals and photos for an ongoing book project about his years at the red hot center of contemporary art and Warhol’s scene.

“I’m in legacy mode,” he said. “I’d just like the proof that I was there.”

Sink had unique insight into the mix of glam and genius that was Warhol’s ‘80s milieu, photographing Warhol at work, assisting him on projects and accompanying him on some legendary nights (he had his camera along for a dinner with Warhol, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at the Odeon in Manhattan during its 80s heyday).

It all started four decades ago on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Sink, 22, was putting himself through school at Metro State University in Denver, developing a photography practice and racing bikes while soaking up what he could of the art scene from Denver (including going to see Warhol movies at the indie cinemas on Broadway, he recalled). When a friend told him Andy Warhol was coming to talk at Colorado State in late summer 1981, Sink knew he had to be there.

Warhol had come to Carbondale and Aspen to visit collectors and friends John and Kimiko Powers before heading to the school for a talk and the opening of a solo exhibition there. (Warhol also visited The Aspen Times newsroom on that visit, a story for another day.)

Emboldened by his youth, Sink poked around campus hoping to find Warhol and, by chance, he did: the iconic visage, in sunglasses and wig, seated all alone in a classroom signing posters of his famed society portrait of Kimiko Powers, his handlers having run out to get coffee or food.

Warhol after digging out from the New Year’s Day 1983 snowmobile crash. “He was so happy to be there,” photographer Mark Sink recalled. (Mark Sink)

Sink simply sat down and started helping Warhol sign them and they got to talking about Sink’s photography and life in Colorado. A sleekly built and muscular mountain kid, Sink tantalizingly pulled down his shorts to show off a gnarly road rash from a bike crash that ran down the length of his right side-body and hip. Warhol was intrigued.

“He said, ‘Oh, you do photography? Interview is my greatest magazine,’” Sink recalled. “I said, ‘I wish it was more in color’ and he said, ‘Oh! You should work for Interview!’ I was on the masthead the next month.”

Warhol would soon invite Sink to New York to work in The Factory and shoot for Interview.

Sink also served as a sort of mountain ambassador for Warhol, joining on multiple trips to Aspen. The trips included skiing Panda Peak — where Warhol spotted baseball star Reggie Jackson — and shopping and party-hopping.

Sink was among the Warhol Aspen entourage who rang in 1983 at Jimmy Buffett’s “all country-western” New Year’s Eve party that included Jack Nicholson with Anjelica Huston, Barry Diller and Diana Ross.

But Sink’s memories include more modest evenings, like TV dinners and heated glazed donuts at Baby Jane Holzer’s place on Castle Creek Road or going out for Mexican at La Cocina.

On New Year’s Day 1983, the group went snowmobiling in the Maroon Creek Valley, with Warhol and boyfriend Jon Gould at one point crashing off a cliff (there were no major injuries).

Jon Gould and Andy Warhol on their snowmobile outing from T-Lazy-7 Ranch up the Maroon Creek Valley on Jan. 1, 1983. (Mark Sink)

“I thought Jon was trying to kill me,” Warhol wrote in his diary.

The incident is memorably documented in Sink’s photos of a giddily smiling Warhol digging out from the crash. (Sink is proud that so many of his photos show Warhol smiling and “unguarded.”)

“I had zoomed past Andy and Jon dragging my hand in the snow,” Sink wrote of the snowmobile incident. “This caused snow to cover Jon’s goggles; he lost control crashing off a cliff with Andy falling off the back.”

Warhol was often baffled by the mountain lifestyle Sink embodied. During one Aspen trip, Sink and a friend did an overnight ski mountaineering trip to East Maroon Pass. When they returned from the winter camping trip, Warhol insisted they were playing a joke on him.

“Andy just wouldn’t believe it,” Sink recalled. “He insisted, ‘You weren’t sleeping out there. It’s like zero degrees out there.’”

Warhol attempting to get back to the trail after a New Year’s Day snowmobile crash with boyfriend Jon Gould. (Mark Sink)

Some of the decadence of the Aspen trips rung empty, though: “Andy was kind of bored. I saw him as, like, a bored wealthy housewife looking for glamorous things to do.”

Young and brash and interested in his own path as an artist, Sink resisted the pull to give over his whole life to Warhol even after he went to New York.

“I didn’t want to be one of the hanger-on Factory kids,” Sink said.

He kept his independent photography practice and found success in photographing artwork and artists of the day (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Rene Ricard were among his subjects). He shot for Interview and Circus magazine and took on projects under Warhol. He wonders now how much more he might have learned had he gone full-bore at the Factory.

“If I could do it all again, I think I’d just go be a Factory kid,” he said. “I’d park there like, ‘Whatever you need, I’m here.’”

The more time he spent in Warhol’s orbit, the more depth he found in the man and artist.

“After a while I started to see the genius in Andy,” he said. “His brilliance in his art knowledge, in art history, the genius in the Factory and mass production and our new culture — so far ahead of our era of reality TV shows with Andy Warhol TV. Eventually it came over me, like, ‘Holy shit, this guy is really so far ahead of the curve on everything.’”

Settling back in Denver in the grim aftermath of Warhol’s death, Sink would become one of Denver’s most prominent portrait photographers and arts leaders. He co-founded the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in 1996, helped spearhead the RedLine Contemporary Art Center in 2008 and is now growing into an elder statesman of a booming Denver art scene.

If Warhol hadn’t gotten behind him, he’s unsure how his life might have gone.

“I learned from Andy to believe in myself,” Sink said. “He championed me. I was just this Denver, Metro State kid. To have those doors opened up was so important, it showed me it was a big world out there.”