For an immersion in art, performance, some serious partying and an eye-popping subculture that will explode your notion of fashion, check out the Naughty-or-Nice Holiday Bash from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at The Andy Warhol Museum. The night’s hostess is Sharon Needles, whose mix of sauce, flash and creative costuming won the Pittsburgh resident this year’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” crown.
When she spoke in Pittsburgh City Council chambers on June 13, Sharon Needles Day in Pittsburgh, Ms. Needles, aka Aaron Coady, said: “Beneath the 30 pounds of makeup and corsets and gowns are real beating hearts of real people and they usually come from a place of pain. A win for Sharon Needles is a win for every single kid in this city who’s still being bullied.”
That mix of overt stage persona and reserved interiority is part of what fascinates in the subjects of New York artist Jeremy Kost’s photographic works, and the opening of his Warhol exhibition “Friends With Benefits” will also be celebrated Saturday. The artist will be present.
Mr. Kost’s imagery includes Pittsburgh drag queens, Ms. Needles among them, and Warhol’s grave, but you may have to study the pieces a moment to find specifics. His use of the Polaroid camera has inspired comparisons to Warhol, but the outcome is vastly different. Where Warhol employed celebrity as sheen, Mr. Kost deconstructs the flash of his subjects, hinting at the sheltered interior Ms. Needles referenced.
The works are, thus, a morph of realities, the presumed instantaneous product denied by the artist’s studied technique.
Intimate multi-exposure Polariods, only 3.6 by 2.9 inches, are moody, only partially revealing. In “Untitled (Alaska at Allegheny Cemetery)” the human is spectral next to the weathered stone sculpture. Warhol’s tomb hovers behind a foreground of abstracted flowers and “Untitled (Heidi at Andy’s Grave).”
In contrast, the large collages of multiple Polaroids almost shout, their staccato rhythm formed by overlapping surfaces and broken images.
Created specifically for this Pittsburgh exhibition, “Friends With Benefits (Communing With Andy)” comprises hundreds of Polaroid photographs of various local drag queens at Warhol and Warhola family graves. Mr. Kost spent two days shooting in Pittsburgh and a much longer period composing the work at his New York studio. It measures approximately 60 by 55 inches.
The exhibition follows on the heels of a collaboration between The Warhol and Hugo Boss on a solo New York exhibition of Mr. Kost’s works.
The artworks, coupled with the weekend’s events (see below), offer opportunity to see the world through a different pair of eyeglasses. It’s what the humanities do best, substituting experiential discoveries for speculative fears, finding strange commonality in difference.
Bash tickets are $99 and include hors d’oeuvres and two drink tickets. “Friends” continues through Jan. 27. Admission is $20; seniors, students and children, $10; 5-10 p.m. Friday, half-price; members free. Information: 412-237-8300 or www.warhol.org.