- “Andy liked to think of things as being mechanical,” Enns explains, “and in terms of the print-making process today, it’s very done by hand, it’s a very old-fashioned sort of thing.”
IF YOU’RE NOT familiar with Andy Warhol's Factory studio, imagine a silvery room covered in tinfoil, musicians and artists and drag queens all doing speed on a red couch, and an almost manic method of producing artwork going on in the background.
That's the Factory, a (literally) shining icon of 1960s New York artistic splendor that spurred some of Warhol's greatest accomplishments.
It's that splendor that Art Rise Savannah is recreating at Non-Fiction Gallery on October 16.
The Warhol Factory Party is Art Rise's first annual fall fundraiser and follows a screenprinting workshop hosted by Michael Enns, a former artist at the Factory.
Come Friday night, Non-Fiction will be covered in tin foil just like the Factory, Twisty Cats (aka Peter and Blake Mavrogeorgis of Dollhouse) will perform as the Velvet Underground, and House of Gunt will perform a drag show.
Most enticing, the winner of a raffle at the gala will get the opportunity to have a photograph of any subject they choose be recreated Warhol-style by Enns himself.
Enns would love to tell you about his time at the Factory, but ask him about his work making screenprints, not about how well he knew Andy or if he ever ran into Lou Reed.
"People want some attachment to the artist and what the artist was like," Enns says. "A lot has been written about the Factory, but not so much about the making of the art, so this is to enlighten people about the process."
Enns started doing the workshops with a fellow Factory friend last year. He starting working there as a screenprinter at the studio in 1977, first part-time while he attended Parsons and then full-time in 1981.
A native Floridian, Enns hung out with A.E. "Beanie" Backus, an acclaimed landscape painter in Florida, who had a part in forging Enns' connection with Warhol.
"A friend of mine and I used to hang out at [Backus'] studio when we were young," Enns recalls. "He was five foot tall, had this grandiose chutzpah that you would not believe. He entrenched himself with Andy inexplicably and started everything."
The Factory's name was coined because of Warhol's preferred method of creating art: mass production in an assembly-line setup. Silkscreen printing helped him achieve that goal.
"Andy liked to think of things as being mechanical," Enns explains, "and in terms of the print-making process today, it's very done by hand, it's a very old-fashioned sort of thing. It's a bit time-consuming, and Andy liked thing done quickly. He demanded some sort of speed making the art, but it couldn't always be that way."
The prints originated from a Polaroid photograph where the subject wore makeup that verged on clownish, just to create the contrast needed for the print.
"There had to be this high contrast because we didn't have Photoshop, so it was all done with makeup," Enns says.
Fortunately, the workshop will go cover all the intricacies of silkscreen printing as done at the Factory, because Enns notes it's easier said than done.
"Reading about it is pretty boring," he says. "You start out with the photograph, then you make a negative, then you make a positive, then a halftone screen—it goes on and on. It's a lot of negative/positive googly-gosh. It gets a little confusing for people, but we do a little step-by-step sort of thing, try to make the magic happen in front of people."
Art Rise is all about making art magical, so a Factory-themed party is a perfect fit for the funky nonprofit.
"We were looking to be very wacky, so of course the idea of the Factory rose to the top," says Clinton Edminster, executive director of Art Rise.
"We're not looking for a gala that's very snooty—we wanted a weird, funky, good time."
Art Rise's mission is twofold: providing financial stability for artists living in the community and making arts accessible for everyone in the community. The gala will raise funds to support Art Rise's programs, like the Art March and the Savannah Art Informer, and in turn further their two-fold mission.
"I've been impressed with the progress with all programs and their impact on the city," Edminster reflects.
"We have to consistently keep up with our growth—growth is challenging, and we're at a point where we need to grow at the correct pace and grow in partnership with the city. The city has grown in so many different ways, so we have to keep up."