On The Spot
A selection of Andy Warhol’s iconic artwork is set to be displayed at a gallery in Jamestown, and so is a human representation of his persona.
The Weeks Gallery at Jamestown Community College will celebrate the opening of “Andy Warhol: Acquisitions and Jamestown Nexus” at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 525 Falconer St. in Jamestown.
The event, which begins at 6 p.m. with a viewing of Warhol’s work, will also feature: a brief ceremony to honor Lois Strickler and Dr. Robert A Hagstrom at 6:30 p.m.; a slide lecture by Johnathan Katz, JCC associate professor and director of the visual studies Ph.D. program at the University of Buffalo at 7 p.m.; and a reception in the Scharmann lobby and Weeks reception hall that includes wine and beer tasting, hors d’oeuvres and a performance by gypsy jazz band Babik.
The event will also include an appearance by Michael Centi, of Jamestown, who will present a character impersonation of Warhol. A 2000 graduate of Frewsburg High School, Centi has been involved with theater work in Jamestown at venues such as JCC and the Lucille Ball Little Theatre for many years. He has also done some independent film work including his creation of the horror film “The Murderous Rampage of Malachi Stitch,” in which Centi acted as 13 of the 20 characters.
According to Centi, the opportunity to act as Warhol came from Bob Schlick, theater director for JCC.
“He actually approached me about it, which was kind of surprising because Bob has worked with so many students and people from the community that I was surprised that he thought of me out of everybody,” said Centi. “But, I was very excited and stepped right up to it because Andy Warhol is a famous artist, and the college is going to be showing some of his artwork for the first time. And, this is my first time impersonating somebody famous, so it’s a little nerve-wracking, but it’s also an honor at the same time.”
Centi’s approach to taking on the iconic artist has been a process or researching and reading about Warhol, as well as absorbing as much of his artwork as possible. The appearance will include mostly improv and method acting. Centi hopes to become the Warhol character by portraying a realistic version of the artist as he appeared in his 30s.
“I’m used to work that I’ve done being scripted and planned out, but I’m going to go into this and totally be Andy Warhol – leaving myself at the door so to speak,” said Centi. “I’m going to be going for the age that I am, that he was at that point, which is 31. So, the somewhat younger Andy Warhol when he was first starting out in his career.”
The improv aspect of Centi’s appearance will shine through when he answers questions provided by guests. The answers will not be scripted, and Centi will have to come up with on-the-spot accurate representations of the real Warhol.
“People can ask me questions about the artwork or anything else off the top of their heads,” said Centi. “So, I’m going to have to try to answer them, and hopefully I do well with that. If all else fails I could do something like Andy would do, by doing something off-the-cuff and out there as part of the persona.”
Although “Andy Warhol: Acquisitions and Jamestown Nexus” will be on display through March 21, area residents will only have one opportunity to catch Centi’s appearance at the opening ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity to see Andy’s artwork, and I think it will be an overall great experience for the community,” said Centi. “And, for me it’s an honor to take on the character because he is one of the most famous modern artists.”
Pre-sale tickets to the opening ceremony start at $12 and are available online at campusstore.sunyjcc.edu or at the JCC box office. JCC’s Weeks Gallery is located at 525 Falconer St. in Jamestown. For more information visit weeksgallery.sunyjcc.edu/Warhol-Arthappening.