‘Souper’ show now open at Johnson Center

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For those who dabble in the art world, the name Andy Warhol is synonymous with Campbell’s soup. Those who don’t might be a little surprised when they step into the Johnson Center for the Arts for the first time.

They will come face to face with a towering, flowering display of Campbell’s tomato soup. A quick glance around the main gallery and their eyes will settle on a couple of Pop Art silk screens of cans of Campbell’s soup and they might ask, “What’s with the tomato soup?”

Peggy Faulk and Mary Gibson can answer that question without blinking an eye. As volunteers at the Johnson Center for the Arts, Faulk and Gibson are known for their artistic talents when it comes to floral arrangements. They are also known not to say no when asked to lend a helping hand. So, they agreed to come up with an idea of something ‘Warholish’ as a centerpiece for the Andy Warhol exhibition which will run through Nov. 15 at the Johnson Center for the Arts.

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“Andy Warhol is the most renowned American Pop artist,” Faulk said. “He thought that art should be for everyone, not just a few. So, like other Pop artists, he used images that were popular with most people –images such as comic strips, photographs of movie stars and soup cans – Campbell’s Soup cans.”

Faulk said Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans exhibit included 32 “canvas” cans of Campbell’s soup.

“That was the number of soup varieties Campbell’s sold at that time,” she said.

The canvases were hung from the wall and resembled a soup display at a grocery store.

“When Peggy and I were trying to decide what to do as far as a centerpiece for the gallery, we chose the soup cans because Andy Warhol is identified with Campbell’s soup.”

When Faulk and Gibson went shopping for Campbell’s soup, they realized that Andy Warhol’s soup cans were the cans of the past.

“Most of the soup cans now have pictures of the soup on them,” Gibson said. “The tomato soup can was the closest to the image of the soup cans that Warhol painted. So, we decided to use all tomato soup cans although Warhol’s artwork included 32 varieties.”

Faulk had a candelabra that the floral artists thought would lend itself well to the arrangement and it did, but they thought it needed a base.

“We decided to use tomato soup cans as a base,” Gibson said. “We emptied the cans for the top of the centerpiece to eliminate the weight. We froze the soup and will use it later. The cans on the bottom are full.

“The flowers were chosen based on the colors that Warhol uses in his artwork. Hopefully, those who visit the Johnson Center for the Arts will appreciate the connection between the centerpiece and the Warhol silk screens on display.”

The Andy Warhol exhibition will run through Nov. 15 and will be the featured exhibition for the grand opening of the Center on Sept. 14.

The artwork of Pam Allen, Jim Campbell, Sarah Dismukes and Sally Fenn is also featured during the grand opening exhibition at the Johnson Center for the Arts along with the Brantley Family and Corley Chapman Jr. exhibits.

Admission to the Johnson Center for the Arts is free. Center hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 until 5 p.m. on Sunday.