I was in a bit of a funk earlier today – not really down, just a little out of sorts. The phone rang and I saw that it was my friend Kerry Kennedy, proprietor of K.S. Kennedy Distinctive Floral, and he had a very unusual request – would I come along to help him deliver a grave blanket to the cemetery where Andy Warhol was buried?
That’s not your typical ride along opportunity, so of course I said yes. Warhol’s grave is considered a local landmark, one of those places local people don’t tend to visit. I had heard all of the stories about soup cans and video feeds so I was eager. I’ve previously documented his “rock star” delivery for The Rolling Stones.
A grave blanket is typically an evergreen arrangements affixed to a wire base that literally covers the grave itself. They are symbols of warmth and an indicator that the deceased has not been forgotten. Incorporating unique season items into the design is also popular.
In this case, renowned music photographer Shannon Holliday had requested Kerry create a unique tribute to Warhol and deliver in time for Christmas. She wanted to incorporate a silver theme. So Kerry created a lovely blanket with silver trim, a disco ball and even pink poodle.
The grave is not exactly tucked away, but part of a small cemetery in the South Hills (some say Bethel Park, some say Castle Shannon, some say Baldwin) near the grave of his parents. When we arrived it was festooned with holiday decorations, including a modern pink tinsel tree.
Kerry staked the blanket to the grave and placed a piece of greenery on the headstone of Warhol’s parents as a gesture of respect.
And then we were finished …
Andy’s grave is both a memorial and a living piece of art. Artist Madelyn Roehrig collects notes from visitors to Andy. EarthCam has a 24/7 video feed of the grave. You can see the grave blanket for yourself now.
Take note of other items left at the grave
I’m one of those folks who appreciates Warhol as a cultural phenom more so perhaps than as an artist. I’ve been through the Pittsburgh based museum several times, but not ‘often’ and more so because I like the various special events. But there was something incredibly charming and endearing about this space.
I was curious about grave blankets so I found some background. It struck me that blankets are about personal relationships so it makes sense to me that Shannon Holliday would want to use that symbolism to pay her respects to Andy AND with the symbolic nod to the Northern and Eastern European roots of the custom.
Also, the importance of art in this moment caught up with me. Shannon’s photography and her passion for music and performing art, Kerry’s artistry (and craftsmanship) with flowers and the artistic gifts at the site,the note card art and the live stream. It was a pretty opportune moment to consider how blogging about the larger experience could tie these threads together.
And then I thought about my own earlier funk. Spending time on an adventure, thinking about the meaning Andy Warhol has for me and others around me and taking some time in a reverential space were beneficial for me. I love cemeteries so there’s nothing macabre about being there. It simply is another space where art and death collide.
To get there:
St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery can be found at 1066 Connor Road 15102, right off 88.