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Andy Warhol _ a good guy?
Warhol butterfly

He comes across often as having been hedonistic if not depraved, not to disocunt his brillance and very on observation about everyone's fifteen minutes of fame, so it might come as a surprise that Warhol might be a good guy.

Or, at least, someone capable of good deeds.

This is a fine time for the late great artist across the United States. The recession has reduced a bit the price of his art at auction, but still, his work is much sought, by collectors and museums.

And this weekend an important Warhol exhibition comes to a close in Columbus, Ohio while another opens in San Francisco.

The exhibit ``Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms'' comes to an end Sunday at the Peter Eisienman-designed Wexner Center for the Arts (www.wexarts.org) on the Ohio State University campus.

But first there will be a ``Farewell Party'' Saturday, Valentine's Day, to ``help us kiss this spectacular show goodbye.''

Also this Saturday, the M.H. de Young Museum (www.famsf.org) in San Francisco opens ``Warhol Live!'', which will run through mid May.

Anyone within shouting distance of Columbus who hasn't seen that show, should. From books to drawings, screen prints and paintings and videos, it will become clear that Warhol was more than soup cans to nuts _ he had his finger on the pulse of a confused, identity-starved America.

Though by far the quietest part of the exhibit, I became intrigued with the dozen and more books Warhol had a hand in, including ``Vanishing Animals'' by Warhol and Kurt Benirschke.

That's because Sharon Wright, a Santa Cruz, California private investigator, had, a few weeks before I saw the Wexner Center for the Arts exhibit, shown me a copy of the book that was special, including some original Warhol art within its pages, and a nice story about that particular copy.

``Vanishing Animals'' was published in 1986, and the book was important because it dramatized a serious problem then, probably more serious now. ``Vanishing Animals'' drew attention, because just about anything Warhol was involved in drew attention.

The copy I held in my hands belongs to a good friend of Wright's, Rosalind Murphy, now a Californian, but in the late 1980s an elementary grade school teacher in Weston, CT.

As Wright relates it, the Natural History Museum in New York City had a booksigning for ``Vanishing Animals'' and when Murphy showed up with her students on a field trip, Warhol went out of his way to welcome them and talk to the kids about saving animals.

``Rosalnd said he showed a real interest in the kids, and a great passion for the plight of the animals,'' said Wright, ``She said he must have spent at least fifteen minutes with her and her class.''

See, there's that fifteen minutes again. Warhol used a few of them to sign Rosalind Murphy's book three times, and then he settled in and did a flowing, full page drawing of a butterfly, making this a pretty interesting book, with a history.

And, while that also made it a more valuable book, Rosanlind Murphy didn't think of it that way; rather, she got it as a gift for a favorite aunt, an artist and rancher who was, of course, interested in art and animals.

And, one assumes, the aunt probably soon cultivated an interest in Andy Warhol, who had been a good guy that day.

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Hi Steve,
I can think of another good deed that Warhol is partly responsible for. He could not draw (in a traditional manner) himself, but ironically, he believed there was an absence of traditional drawing skills in the art world and partly founded what is now the New York Academy of Art. One of only three graduate schools specializing in realist figurative art in America today.

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Thanks, Warren,

that is another side of him probably little known. The ``butterfly'' he drew in the book mentioned above is less than traditional. In fact, I wondered for a while whether it was an elephant! In any case, I find it flowing and elegant.