Dick Scaife: 'Art can ... inspire us to live better lives'
The 20th anniversary of Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum reminded me of the day I met the artist.
It was in 1981 at Warhol's Manhattan studio, “The Factory.” Over takeout sandwiches, he agreed to paint a portrait of another Pittsburgh icon — industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie — that I would donate to Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art.
I met Warhol one more time along with his famous protégé, Ultra Violet.
One word best described her: Fun.
Some of you may be surprised to learn that I admire Warhol's work; it might not seem to be my style.
But art of all kinds is one of the greatest joys, great treasures, and most worthwhile philanthropies of my life and my family's.
In 1930, near the end of a decade as Treasury secretary, my great-uncle Andrew Mellon donated his $40 million art collection and $10 million in construction money to create Washington's National Gallery of Art.
Andrew's niece — my mother, Sarah — did something similar here four decades later. She and I gave money and art to create a gallery in her name at the Carnegie. It doubled the museum's exhibition space; a New York Times art critic called it an “unflawed paradise.” Today, its collection includes European and American art, as well as African and Egyptian pieces.
I've donated works to the National Gallery and to other museums. But Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg and Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pa., hold special places in my heart; both have great collections and excellent staffs.
I've been fortunate to fill my homes with beautiful art. I love 19th- and 20th-century American landscapes; I never liked most French or Modern Art, although I've acquired some of each.
I've always been proud of the many painters and other artists from Western Pennsylvania. One of my favorites, Chas Fagan, has painted and sculpted American presidents — and painted a portrait of me so lifelike that some visitors think it is a photograph.
I mention all of this not to toot the family horn, but to make a point:
Of all the money I've donated or spent, the most enduring pleasure and reward came from buying art.
This country is blessed with many wonderful museums with spectacular collections and exhibitions you can see for free or a nominal fee.
Some of our Founding Fathers recognized the value of public art and promoted it from our nation's outset.
I've heard many people mention their joy at spending a day in a museum, the beautiful works they've seen (and some works they didn't consider “art” at all).
Yet, sadly, the arts usually suffer first when schools, museums, cities or the nation fall on hard times. This is shortsighted, in my opinion.
Beautiful art — paintings, music, literature, movies, whatever — can transform our moods, lighten our hearts, make us think or change our minds, inspire us to be creative or to live better lives.
As I near the end of my life, I hope many others continue to support America's museums, artists and art programs so future generations can enjoy and benefit from them.
I know most people don't have the freedom I've had to collect paintings. Yet all parents, however rich or poor, can — and should — encourage their children to experience and appreciate the arts.
And if you buy some work of art — a simple sketch, a print, an original painting, a great book or recording — you will never spend more worthwhile money.
(This is another in a series of articles by Tribune-Review publisher Dick Scaife, who announced in a May 18 column that he has inoperable cancer. In these, he shares with readers some current issues or concerns, recollections and personal interests that he considers important.)
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Five questions facing Steelers entering training camp
- Steelers cut linebacker Kion Wilson, sign cornerback Toler
- Dunbar Twp. man held for trial in DUI fatality
- New Kensington-Arnold principals given new duties to reflect realignment
- A fair, and fitting, tribute
- Apollo Borough embarks on rental reform with notices to landlords
- Connellsville man held for court in robbery of pizza delivery man
- North Huntingdon woman charged with threatening to burn down officer’s house
- Kittanning firefighters set to muster up a good time in 125th year
- South Buffalo Township woman accused of stealing nearly $13K from employer
- Family to rebuild Manor home destroyed by fire