What if he'd been born Anders Warholson?
Ski wax art might be all the rage
Fifty years ago, a successful commercial artist had his first one-man exhibition as a fine artist in Los Angeles. The show featured 32 screen printed canvases all portraying cans of Campbell's Soup. Andy Warhol thumbed his nose at the abstract impressionists that dominated American art at the time. The idea of presenting ordinary mass-produced objects as art generated intense controversy. The nascent pop art scene exploded. Warhol mined the Campbell's Soup image throughout this career.
Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola to Slovak immigrant parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A friend suggested to Warhol that he paint something from everyday life. Campbell's Soup was a lunch-time staple in the Warhola household. Andy liked soup and used it as the theme for his artistic coming out party.
As I was going through my cross-country wax kit, it struck me that my old tin of Swix red kick wax reversed the colors on a can of Campbell's. It makes one wonder, what if Andrew had been born to Scandinavian American parents in Duluth, Minnesota? If young Anders had been brought up as a cross-country skier, his subject might have been different.
The red kick wax tube would have worked just as well as a soup can. The Campbell Soup paintings did not sell well at first. In Norway he would have had plenty of demand for kick wax paintings. The soup can market did eventually turn around. A painting of a can with a torn label sold for $11.8 million in 2006.
Warhol loved to use bright colors. The Swix line would have offered a much larger color palette than the red and white staple of Campbell's. I took my shot at what might have been displayed in Ander's first show in Hibbing.
Repetition was a recurring theme in Warhol's work. There's plenty of repetition in cross-country skiing. We all know the drill for glide waxing: Melt the wax, iron, scrape, brush and repeat and repeat ad infinitum. Kick waxing isn't much better as it is better to layer five to six thin layers and cork than to apply one thick one.
There's plenty of science behind cross-country ski waxing; a science that I rarely get right. Knowledge of the snow crystal structure and moisture content is important to select the proper wax for the trail. Like the proverbial blind squirrel, I sometimes get it right. The glide is fast, the kick is sure and the experience is exhilarating. To me ski waxing is an art, and when you get it right it's a masterpiece.
Mark Ollinger is chief financial officer for a trade show marketing firm in suburban Chicago. He lives in Barrington, Illinois and is patiently waiting for his 15 minutes of fame to begin.