Put a Flower on It? Andy Warhol in Tacoma

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The Tacoma Art Museum’s Andy Warhol exhibit, “Flowers for Tacoma,” doesn’t just feature the artist’s past creations, it looks into what could potentially be his future — perhaps something permanent in Tacoma.

In 1982, the City of Tacoma decided it wanted to put an artsy spin on the giant top of the Tacoma Dome so artists nationwide were asked to come up with design proposals. Andy Warhol, one of the “it” artists of the 20th Century, submitted one of the most whimsical and colorful ideas. “Andy Warhol would like to see the Tacoma Dome as a large flower,” his proposal reads (which is featured in the TAM exhibit with his signature).

Tacoma wasn’t ready for that. Warhol’s proposal ended up being the least favorite among city officials and citizens. The Citizens to Install Andy Warhol’s Flower on (the) Tacoma Dome is a group of Warhol enthusiasts and art advocates working to make Warhol’s vision a reality. Tacoma’s arts administrator Amy McBride has been in contact with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Warhol Foundation in New York.

“This would be international news. It would be visible from the air, pointed out by pilots as they fly over Tacoma, visible on TV when any events are filmed here,” said McBride. “The Warhol Flower would be a perfect icon for Tacoma because we are such a strong arts and culture community with six museums within walking distance and a jumping theater district.”

There’s just one minor wrinkle in the plan to put Warhol’s daisy on the Dome — he died roughly 25 years ago. But this doesn’t seem to affect McBride and the group. In fact, it only solidifies the fact that no other city will ever have another original Warhol.

“This is an opportunity that no other city has. It isn’t about ‘decorating’ the Tacoma Dome, it’s about realizing the world’s largest Andy Warhol,” said McBride.

Though McBride and her team are still in the process of studying the feasibility of this enormous project and anticipate needing private support, they are as enthusiastic as ever.

“Having his intentions so clearly stated is huge. It means that we would have a higher probability of making this happen than any other community,” said McBride.

The “Flowers for Tacoma” exhibit at TAM runs through Feb. 10. You can join the group looking to turn the Dome into a Warhol work of art at facebook.com/WarholonTacomaDome. You can sip a Warhol-inspired IPA at Tacoma’s Harmon Brewery, too.

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is the managing editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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