Professor and the Pop Artist Toe Five II Judge Andy Warhol Expert

Article excerpt

Patrick Smith spends most of his time these days in the library at the University of Florida, doing research for his third book on Andy Warhol.

But Smith took time out to serve as judge for Toe Five II, a national juried art exhibition opening tonight at Pedestrian: A Gallery of Contemporary Art.

The competition, open to works no larger than 18 inches in any direction, attracted 300 entries, of which Smith chose 30 for the show. The name derives from the medical term for the fifth, or smallest, toe.

Smith said judging the competition, which he did by inspecting slides of the artwork, was great fun. He'll be present for a reception that begins at 7 tonight at the gallery, 2141 Park St. near Five Points.

Admission is free to the show, which will continue through Sept. 7 at Pedestrian.

Smith, who is on leave from Wichita State University, where he teaches art history, is writing a book of essays that will examine Warhol's impact on and interaction with American popular culture.

His first two books, 1986's Andy Warhol's Art and Films and 1988's Warhol: Conversations About the Artist, both published by UMI Research Press, grew out of his work on his doctoral thesis. He interviewed 130 people about Warhol, including Warhol himself.

Warhol, who was 59 when he died in 1987, was and is a major artist, Smith said, if for no other reason than "because he really captured the essence of American consumer culture."

But his greatest creation, more dazzling than any of his artworks or movies, may have been the public persona he created for himself, Smith said. …