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Longtime fans of Andy Warhol and newcomers to the artist’s work can both experience something new Sept. 12 at the River Arts Center.

The River Arts Center is hosting Warhol’s work in a free exhibit open to the public through Nov. 22 at 105 9th St. in Prairie du Sac.

Featured original screen prints by Warhol include the “Cowboys and Indians” and “Reigning Queens” series.

“I think it is one of the best exhibits we’ve ever had at the River Arts Center,” said River Arts Inc. Executive Director Lindsey Giese. “I was struck by the beauty, the uniqueness of it. It’s Warhol but… it’s a later style of him that a lot of people don’t know about, and it’s stunning.”

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. is Sept. 12. The space is open to viewers 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 22.

“I’m really excited about this show,” said Kristina Coopman of the River Arts Center. “This is probably a landmark show for us. It’s really important, I think, for people of all ages and backgrounds to be exposed to art, and this is probably the only chance they’ll get to see a Warhol in a rural Wisconsin gallery.”

The exhibit is the culmination of a years-long lobbying effort to bring Warhol’s work to Sauk Prairie, which began when Coopman met University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Art Curator Emma Hitzman at a conference.

Coopman asked Hitzman to loan out some of Warhol’s work kept at UW-Green Bay and after a two-year discussion, the pieces are finally here.

“The Warhol show was a really fantastic piece of networking and great cooperation,” Coopman said.

River Arts Managing Director Nick Dingman said the Warhol exhibit is a milestone for River Arts.

“What I’m most excited about is having an artist featured in our gallery that is a well-known artist,” Dingman said. “This is something that I think really helps legitimize our art gallery… (it) really helps the public understand we can have great artwork here.”

Dingman said students in Sauk Prairie schools learn about Warhol’s work and having some of it on school grounds takes the experience to a new level.

“Advanced high school art classes have come down and spent a class period looking at the art,” Dingman said.

Coopman said even Warhol experts will have something new to see, as some of the pieces are less well-known and showcase a different aspect of the artist.

“These pieces are made primarily from 1985-86 and Warhol passed away in ‘87, so these are the very end of his career,” Coopman said. “It’s sort of his own twilight reckoning… you see a different side of him in these pieces.”

Donald Topp, a Madison-based artist, also will have his work featured at River Arts alongside Warhol’s.

“I love bringing a landmark show like Warhol, but then tying it back to our local roots,” Coopman said. “I think it’s a really fun bridge we’ve been able to make with those two artists.”

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl or contact him at 608-697-6353

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