After his untimely death in 1987, Andy Warhol was buried near his parents' graves in St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Bethel Park. Yes, the irony hasn't been lost on any of us. As Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner once said "Ironic... that the arbiter of taste and style and art of the 20th Century is laid to rest in an otherwise very mundane graveyard."
I grew up less than a five-minute drive away, in Castle Shannon, and reside there today. So it surprises people when I tell them that in all that time, despite passing the graveyard at the corner of Route 88 and Connor Road perhaps three or four times a week, I had never stopped to pay homage to Andy.
Until yesterday. His grave was easy to find, particularly since fans have been leaving little tributes for decades. A local artist, Madelyn Roehrig, reportedly visits daily, and chronicles her "conversations with Andy" on this website.
Left at St. John's on this particular sunny day was a plastic magenta folder, the contents of which I presume are private, so I let it be. There were also a plastic bottle of Heinz ketchup, some painted rocks, a candle, a few toys and little rubber lizards.
I'd considered planting some flowers I'd purchased at Giant Eagle a few days earlier, but in the end, taking away instead of leaving behind would be my gift.
The daffodils that probably looked great a week earlier were no longer in bloom, and I took it upon myself to deadhead them. After shooting a few photos (actually, 26) I began to walk back to my car. I'd noticed a bunch of bird droppings over the dark polished surface of Andy's tombstone. It just made me sad.
So, back to the car, where I keep a packet or two of the sort of antibacterial wipes germophobes such as I tend to collect. A bit of scrubbing, and I was back on the road.
Incidentally, while "mundane" probably describes most graveyards, Andy has a great view. Certainly, the rush of cars from the nearby roads drifts up, but there's also a lovely view of a tree-lined hillside straight ahead.