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CA$H FOR YOU WARHOLS!

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Call (617) 533-1103 or (617) 480-2994 if you have a Warhol to sell!

But if you call one of those numbers, each of which has appeared on signs created by artist 'Hargo,' you'll just get a satisfied Hargo.

Shortly after Brandeis University announced plans to close the beloved Rose Art Museum last January, you may have noticed conspicuously placed "CA$H FOR YOUR WARHOL" signs around Boston, most notably in front of the Rose itself. Hargo, aka Geoff Hargadon, modeled the signs after the "Cash for Your House" signs that began appearing along highways and in economically unlucky neighborhoods during the housing crisis. Hargadon hired the same Texas company that produces the “House” signs to create his “Warhol” signs and created a website to promote the "business."

Hargadon, who works as a banker by day, is know for for his "Somerville Gates" a parody of (or homage to) Christo and Jean-Claude's The Gates in Central Park. His "Warhol" signs are posted throughout the Boston area and in various major cities, but he recently moved onto billboards (pictured above). The project, a poignant, real-time satire, has culminated into an exhibit at Montserrat College of Art's Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery that includes 100 "Warhol" signs, screen prints and photographs of some of the more suggestively placed signs.

Updadate, February 3, 2010. Information absent in post:

Hargadon says:

"I have received several hundred calls since launch. For the first run I had my mobile number because I didn't think anyone would actually call it. I was wrong. On the second run I changed it to a Google Voice number, so it archives all of the messages (not the hangups, though). At some point that may turn into a spinoff of the current project - we'll see.

There are three types of calls that I get:

1. drunks at 2am ("hey, man, I got a Warhol!" - click)
2. curiosity seekers ("are you for real?")
3. people who want to sell - or buy - Warhols. I've received jpgs, documentation of various kinds, etc. It's ranged from actual paintings/screenprints to Warhol memorabilia from Studio 54, etc. A few galleries have also called up, as well as some art collectors who want to co-invest.

The project is a response to the ubiquitous CASH FOR YOUR HOUSE or CASH FOR YOUR JUNK CAR signs that we see around the city. (There are other variations.) The convergence of the economy's collapse and the pullback in the art market provided the right timing for it. It is also addresses art as a commodity or currency, as something to be bought and sold rather than art. When major works of art trade at auction the discussion is more about the gavel price rather than the work itself, and that seems strange to me. It was not a response to the troubles at the Rose, although placing a sign out there was 'low-hanging fruit.'"

The show is up through January 30 with a closing reception on Wednesday, January 27 (not Jan. 28 as the show's postcard indicates at bottom).

CC-licensed photo below courtesy Lorianne DiSabato via Flickr.

Bottom photo of billboard by Hargadon on Congress and Farnsworth streets in Boston.

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About Author

Christian Holland is an aspiring New York City-based essayist who likes writing about how New York City isn't the center of the world. He was executive editor and founding contributor of Big, Red & Shiny, and sat on the publication's board for V2.

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