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Pittsburgh, Pa., has The Warhol. Can York, Pa., secure The Jeff Koons?

Artwork from internationally known artist and Dover, Pa., native Jeff Koons is inserted into a rendering for the proposed York Museum of Art. In many ways, YOMA has given way to a separate project at the old Fraternal Order of Eagles building nearby. But the concept of displaying Jeff Koons’ work in York should not be lost in planning to enhance York’s art scene. Also of interest: Filmmaker about York, Pa.: ‘Found a terrific support network for creative entrepreneurship’ and Check out this list for induction into York County Arts & Entertainment Hall of Fame and Start Your Engines: World-renowned artist Jeff Koons drives into center of York’s art community.

‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ filmmaker Carl Kurlander brought many good ideas to York in his recent visit.
A motive for bringing him here was to transfer some of the ideas from Pittsburgh’s renaissance to York.
I’m not sure if this was on Carl’s list or not, but here’s one such idea ripe for importation:
A bright spot of Pittsburgh’s renewal is the Andy Warhol Museum, bringing together the artwork and story from that late pop artist and native son of Pittsburgh.
Which leads to the question of why York County couldn’t deploy the same idea with the person and work of Jeff Koons, a native son compared to Warhol among pop artists of the past 50 years.
The idea of a museum showing Koons’ work is not new.
But after I visited the very interesting Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh recently, the idea of a permanent museum and archives of Koons work really seems possible.
Here are some scattered observations:

1. The Warhol museum is not housed in a memorable building, so up front costs for brand-new construction of a super-modern building to house the museum is not necessary. Indeed, York has many buildings of architectural significance available for such a project.
2. The location of the Warhol museum is not in a highly visible area. In fact, it’s kind of tucked away. The sum of points 1 & 2: The artist and his work draws the people, not the building or location.
3. Koons made an appearance at the Governor’s Council for the Arts in York in 2009 and appeared to enjoy his home county. And vice versa.
4. The artist is acquiring land in southeastern York County on and around ancestral property, so he has literal buy-in here. In fact, he told the York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News when a pumped-storage hydropower plant was looking at acquiring land on Cuff’s Run: “This could be something tied in with my own legacy. We would just like to have a nice cushion around the place so we can protect it, preserve it, and have it be a beautiful place to go. Someday, possibly, this area could be part of some foundation. It’s part of my cultural history, and I’d like to continue to share it with people.”
5. At the risk of being presumptuous, if land in his family’s past is part of his cultural history supported by a foundation, perhaps Jeff Koons would see a museum and archives in the arts district of York similarly.
6. This is a project for York College and Penn State York to jointly get behind. Such a museum and archives would provide classroom opportunities, and students at these schools could aid in ongoing research in Koons’ place in the international art world.
Think about this for a second. A vibrant arts district is a key plank in York’s renaissance platform. York is fortunate to have grown an internationally known artist with still-strong roots.
The Jeff Koons Museum would make sense on all kinds of levels.
Also of interest
Jeff Koons’ sculpture brings record for a living artist’s work
Here are other celebs from York who have gained prominence on the national arts and entertainment stage:
– Actor Craig Sheffer.
– Country music’s The Dixie Chicks (or at least the two members with local ties).
– Bluegrass artist Del McCoury.
– Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth.
– Screen writer Laurice Elehwany.
– The voice of “Law and Order” Steve Zirnkilton.
– Playwright Ken Ludwig.
– Author Rita Mae Brown.
The Drifters Charlie Thomas.
– Local band The Magnificent Men.
U.S. Mint artist/engraver Don Everhart..
Composer Dominick Argento.
– Rocker Ed Kowalczyk.
– Best-selling author Jonah Lehrer.

*Rendering courtesy of Murphy and Dittenhafer.