In far southeast, Oklahoma an 86-year-old man sits alone on the front porch of a small cabin. His penetrating blue eyes follow me as I approach. Sitting beside him, he tells me his story. His name is Harold Stevenson, an artist from Isabel OK. He left Oklahoma and moved to New York City in the fall of 1949, only a few months after Andy Warhol had arrived. They became fast friends. In 1962, Warhol painted Campbell soup cans. Robert Indiana would later give us the LOVE stamp to lick. Harold Stevenson gave us the Eye of Lightening Billy. They were all among the artists that exhibited the Sidney Janis, New Realists exhibition. It heralded in a new genre of art, defined by American artists. Pop Art was born. Stevenson went on to paint The New Adam in 1963 for the Guggenheim's Six Artists and the Object exhibition. Deemed too fantastic for the show, his invitation was withdrawn. Art defines our lives by the experiences we live. Stevenson's rejection wounded his soul. He continues his story that he continued to paint. His portraiture was exhibited at the Louvre in Paris. His work is in the Smithsonian Collection.
Harold Stevenson walks me through his small cabin. A time capsule of the birth of Pop Art awaits me. Fine dust covers boxes and boxes and piles of papers. Original ephemera shares the space with a cat and a dog that have found their way into his home. A seven page letter to Andy Warhol written in 1963, after the Soup can display remains in his position. We need the arts and we need the preservation of the arts and its history.
Harold Stevenson, Andy Warhol's lost pop star will sit on his porch and wait for me to come back tomorrow.
"Can I bring some fried chicken?" he asks me.