Mel Smothers – Dear Andy: Postcards from Montauk

On View February 3–May 10, 2009

Dear Andy (Lake Tahoe) #79, 2008, oil on canvas, 46 x 46”

Dear Andy: Postcards from Montauk features the paintings of Brooklyn-based artist Mel Smothers. Smothers adopts the postcard format in his compositions, with each work personally addressed to Andy Warhol. Beginning “Dear Andy…,” and replete with postmarks rendered in paint, each piece incorporates Warholian images in order to establish a posthumous dialogue with the seminal pop artist.

Dear Andy (Montauk) #20, 2007, oil on canvas, 54 x 54”

Smothers integrates text into his paintings, following in the tradition of such artists as Vincent van Gogh and Charles Marion Russell, the 19th century landscape painter of the American West, both of whom  combined drawings and text in their personal correspondence. Smothers juxtaposes word and image to express his connection to Warhol’s work. After Warhol’s estate in Montauk was sold in 2006, Smothers visited the sprawling 5.6-acre oceanfront property on the eastern tip of Long Island to, in his words, “get a feel for the place.” During that time, he was struck by the contrast between the natural environment and Warhol’s mass produced pop art images. In response, he began making postcard-style paintings to “report back” on the things he saw in Montauk.

Dear Andy (Montauk) #23, 2008, oil on canvas, 54 x 54”

The compositions feature some of Warhol’s most recognizable images, including portraits of celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and Marilyn Monroe, and the unmistakable Campbell’s soup cans. Organic subjects which normally appear in a natural setting, such as jellyfish, bird life, and even inanimate objects that might be found washed up on the beach, dominate the faintly rendered pop art images. The result is a compelling body of work which juxtaposes two disparate subjects: the world of pop culture which Warhol embraced, and Smothers’s observations of the natural world. Thus, a dialogue is established.

Dear Andy (Montauk) #48, 2008, oil on canvas, 40 x 40”

A graduate of California State University and the University of Iowa, Smothers relocated from California to the East Coast in 1999 to pursue his career in New York City. His work has been included in both solo and group shows throughout the United States, as well as in public art and multi-media projects, and the performing arts.

As a member of the American Association of Museums, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is  committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provide educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere. The Home is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 11,000 elderly persons in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday – Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Call 718 581-1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information please visit our website at

This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.