He gathered that much from the letters his aunt, Warhol’s mother, sent to Mikova, the hamlet in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains where both the artist’s parents lived before emigrating to the United States.
“I thought he painted houses,” said Jan Zavacky, 73.
Nobody in Mikova has made that mistake for a long time.
Since Warhol’s death in 1987, the tiny village in Slovakia has — more or less — embraced its role as a place of pilgrimage for his fans. They come seeking to understand how Warhol’s family origins may have played in his rise into a global art star who grabbed so much more than just 15 minutes of fame.
The nearby town of Medzilaborce has turned a large Communist-era post office into the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art. The town’s main drag has been renamed Andy Warhol Street. On it stands the Andy Hostel.
On the road to Mikova, a sign with Warhol in his trademark wig of wild hair proudly announces the village as his family home.
After waves of emigration, few villagers remain — a cow herder, a few dozen pensioners and a cluster of Roma families. But all know the story of how the U.S.-born son of Andrej Varchola and Julia Zavacky-Varchola made it big in New York, after changing his surname to Warhol.
Few of the 100 or so residents, though, think much of his art.
In America, “you don’t need to be very good at something,” observed Julia Varcholova, another cousin, who uses a different spelling of the family name. “You just need to be different. You don’t need to sing or paint well so long as you do it differently.”Warhol, she said, “was very good at being different.”
She much prefers Rembrandt because “at least you can see he put a lot of work into his paintings.”
On the edge of Varcholova’s property in Mikova, which she left years ago to move to the city but still visits regularly, stands an old stone well, the only remaining structure from when Warhol’s father lived on that piece of land. Warhol enthusiasts from the United States and across Europe have come to admire it, she said.
A dozen documentary films in multiple languages feature the village, which is so far from the beaten track that it may clarify what the often-cryptic Warhol meant when he said, “I come from nowhere.” Mikova doesn’t even have a cafe or bar, usually an indispensable feature of the smallest Slovak villages.
For many years, Warhol’s perceived strangeness was a big handicap in how he was regarded in these tradition-bound lands.
In Britain, Even Children Are Feeling the Effects of Austerity 英國厲行撙節 兒童也受影響
It was half past eight, and the school day was just starting at Morecambe Bay Primary, a state-run elementary school in northwest England. Siobhan Collingwood, the head teacher, pointed to a cheerful boy munching his way through two slices of toast — his first meal of the day.
Some students trickled through without stopping; they had already eaten. But a few dozen headed straight to the food counter. Of 350 students, roughly one in three would not have breakfast unless the school provided it, Collingwood reckoned.
During Collingwood’s 13 years as head teacher at Morecambe Bay Primary, there were always a few hungry children. But two years ago, the staff noticed an increasing number of youngsters returning undernourished after spending school breaks at home.
Initially, Collingwood and her staff were puzzled: Many parents held jobs, even if they struggled to cover the bills. Then it dawned on them that the rising number of hungry children at Morecambe Bay coincided with sharp reductions in welfare benefits associated with the clumsy introduction of a new welfare program.
“As we spoke to parents,” Collingwood said, “it became clear that for many of them, it was caused by changes to the benefit system rolled out in recent years, which were forcing families into crisis.”
Across Britain, the number of children living in poverty has jumped sharply in the past six years, a trend that critics blame in part on the Conservative-led government’s policy of austerity, the budget-slashing response to the 2008 financial crisis that is steadily reshaping British life.
And there is no immediate relief on the horizon. The County Councils Network, a group of local governing bodies, warned recently of more than $1 billion in budget cuts nationwide next year, draining more money from social services, including some for children.
To be clear, Britain is not Venezuela. Reports of hungry children showing up in Morecambe doctors’ offices with rickets have proved false. But that is cold comfort in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, one that over the years has made a strong commitment to child welfare.