New Warhol Museum curator says 'Warhol touches everything' in art world

·4 min read

May 21—The incoming chief curator of The Andy Warhol Museum says he wouldn't even have a career in the art world if it weren't for the museum's namesake.

"Warhol touches everything," said Aaron Levi Garvey, who will arrive this summer at the museum in Pittsburgh's North Side. "I always say I wouldn't even have a job if it wasn't for Warhol. I work primarily in emerging and contemporary artists, and 20th-century art. From the late 19th century to the early 21st century, he touches everything."

Garvey, 38, is a Jewish-­American curator whose work focuses on community building through contemporary art, by creating accessible public programs and exhibitions in both institutions and alternative spaces.

"Aaron stood out in a strong field of national candidates for his commitment to supporting individual artists, particularly artists of color, while also articulating innovative ways to present Warhol's work to the public," said Patrick Moore, director of The Warhol.

Garvey is currently director of curatorial affairs at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University in Alabama, chief curator and vice chair of programs at The Hudson Eye/Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation in New York and co-founder and board adviser of Long Road Projects Foundation Inc. in Erie and Jacksonville, Fla.

"My biggest focus is on emerging artists and artists of diverse voices and that next generation, and how to codify a bedrock of support for these artists," he said. "Once there's that bedrock, or that support system, in place for that artist, they can really bounce or ascend to the next level."

Of the Warhol, he said, "It's a forward-thinking, legacy museum, and it's not just Warhol's legacy they're fostering and maintaining, but they're also fostering emerging artists.

"I'm interested in printmaking and edition printing and multiples, and those are all things that Warhol was widely known for. I'm a longtime admirer of the museum, of Warhol's legacy as a whole, the Warhol Foundation and the Carnegie (Museums) system."

At the Jule Collins Smith Museum, Garvey's work included an initiative to support the acquisition of Jewish contemporary artists; implementing a new collection management policy focusing on up-to-date collecting practices, conservation and diversity, equity, inclusion and access; acquiring works by leading women, POC and LGBTQIA+ artists; curating an exhibition series by emerging and established contemporary artists titled "Radical Naturalism"; and leading a cross-departmental program to commission public art for campus buildings.

As an independent curator, Garvey has produced exhibitions and public programs for institutions including The Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., along with the inaugural contemporary art exhibition, "We Are What We Eat," at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Garvey also has had positions with the Art For Thought Foundation in New York; SCAD Museum of Art at Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia; and The Jacobsen Foundation and Collection of American Art in New York.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in art history with a concentration in modern and contemporary art from the University of North Florida and a Master of Art degree in art administration/museum administration from the University of Kentucky. He also has worked as a guest curator and lecturer and has written for exhibition catalogs.

Garvey grew up in New York in a multi-generational household that included his mother, grandparents and great-grandparents. They traveled to Florida for holidays and summer and winter vacations. He completed high school in Florida.

"As most New York Jews do in their old age, we ended up in Florida. I like to say I started snow-birding when I was 5," he said.

Garvey will be joined in Pittsburgh by his wife, Stevie Covart Garvey, a hairstylist; his daughter, Frances Elaine Garvey, 4; and his sister-in-law, Rachel Covart, a film student who is considering attending Carnegie Mellon University, Point Park University or the University of Pittsburgh.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley by email at or via Twitter .