When the names of pop art's overlord Andy Warhol and pre-punk's dark maestro Lou Reed and his Velvet Underground come up, each are, invariably, tied to their origin story in New York City. Though together since 1964, it wasn't until German chanteuse Nico and Warhol happened onto the Velvets that Reed's nihilistic, experimental ensemble won real acclaim. Starting in 1966, the Velvets were the house band at the painter's Manhattan office-studio space The Factory and played the pop prince's Exploding Plastic Inevitable multi-media events in NYC. Yet before the band released its seminal debut album,”The Velvet Underground & Nico” in March 1967, one of Warhol's fleeting few Exploding Plastic Inevitable parties outside of New York occurred at what was then Broad Street's The Arts Council of the YM&WHA (now called the Gershman Y) in December 1966.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of what was originally advertised as a two-evening "mixed-media discotheque," the Gershman Y will host a monthlong exhibition “Underground Nights: When Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable Met the Y” starting Dec. 1. The exhibit features rare films and photos of Warhol and the Velvets, along with original recorded work and memorabilia courtesy Molly's Books & Records in South Philadelphia and other private collectors. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a newly-discovered cache of stark black & white photos taken by late, local photographer Sam Moskovitz during the 1966 event. There is also a Dec. 15 showcase with two of the most Velvet Underground-inspired acts working at present when Yo La Tengo and Dean & Britta hit the Gershman Y stage.