Last week Elvis would have turned 78 years old, so the N.C. Museum of Art (NCMA) thought it appropriate to honor the King of Rock and Roll with a portrait-hanging and general celebration of his life.

The museum recently adorned a bare gallery wall with a modern classic by Andy Warhol, and on Fri. celebrated the addition of the Elvis I and II silkscreen painting, welcoming The King in style with a night of tunes and Elvis-themed food and beverages. The chef at Iris NCMA even crafted a special dinner “Love Me Tenderloin” pork dish in honor of the occasion.

photo copy 11

Andy Warhol, beloved 60’ s pop artist and counterculture hero, had a knack for silkscreen prints as well as an affinity for pop culture icons like Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. In 1963, Warhol created a large-scale piece for a L.A. gallery composed of 28 images of Elvis in various color combinations and spatial arrangements. The huge roll of canvas was cut by the gallery, resulting in 13 individual pieces of art. Elvis I and II is one of those pieces. The painting is a diptych, featuring a double image of Elvis in vivid color on the left side, with another double image of him on the right in black and silver. Elvis is presented as a cowboy from a scene in the 1960 movie Flaming Star. The iconic piece is on loan from the Art Gallery of Ontario and will be on view until Apr. 7, 2013.

The NCMA displays about only 25 percent of their collection at any given time. The rest of the art hibernates in storage, waiting to be cycled through the museum. This means something fresh is always on view at NCMA. I have been eagerly roaming the halls of this museum on a regular basis since I was a child, and invariably I am delighted to find a new favorite painting each time I enter.

photo copy 9

The NCMA continues to raise its standards and secure its spot as one of our nation’s top-notch art museums. With works ranging from ancient Egyptian sarcophagi to paintings by Renaissance masters like Botticelli, to the Rodin sculpture garden and works of well-known modern and contemporary artists like Andy Warhol, the museum’s collection is certainly one of N.C.’s finest cultural treasures.

photo copy 8

If you desire to delve deep into the visual treats filling the NCMA, patrons can easily access a free cell phone tour simply by dialing a number for each piece of art to get an explanation from a museum curator or even hear from Director Larry Wheeler himself! Admission to the museum’s permanent collection is free every day, and there is always a great temporary exhibit on view in the museum’s East Building. Right now check out Edvard Munch: Symbolism in Print, on view until Feb. 10.