In Their Own Words: Ruthie Tredwell
Everyone has a story to tell. Give them a chance and a little time and you’ll often get more than one.
Photographer David Mendelsohn always takes his time with subjects and therefore usually learns a thing or two in the process.
Ruthie Tredwell’s life has always revolved around the arts: dealer, consultant, curator and the original founder of the Portsmouth Museum of Art. As an undergrad at Parsons School of Design she landed a plum internship at Andy Warhol’s Factory, the one on Union Square, from ’81 through ’86.
Her transformation here to a Warhol-esque icon was engineered by the photographer with styling by Loretta Tower.
The parade of celebrity was eternal. I would keep company with the likes of Jagger, Bowie, Grace Jones, Madonna and Blondie. The list is too long.
The excesses of the ’80s fueled The Factory. I was often sent out to gather bags of grilled cheese sandwiches, only returning to a locked door and loud music beyond. I‘d sit on the curb, eat one or two with a bottle of cheap wine and wander home. Then again, I was allowed in to the Studio 54 parties, where I cultivated the art of stealing drinks while people were on the dance floor.
There are so many vivid stories. Daily, Andy was either normal or eccentric. He was in love with Jamie Wyeth. Andy enjoyed collecting taxidermy. Once beyond the metal door, you were greeted by a stuffed Great Dane called Cecil.
A barefoot Diana Ross once told me that I had ugly shoes.
Andy rarely produced his own silk screens and often didn’t sign them. Many of his collected pieces could likely have been crafted by me.
I learned a lot during my time there — it’s like a silk-screened bookmark in the pages of my life. It also made me quite popular at school. I am grateful for the memories.
Tredwell now runs a Hampton company that uses an innovative technology for the treatment of cancer. She says that she thinks art and science are closely related disciplines. Along with her memories, she has some memorabilia from her Factory days — like this October 1981 copy of Warhol’s Interview magazine that he signed for her (right).
(Wendy Mendelsohn, Karrah Kwasnik and Justin Cross assisted in capturing these shots.)