Pop artist makes treasures for Americans, using their trash

Pop artist makes treasures for Americans, using their trash 

By Jessica Farrish For The Fayette Tribune 

A premier New York "cerealist" artist is in West Virginia, and he's talking to Mountain State kids.
Michael Albert is like most artists: his art started in an unconventional way. However, Albert's artistic epiphany and his pioneer leap into pop art was really, really original — even for an artist's.
He shared his story Wednesday with a group of moms and kids at the Shady Spring Public Library.
In the 1980s, Albert was a business major at the Stern School of Business of New York University in Manhattan. He liked to visit the many museums in the city. He appreciated that some museum visits were free.
One day, as he toured the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he was struck by a new urge.
"That's when I had a dream to try to be an artist myself," Albert recalled Wednesday. "I just had this crazy dream that maybe 100 years from now, when I'm not around anymore, maybe something that I created could be in a museum, and, maybe 50 years from now, say, some of you could come with your own children and grandchildren and look at my work and remember that we met at the library at Shady Spring."
He went back to his room, he said, and started a self-portrait, drawing himself as composed by items that appeared in his dorm room. His showed his first self-portrait, finished 27 years ago, to those at the workshop.
Over the years, he said, he began focusing on collage art.
In Albert's own words, he's a "cerealist" artist. He creates collages from cereal boxes.
Kids and adults at the workshop showed enthusiasm for Albert's work. Although he inspires kids, Albert uses whimsy and throw-away materials to construct visual representations of different concepts. Some of his pieces, like "The 23rd Psalm" and "The Lord's Prayer," visualize faith. He "cereal-ized" history with the collages "The Preamble to the Constitution" and "The Gettysburg Address."
In 2014, he made "Chemical Spill," a collage that was inspired by the Elk River chemical spill in Charleston.
In "Chemical Spill," a slightly forbidding collage, Albert twists culturally reassuring fonts like the Kellog's "ll" and Lipton "Li" into an artistic warning.
"Mostly, I make art by cutting up cereal boxes and recycling different materials with my art," he said. He added that he wants people to look at his art and ask, "Who is Michael Albert? Why did he cut up cereal boxes?"
"Maybe that's a crazy dream," Albert noted. "But it was my dream."
A father and businessman who owns Sir Real Juice in New York City, Albert keenly markets his art, offering his prints in a book ("An Artist's America"), puzzles ("Map of the USA," "The Number Pi") and postcards and greeting cards.
His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and smaller newspapers around the United States.
Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority Education Director Sherrie Hunter said Wednesday that her organization brought Albert back to West Virginia after she'd seen Albert's workshop at the Youth Museum in Beckley last year.
Hunter is the organizer of a school recycling program that's heading into its 15th year in Raleigh County schools, and helped to organize school recycling in Fayette County. This past school year, Raleigh County students turned in 432 tons of recyclable items, Hunter reported.
"We thought, what a perfect opportunity because students in Raleigh County have been recycling through elementary, middle and high schools for 14 years," Hunter said. "What's a more perfect place to have Michael Albert visit than our county, which has been promoting 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' for the last 14 years?"
She said that Albert's eye-popping collages are a perfect fit with her program message that "old things" can be turned into something new.
"He shows students that, yes, it's in a recycling bin, but you can reuse it," Hunter said. "You can put your own spin on it and create your own masterpiece."
Albert is touring and will be at the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority in Lanark today from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, he'll visit the Lively Family Amphitheater in Oak Hill at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. On Saturday, Albert will appear at the Heritage Festival in Fayetteville from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tour information and views of Albert's artwork is available on his website, www.michaelalbert.com.

Pop art, not pop-up: Ballplayer to loom over Cincinnati

 Carol Motsinger

A rendering of the 30-story tall baseball player projection and All-Star Game signage that will be featured on Carew Tower. Installation has already begun. Also visible here is Mr. Redlegs’ trademark pillbox hat and mustache on the Scripps Center.(Photo: Provided)
Cincinnati is welcoming the biggest figure in baseball even before the 86th MLB All-Star Game festivities come to town.
Like 20-stories-tall big.
Starting tonight, a massive image of a 19th century Cincinnati Red Stockings player will be projected on Carew Tower and continue from 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. each night through July 15. It represents a bit of one-upmanship over All-Star Game promotion elsewhere.
"We wanted to brand this city and do something that hadn't been done in other cities ... to really give people something fun and festive," said Chip Thompson, vice president at Prestige Audio Visual. The installation is a project of Prestige and the Reds organization.
The Reds will host a lighting celebration at 9:30 p.m. today at Fountain Square, said Michael Anderson, the team's public relations manager.
The player, with bat in hand, will be in good company: His neighbor is Mr. Redlegs himself. The top of nearby Scripps Center sports a vinyl version of the mascot's pillbox hat and mustache.
All-Star related art has been transforming Greater Cincinnati for weeks. Area businesses display All-Star Game signage. Even the sidewalks have sprouted facial hair: Large handlebar mustache statues are now on display throughout the region.
The design for all of these elements are centered on one thing: Tradition. The throwback aesthetic references the styles of 1869, the year Cincinnati became home to America's first professional baseball team.
The look isn't the only old-school element of the Carew Tower project.
Thompson uses technology that was cutting edge some 60 years ago. Two large-format slide Pani projectors from the 1950s will produce the Red Stocking player.
These type of projectors were originally used to light operas, Thompson said. Artists would paint scenes on slides as a set design replacement. The only place that this technology is used regularly today is at theme parks such as Disney.
The main reason to rent the Pani projectors? To save money, Thompson said. Modern projection technology such as that used for Lumenocity would cost five times as much, he said.
The equipment will be installed about 400 feet away from Carew Tower on the roof of the Westin Cincinnati. An operator will monitor the machines while they are running.
That's because these powerful projectors require, well, a lot of power. "Each projector is pulling enough power to light about two homes," Thompson said.
And the 12,000-watt bulbs each uses is so strong that Thompson commissioned the artist to create 14 slides for the two-week run.
"The heat from the projectors will degrade the medium itself," he said.
Carew Tower as a canvas also presented challenges. The 574-foot-tall icon's brown color is not an ideal, crisp white, Thompson said. There is a lot of ambient light downtown that will interfere with the image, he added.
And another type of light would send the Red Stockings player packing.

"If there is lightning, we will shut it down," he said. That's because the projectors are set up next to the Westin's lightning rod.

How a Los Feliz Nun Became the Anti-Warhol of Pop Art

Sister Corita Kent fought for food justice with visuals

Sister Corita Kent was ahead of her time. A radical nun, activist and artist, her printmaking skills and artistic sensibilities were cutting edge. Despite having groovy famous creative friends and being part of a powerful institution— the Catholic church—Frances Elizabeth Corita Kent’s feminist, pro-civil rights, and pacifist politics made her a highly visible figure, yet kept her marginalized. Beginning in 1946, Iowa-born, L.A.-raised Kent taught in the art department at Immaculate Heart College (her alma mater, and now Immaculate Heart High School) in Los Feliz, until she left the order Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and moved to Boston in 1968. She died from cancer in 1986 at the age of 67.
Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent is the first formalized public effort to review the sweep of her life and career. The exhibition originated at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and has finally arrived on Kent’s home turf in Southern California at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

In this survey, audiences can see how Kent shed light on a particular issue that’s become a larger part of the cultural dialogue in recent years: food justice. Kent knew how important it was for everyone to have access to nourishing meals. Following is a selection of Sister Corita’s incredible own Pop Art brand of food-related imagery from the exhibition, which is on view at PMCA through November 1st.
— Jessica Ritz
Sister Corita wound send her students from IHC across the street to the Market Basket grocery store at the southwest corner of Franklin and Western (where a Rite Aid now stands), where she found inspiration in items ranging from iconic American processed foods packaging to fresh produce signage. In crafting her own Pop Art approach, she mastered serigraphy printmaking techniques to deconstruct imagery and text in ways previously unseen.
In contrast to a certain influential artist of the time with whom Kent’s work is inevitably compared, her sensibility had “a more literate quality” than Andy Warhol, said Sasha Carrera, the Creative Consultant (and former director) of the Corita Art Center in Los Feliz. Sister Corita would “juxtapose bold graphics with intimate text,” quoting her favorite writers such as E.E. Cummings, Langston Hughes, and Gertrude Stein, in addition to making pop culture references.
She appropriated “Madison Avenue signage for her own ecumenical purposes,” explained independent curator Michael Duncan, who co-curated the exhibition with Ian Berry of Skidmore College in collaboration with the Corita Art Center. In this case, borrowing General Mills’ “The Big G stands for goodness” logo and ad slogan works as satire and a call to action, speaking to multiple aspects of physical and spiritual nourishment.
 “The slogans of Wonder Bread were perfect for her” and provided “an early way of commenting on consumerism” when contrasted with a quote from Albert Camus, Duncan said. This period in her career dovetailed with LBJ’s War on Poverty and the introduction of the Great Society programs, too.
 “There’s always humor, and always sophisticated formal qualities” in Sister Carita’s output, Carrera observed.

Want to take some bread and toast and other Sister Carita souvenirs home? Then pick up the Bauer Pottery mugs available in the museum’s gift shop.