While strolling around Chelsea on an off-gallery night, I noticed a panel of light coming from under a darkened alcove. There, I discovered Michael Albert, a self-styled post Warhol artist who calls himself a "Cerealist". The joy he takes in doing his art, a love of igniting the imagination of children, and his astute business acumen and juice business make him one artsy entrepreneur whose enthusiasm is infectious ....
Watch the movie ...
Cerealism, according to Albert, is the name he gives to his collages, largely made from cut out letters and images from cereal boxes.
The letters are painstakingly arranged into large works "spelling out" manifestos like the Constitution, the Gettysburg address, the streets of Manhattan, the states of Connecticut ... the latter two geographically correct too. Each collage takes several months to finish, and the exhibition represented over 10 years of hard cut and paste.
And curiously absorbing they are, once you get over the the initial glaze-over from the visual cacophany of Letraset gone mad. It's also the "Where's Wally?" allure - the Manhattan map features little hidden secrets like "the star of the Rockefeller" or the tow pound where illegally parked cars are hauled off to.
"People might not ever read Shakespeare, but when they recognize "to be or not to be" in my collage, they get excited - particularly kids. I can make these words come alive for them in a way the original text might not."
Another technique he uses is to simply fracture a cereal box and reassemble it like crazy paving. "You can still recognize the identity," said Albert, displaying a mosaic'd Frosties box.
One work features every animal of popular advertising and media culture you can think of.
"What about the Geico lizard?" I said, half joking.
"Here he is," said Albert, pointing to a corner. "Now, do you have Geico insurance?"
"Uh, no, I just know the lizard."
"Interesting how people know and love these characters but don't want to buy the product," said Albert, uncovering an insight that marketers would do well to explore.
The animal kingdom represented in that collage was staggering - and grouped in their respective genuses too. Chewbacca was thrust into the top right corner as he was deemed neither man or ape, but a hybrid of the two.
A collage featuring only numbers seemed like the perfect gift for your favorite actuary.
"It's the first 777 digits of the number pi," said Albert. He's waiting for a savant to come along and point out an erroneously transposed pair ...
Maybe it's a word geek thing, but I glance at Michael Albert's "Cerealism" poster of the US Constitution on my wall every morning and it really gives me a buzz - seems to synch left and right side of brain immediately and is super fun. I recommend getting one from him, the posters are very reasonably priced.
Albert is a busy man. Apart from being a fanatical artist, he runs a juice business, Sir Real, currently stocked by high profile grocers like Wholefoods, and homeschools four children with his artist wife.
All I can say is, his smile spread from ear to ear - perhaps fueled by creativity, a love of educating children, and lots of Vitamin C.
Check out Michael's latest workshops and vey affordable posters: www.michaelalbert.com