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Past, Present and Future

Art, film and fashion come together for the Inspiration Week Arts Festival

by Ann Morrow on August 15, 2013


The Onrust is an authentic replica of the first sailing ship to be made in America, built in New Amsterdam in 1614. Centuries after the harbor town was renamed New York, it produced Laurence Gartel, an internationally recognized artist acclaimed as “the father of digital media art.” On Thursday (Aug. 15), the colonial past will catch up with media futurism when Gartel is feted as the guest of honor for a party to benefit the Onrust Project. And if you are familiar with Gartel’s work, you can expect a toast or two with Absolut vodka. The onboard party is open to the public and starts at 6 PM at the Waterford Harbor Visitors Center (One Tugboat Alley, Waterford; suggested donation is $50).

Inspired: Gartel’s Artist’s Vision of Himself (2013).

Gartel began his career in media graphics in Buffalo, where he worked beside video-art pioneer Nam Jan Paik. Gartel is credited with creating photo-manipulation imagery a decade before Andy Warhol, and it was Gartel who taught Warhol—whom he met at Studio 54–how to use the Amiga computer that resulted in his famed Blondie by Blondie album cover. In 1997, Steve Jobs commissioned Gartel for Apple’s Think Different ad campaign. Gartel’s computer-generated artworks are in the collections of prominent museums from the Museum of Modern Art to the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. And on Saturday, as part of the Inspiration Week arts festival, he will present an exhibit called Then & Now at the Palace Theater, in tandem with his longtime Macworld friend, Don Rittner, the event’s organizer and an Onrust director. It is Rittner’s stereo photographs of once common, now vanishing artifacts such as hitching posts and boot scrapers that will comprise the “then” part of the show.

Gartel describes his Now exhibit as a reoriented display of “inspirational print announcements” from national and international exhibitions that will serve as a “snapshot” of the hundreds of cultural happenings he’s been involved in. Considering Gartel’s stature and protean creativity, this is a must-see exhibit—especially since the artist will be in attendance and admission is free. (It’s in the Palace Theater’s gallery, from noon until 4 PM).

All proceeds from Inspiration Week are on behalf of completing the Onrust as a voyaging museum, so it is also appropriate that on Saturday evening (Aug. 17), some personages who might’ve sailed on such a ship will be strutting in the gilded interior of the Palace Theater lobby—for the History of Fashion Show. More than two-dozen models in handmade history-themed costumes, from Dutch colonial and Victorian era to the Roaring Twenties and Swinging Sixties, along with historical locals such as Legs Diamond and Kate Mullany, will perform a narrated promenade with two sets of musical entertainment. The show begins at 7 PM; tickets are $18 and are available in advance (seating is limited). On Sunday (Aug. 18), the Palace Theater (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) will host Inspiration Week Film Fest (see the Film Specials box in the events calendar); tickets are $28 for both events. For more information, visit palacealbany.com.