Connections: A Podcast of the James L. Hamner Public Library

Michael Albert: Modern Pop Artist

April 13, 2022 James L. Hamner Public Library Episode 202
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Artist Michael Albert talks to Jill about his work, including his library programs.

Contact Us: connections@hamnerlibrary.org

Featured Resource: Libby

Photo Credit: Michael Albert

Michael Albert: Artist
Connections: A Podcast of the James L. Hamner Public Library
Published April 13, 2022

Transcripts are edited to aid with ease of reading. Verbal fillers, stuttered phrases, sounds of listening, and laughter are generally removed, but grammatical errors and similar verbal idiosyncrasies are included. Ellipses (…) are used to indicate unfinished sentences or interruptions. 

[Intro Music] Jill  00:04

Welcome to Connections, a podcast of the James L. Hamner Public Library. I'm your host Jill and the ideas in this episode represent the opinions and experiences of the speakers. They may not represent the library's official position. 

Jill

Hello, everyone, with me today is artist Michael Albert. Michael will be doing a program for the library on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. It is free for anyone to come out and participate in. So, if you're listening to this before April 23, 2022, come on out and join us. 

Today Michael is going to talk a little bit about his career as an artist and his art. It's always interesting to talk about a visual art medium when this is an audio-only podcast, but you can always look up "Michael Albert artist" or "modern pop artist" and look at his website. I will just emphasize, make sure when you're looking up "Michael Albert," you use the word "art" or "artist" because there are many, many Michael Alberts in the world. 

When Michael and I started recording this episode, we were chatting with a normal, you know, how do you pronounce your name and all the sort of logistical things that goes on before I actually record the official episode, but I still have the recording going to check sound levels and all of that. And, we just got talking and so, if it seems like there is an abrupt entrance of the episode, that's why. 

Today's featured resource is the Libby app. With Libby, library account holders can download ebooks and audiobooks or stream movies. The library pays for them so the user doesn't have to. The Libby app also gives access to Artists Works and Method Test Prep. Artists Works gives users access to video lessons from Grammy Award winning music professionals, including studio quality play-along tracks. Method Test Prep offers classes and practice tests for the SAT, ACT, ASVAB, and other common tests. The Libby app is available for Android or iPhone and contact the library if you need help with your login credentials. And now for the episode.

Michael  02:40

Yeah, I'm not sure how I got in touch with Jesse over at Chesterfield, but we connected. And I think we were going to do an in-person program, but it was during COVID, so we ended up doing a Zoom workshop. And then when we started thinking about in-person programming again, he invited me to come down, and we thought April during Earth Day, you know, earth month would be a good fit, since I make art out of recycled materials.  So, he put the word out and several libraries responded, and so now I'm going to be doing a three-day visit to Virginia.

And I've been doing this traveling program since my book came out. My book, An Artist's America, it's an artists autobiography written for young people. And ever since it came out is when I developed this traveling program. And I realized that libraries are a perfect venue for a workshop. They all have community rooms, they all have people that come to the library to learn stuff and do fun things. And so I made this tour program, which is a combination of an artist visit, a hands-on workshop, and a free poster giveaway and signing. That's kind of a way for me to go into a new community and meet people and show them what I do and let them try it themselves.  

For those of you who don't know, my art form is that I cut up cereal boxes and consumer brand packages and play around with the pieces and make art out of it - collages. And these materials are so abundant, you know, there's no shortage of them. If you don't throw your garbage out for a couple of weeks, you can have a nice collection of stuff to use.  As things have evolved. I have a bunch of people in my life that whenever I see them, they give me shopping bags full of all their boxes. As long as they don't have food stains on them and food still in them and crumbs and dirt and chocolate stuck to the inside of the box, it'll work. You know, I'm not looking to have infestations in my studio. Also, glue doesn't stick well to chocolate or raisins.  But also, when I do these programs, sometimes they ask participants, you know, bring in a box and Michael Albert will show you how to turn it into a piece of art. But we just add that to the pile. 

And it's always nice, especially going to areas far from where I live. I live in New York, right outside of New York City, in White Plains.  I was gonna say that I've done my program now in 39 states over the last 14 years. And Virginia is one that I had not done. So, these will be my first programs in Virginia. That'll make 40 states. This summer, I have a tour of over 100 cities in nine states in the Midwest.  We should do something in the summer at some point. I'm sure you have a great summer reading program.

 

Jill  05:46

The theme this year is "oceans of possibilities," so you'd have to bring all your blue boxes.

 

Michael  05:54

Yes, I have a whale that I - one of my ideas, suggested ideas... When I do this program, I give the group, I show them my work and I show them several suggested ideas. You know, there's a number of things that I've done with this, these packages on a variety of themes.  I think a lot of artists pick a theme and then do many variations on that theme. And some artists have many themes that they've worked on over the, over the course of their careers. You know, like Picasso. He had his blue period, he had his cubist period, he had his surrealist period. And all that.

 

Jill  06:34

Do you think this is because you have, as an artist, you have an idea, and you try to create it, and you're like, "Okay, but then let me do this next one to try to like refine this point, or really, or do this other perspective on it." And you keep doing that until eventually you're like, "Wait, I just did a theme. And I have all this work on the same thing." Or is it more like, "I am now going to do a theme and I plan to do 75 projects on this exact..." Like, which way do you think it comes out more often?

 

Michael  07:09

No, I don't, I don't think it's that. I think you do something new and you like it and you want to do it again, because you liked it. And then maybe you do it so many times that you want to try something else at some point.  Also, it's cool to see a bunch of projects on the same theme together. They might be the same theme and the same general idea, but they're all totally different. For example, the first idea that I'll show the group is my deconstructed Frosted Flakes box, which was really my first collage I ever made using this type of material.  

I had been cutting up stickers and junk mail and old photographs and old labels and sell sheets and all sorts of materials I had either at my work or at home that I didn't need anymore. And I guess people that are really good at getting rid of clutter would have thrown it out right away to have their nice clean desk. But I just felt bad that... First of all, I knew how expensive it is to print labels and sell sheets and everything. And junk mail always really bothered me. What a waste of, you know, to send out 10,000 catalogs so that maybe one person buys something. It just seems like a terrible crime against nature.

 

Jill  08:35

The paper that a lot of magazines and catalogs are made out of can't be recycled, right? It's like that glossy clay ink, what, I don't know exactly, but, like, I've heard they can't really be recycled.

 

Michael  08:47

Well, I think some of it is. Some more environmentally friendly companies, you can see the paper it's sort of like more like a newsprint and certain inks, soy-based inks. But yeah, for the most part, no. And even the recycling takes a lot of energy. And you know, I'm a little wary about the recycling. I know even in our neighborhood, they kind of seem to dump the recycling and the garbage into the same truck. So I don't know why we separate it unless it goes into its own compartments. But also, not everybody is so careful about their recycling. Some people clean every bottle and make sure to check the number. You know, that's on the bottom of the package and stuff. But other people just throw it in there. And especially like in the public and in restaurants where they have separate bins. 

Actually, I'm going to teach my art in Sweden next month. I'm teaching ninth graders and I'm also going to Denmark. I'm having an exhibition and a workshop at a gallery in in Denmark.  But Sweden has figured out how to recycle. I think, 75 or 85% of our garbage ends up in the landfill in the United States. And there, like 1% does. They figured out how to clean it, separate it, and then use it to create energy. And they actually buy garbage from their neighbors and turn it into energy. You know, somehow they have figured it out.  

In any case, I used to go through the mail at my job at my business. I had a business, food distribution business I had started. And at some point, you know, I just with disgust about how much garbage just created in our everyday lives, even if we're not, you know, terrible consumers or anything like that, I started saving pieces of junk mail that had like stickers on them. Sometimes they had like a piece of junk mail that had like a shiny sticker on it, and it said, peel this sticker off, put it on this postcard, mail it in, and you'll get a free subscription to our magazine or, you know, a voucher, a vacation voucher or something, it was really like saying, "Send this in and we'll put you on even more lists. So you get more junk mail." 

I also realized how expensive it was to even just do that. To have a sticker in the middle of a magazine, you know, you have to have a piece of wax paper adhered to it, then the sticker is on there. No. If you wanted to get that done, let's say as a mailer for the library, it would, unless you did like 10,000 of them, it would really be expensive. Maybe these days, it's a little less, because they've really figured out how to print and do things better. 

But either way, I would save those little stickers. And then whenever I would finish using a writing pad, or one of those little pads that with the pink paper that said while you were out. You know the message pads? I would take the cardboard and save that. And then I would take those stickers and put them all over these little pieces of cardboard and take all this sort of byproduct of my business life and turn them into these little collages. And they were kind of fun to look at. And they were filled with little miscellaneous things. And sometimes I started cutting them so they'd fit in better. From that I started using old labels and sell sheets in the same kind of a way. 

And a lot of times I would be making these collages while making phone calls. Because you spend a lot of time on hold when you're calling customers for orders or trying to get a customer on the phone in a store. Rather than just sitting there, I would start making these collages. I always had this dream of being an artist. So it was kind of a way of keeping that dream alive. Like even though I'm doing business. I'm making art.  

And from there at home, I realized I had a lot of bad photographs of my kids and family. You know, before the digital age, I took a lot of photographs with film. And you didn't get to see your pictures until you pick them up. And many of us that are my age and older have boxes full of photographs. And we never even throw away the bad ones. We just keep them. Some people are organized enough to put them in albums, but you still have many left over. I started taking those and cutting those up and making cubist portraits of my family and myself, self-portraits using these extra photographs. And I liked doing that a lot. And I realized I could take good photographs of people and cut them up and make a cubist portrait of a person, give it to them as a gift. It's almost like looking at yourself through a kaleidoscope. And sometimes I would take multiple pictures of a person: smile, don't smile, make a funny face, you know, and then cut them all up into one composition. And it was kind of cool.  

That progression led me to one day taking a Frosted Flakes box, and just, you know, it was, I call it a mad, magical moment when I just took this Frosted Flakes box, cut the cover off of it, cut it up into pieces, just like I had been doing with these photographs, glued it onto the back of a writing pad, you know, eight and a half by 11 piece of cardboard. And, it was like, almost like an Andy Warhol-esque portrait of a, you know, mundane, every-day brand, like a Campbell's soup can.  But to me, you know, maybe Campbell's Soup, in the '50s or in the late '50s, early '60s when Andy Warhol did that represented, you know, this post-war grocery store, you know, life that our country had had evolved into. And now, mine more presented this, you know, '60s, '70s insanity of cartoon characters trying to convince us that, you know, sugared cereals are healthy because they have seven vitamins and minerals in them. Just buy this and eat it because there's a toy inside, you know. 

People, I remember with my brothers, you know, we would practically kill each other if somebody, like, opened the box and put their hand in to try to get the toy before, you know, anyone ate any cereal, you know, busting the box open. Cereal all over the place just to get some plastic little toy.

 

Jill  15:38

I haven't bought cereal in I don't even know how long. Do they still have toys in cereal boxes?

 

Michael  15:45

I don't know. I don't know. I've been eating Ezekiel 4:9 cereal, sprouted-grain cereal. I would imagine they probably do.  

So yeah, that's the first idea would be to just take any box, and I'll bring an assortment of boxes, and hopefully, maybe some of the people that come and maybe some of your staff will collect some boxes. And if they want to try that, they just pick a box, cut it up, and put it back together again.  

And then as I, as my art evolved, I mean, talking about themes, for about three years, I did practically nothing but that. And made over 700 cereal box deconstructions and probably another close to 1,000 of other products. Like, you know, the more I started doing it, I'm like I have to do every product there is. Ritz crackers, Lipton tea, Arm and Hammer baking soda, Cascade dishwashing powder, you name it. Chips Ahoy. Even like, you know, Stovetop stuffing, Kraft mac and cheese. I mean, it's endless.  

And I still have this idea of having a big exhibition of all these products deconstructed in a big gallery with no signs at all. And everybody has to come and guess what they are. And some are really easy, and some are more obscure. If you eat it, if you, if you're a consumer of a given brand, you know it instantly. You don't even need the entire thing mixed up, you just need really one piece. Oh, that's from a, that's from a Diet Coke package, you know. You know that because of the color. It's got some silver, it's got some black, and some red, and a little white. That has to be Diet Coke. So that was fun. It's you know, it's almost like a geometry exercise.  

You know, I could cut the box up into squares. I could cut it into little triangular pieces. I could cut it into strips. I have this one way that I would cut the box up called "the boardwalk effect" where I'd cut the box into a strip and then cut the strip into little slivers, little like rectangular slivers, until the whole box was a pile of these slivers. And then I'd lay them down and mix them all together like a salad, and then glue them down one by one, almost like a boardwalk or a wooden floor. And it looks like it's almost melting, you know.  

And then sometimes, I mean, I started doing things like I'd cut the box in half, cut all the pieces from the left side and glue them onto the right side of the board. Take all the pieces from the right side, cut those up and glue them onto the other side of the board. Just to, just to see if it, what effect it would have. Visually. It might seem silly, but I think that whole idea was inspired by Monet.  You know, the famous impressionist painter, because he's the first artists that I know of that did multiple versions of it, of his given scene. 

If you know his work, or you want to look up his work, he did about 26 paintings, I think, of the view of the Rouen Cathedral. He had a studio looking down on the front of the Rouen Cathedral and apparently he had windows in his studio with that view. And he put up like six or eight canvases at the time, painting the same view. And the colors were changed because if it was bright in the morning and midday or it was getting to be later in the day or if it was an overcast day, the colors that he used would change, but it was of the same scene.  And then he did like 30 paintings of haystacks. And he did his water lily scenes. He did many water lilies scenes. And another one of his themes was the Japanese footbridge. And it's cool to see all 20 Rouen Cathedral paintings or, you know, in a book or in an exhibition, that kind of thing. So he's serious. He's Monet from the Impressionists, but I'm just Michael Albert, who cuts up cereal boxes. 

But who says that my Cheerio box I cut up in July 1998 at my mother's house, you know, as compared to my Cheerio box I cut up, you know, while I was at a workshop at a library in Virginia, or sitting at my kitchen table, or this is the Cheerio box with the Jurassic Park logo promotion on the cor.., bottom corner of it, and then you see all the Cheerio boxes. It's really the same idea of that.  And I think it's more... Well, it's just as relatable, maybe more relatable, to people of our time, because people would remember some of these things. And either way, it's fun to kind of look at it and try to figure out what is that, you know, "Where, oh, yeah, I recognize that." And I also then started putting messages in my work. Cheerios, to me is one of my great iconic themes. Even though I did 700 cereal boxes, I think I did about 70 or 75 Cheerio boxes alone.

 

Jill  20:56

Just the regular... 

 

Michael  20:57

Regular yellow-box Cheerios.  Which it's interesting, because I was just saying I was going to be going to Europe, and I had gone there once before, and they don't have the yellow-box Cheerios. Their Cheerios is the white box with the purple letters. Which I think is like the multigrain variety that we have now. Which to me is not classic. I mean, maybe it's now classic, because it's, for the last 10 years or so it's more classic. But to me, the yellow Cheerio box is the, you know, the original. That's the most classic thing.  

And my dad used to eat Cheerios. M mother always gives me her boxes. She's always saved me the boxes. But I used to go to their house, like after dinner, my family would go and watch television, and I'd sit in the kitchen cutting up my dad's Cheerio boxes. Because I don't really watch TV. And I'm really trying hard to be an artist, especially over the, when I was younger. For years, I would just every free time I had, all I would do is make art.  

I still do that. I just have more things to do now that stopped me from making art. But, making art has always been this special time that I've squeezed out of my life, even though especially with the computers and the phones these days, you can spend a lot of time doing stuff. Going down rabbit holes and whatnot. And you have to discipline yourself to do the things that you really want to do that are important to you.  I think writers have that a lot, too. They need to put themselves in a room with no distractions and write. If you're distracted, then you're not doing the thing that you want to do.  

But, my family would go and watch television, and I'd sit there cutting up my dad's Cheerio boxes and my family's like, "What's wrong with Michael?"  I'm like, "What's wrong with you? You're watching reruns of Seinfeld and movies you've already seen 10 times. I listened to music while I'm making art, but I'm creating a masterpiece." They're like, "Sure you are, okay. See ya later."

 

Jill  22:55

Since you brought it up, we do need to address for parents, and I'm sorry, you've probably answered this question 1,000 times. But, there's a parent who's thinking, "Why would I take the trouble to take my kid to a program at the library or museum or wherever, when I could just hand them a cereal boxes and scissors and glue and get the same thing?" What's the point of your program?

 

Michael  23:22

They get to meet Michael Albert, the American pop artist doing this for 30 years! They get to meet the author who did this and ask questions and see what a person who does this is like.

They get to not only see the deconstructed cereal box, but I'm also going to show them 20 other examples of art, and describe them to them, and tell them stories. And then they will have the chance to do the same project that I do.  But I, I guess one of the great benefits besides the incredible honor of meeting me, I give everybody who participates in the program a choice of about 20 different posters that I'm going to show them. So not only do they get to meet the artist, hear my story, see examples of my work, and then do a hands-on project where they get to try using the same materials I do to create something, they get to leave with a signed print as a gift for coming.  These are the same prints I sell on my website. Go to my website, michaelalbert.com, and you'll see the same posters that I'm selling for 50 and 100, and even more, and that sell, I'm going to give freely to every single person that comes to the program. They're self -published, limited-edition offset prints that I've published over the years and on a variety of themes.  

I have a deconstructed, couple of deconstructed boxes, but I also have some what I call color-based ideas, like American flags, hearts, flowers, did a sunflowers piece, and then a bunch of text-based pieces.  

That's the third idea where, where I started cutting letters out of the packages and spelling things like the Gettysburg Address, the To Be or Not To Be soliloquy from Hamlet, Shakespeare's Hamlet, the number pi. I have this new one, with my own quote, "you are what you create," which is also a clock. And you'll have to come and see it to see what I'm talking about. But you know, this idea of cutting out letters and spelling some message, whether it's your name, or some lyric or phrase, you know... 

You know why you would come to the program? Because it's a lot of fun. It's gonna be a lot of fun.  

I was gonna say, you might have noticed I talk a lot. So when I'm done talking at the beginning of my program, people are so happy. They're like, "He's not talki...", I hear them whispering to each other, "He's not talking anymore."  No.  And then I put on, I bring my CD and tape cassette player. And first of all kids are like, "What's the cassette?" 

You know, it's more, I have forty-year old cassettes that sound amazing. And I play music I like.  I like, you know, I like the Beatles. And I like James Taylor and the Eagles and Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday. I put on the kind of music I like to listen to in my studio, and the next thing, you know, everybody has taken something different from what they've heard and seen. And they're sifting through the packages, and coming up with their own ideas. And many people come up with ideas that they just thought of on their own. 

They're not necessarily trying any of the ideas I've shown them, but some people are, and people are asking each other, "Do you have an H?" You know, "Do you have? Can I use that? I need a little blue. Can I..", you know, "You using that?" And there's a lot of sharing going on. It's really, you know, I step back at that point, I call that part this, that they're in the zone. 

You know, somehow we have a room full of people that have never all gotten to, never will get together again, this is it. This is the only time this particular group of people are going to be all together in one room. If we tried, if we invited everybody to come back, we would never get that same group. It's sort of like this moment, our moment together. It's really special. Think that's what keeps me... I can't believe it. You know, when I step back, and a whole roomful of people I've never met before, suddenly, like, totally engaged in a project. And it's very, you know, it's not like they have to know how to paint or draw.  

You know, I've heard from a lot of people and a lot of art teachers that their students love this project, who refuse to do other projects that everybody else has to do. And I was just at a middle school where, you know, some kids just don't want to do it. I liked the library, because for the most part, everybody who comes, wants to come. I guess some parents say, some parents are like, "You better go, or you can't play video games for the rest of the day."

 

Jill  28:34

We hope not. 

 

Michael  28:35

Yeah. Well, I mean, you gotta have a little bit of that, I guess. But then the next thing you know... Or some kids are dragged along. And then later, the parent says, "They weren't going to do it, and they loved it." Mostly people come to programs like this because they want to, but in school, you definitely have some people who don't want to be there.  

I was just at a middle school for two days. And the art teachers were saying that, that they were amazed that certain students who are generally not engaged, are engaged. I mean, I'm not saying that everybody who comes to this is going to have the greatest time in their life. But I think that they're going to really like it. 

And I keep doing it, because I love it. It's a great show. I mean, I'm really looking forward to driving down to Amelia Courthouse and seeing what it looks like and meeting you and meeting the other staff at the library and meeting people who show up. Generally the kind of people who come to these libraries are the kind of people who like to learn, who are interested in finding out stuff. And it's a great honor for an artist to have anybody want to know what I do, or why.

 

Jill  29:46

There is something very special about creating in community. You know, like it's different when you're by yourself at your table or wherever, and then you come into this whole group of people, and you're communally creating even if you're each working on individual projects, there's something really special that can't be replicated anywhere else.

 

Michael  30:09

For sure. Yes, I also did, I don't know what age group is com..., is invited to this. Is this going to be an all ages thing, or?

 

Jill  30:18

I think primarily targeted at children, but all ages, for sure. Families.

 

Michael  30:23

As long as somebody is old enough to use scissors and glue, they should be able to do it. But even if they were a little younger, even if they're younger, if their parent is working with them, if they're three or four, and they can sit with their parent and point to things they like, and the parent can cut it out, and they could work together on it. That's what happens a lot at the Children's Museum.  I think the older the kids get, the more they can do and the more they can understand and the more ideas they could put into it. 

But I mean, this coming week, I'm doing a program at a Early Learning Center. And I'm working with two- and-three-quarter-year-olds to four-year-olds. Two groups. The two-and-three-quarter to three-and-a-half-year- olds, we're going to write a bubble letter on their paper of the first letter of their name. And their job is going to be to use their glue stick and fill in the letter. And then they're going to have a bunch of pre-cut scraps and they're going to pick them up and decorate their letter. And then the three-and-a-half to four year olds are going to have a tray of letters pre-cut, and they're going to have to find the letters of their name, and then glue them onto their page to spell their name and then decorate it however they want.  

I did a program a few weeks ago in Massachusetts, and it was open to all ages. And they had a... It was a small library in Whitman, Massachusetts. And a good example of why I love this opportunity of traveling around, is like I didn't realize that that was the town where the chocolate chip cookie was invented. That where the original Toll House place was. So I'm like, "Who knew?", you know. So one of the ladies there was making like an homage to the chocolate chip cookie. You know, with stuff about her town, and the year it was invented, and all this stuff. I just thought, you know, now I've learned something different. 

When would I ever come to this town, if I hadn't had this opportunity to bring my program to their library.  It was a conference room with one long table. And there was I think 25 people were at the table. And the youngest person was six. There were a few parents with their kids, there was a teen section. There was like five teenagers that were kind of in their own area. And then there was a section of older ladies, which the oldest was like 83. And I'm just thinking they're all listening to the same talk. And now they're all doing the same project. And there's a six-year-old and an 83-year-old. And how cool is that? 

And I'm playing the Beatles, Rubber Soul. And then I'm playing, you know, an old Elton John album. And, and you know, the old ladies are like, "I love this music," you know, and the kids are like...  You know, I tell them, I love forcing children to listen to The Beatles, you know. It should be required. It should be required learning. It should be like, you know, math, history, music like that. 

Anyway, it's been a whole lot of fun.  You know, it's not just that I'm trying to go around inspiring people, it inspires me to get to go out to different communities and share what I do. There's definitely people that I know very well and love very much who don't ask me what do I do. "Why, what are you working on? Why did you do this?" Looking closely at my work and the details and noticing things, but total strangers, you know, seem to really get into it and care. And you know, it's, as an artist, you know, I put a lot of care and effort and thought into my work. It's my, it's my life's work. And to have anybody look closely at it and care about it and be interested in it is nice.

 

Jill  34:11

And what I think is special about you coming to do school and library programs is you have another job, but you also are a professional artist in the sense that you continually make art and you sometimes sell it, and I think that can be really encouraging for kids who want to be an artist and their parents are like, "No, you have to make money." And like now they can see how maybe you've combined the two of those. 

 

Michael  34:40

Well, the art has definitely taken over. I am spending way more time doing the art than the business these days. But I will be bringing some of my products to the library. I make jam and applesauce with my own characters. I think I sent you this poster and I actually... This is my brand, Sir Real. I have unsweetened applesauce. And I do sell it to stores in the New York area. I have about 70 stores I sell it to. And my plan is to have a brand that supports the arts somehow, that somehow brings people from their everyday life, the grocery store, to either a museum or some sort of a cultural event in their community, or accumulate some money to support art activities at the local school or library, something like that. You know, something like the way Newman's products supports charities. I want to support the arts through this brand and have these characters become like these little spokes-characters for the idea that art's important, you know, and should be part of our lives.  

I mean, I would suggest for anybody who wants to have the full experience, you could go to YouTube and put in "Michael Albert, American pop artist." You'll see a trailer for this documentary I'm working on. It's five minutes long, about how I've been trying to make art and interact with people over the years. And you know, this type of visit is a prime example of that. Also, there's one, "Michael Albert collage Smithsonian." Which, there's an interview that was done by the Smithsonian when I visited with my workshop there about 10 years ago. And it's very well done. I describe how I started doing the cereal- box collages and how it evolved into things like the Gettysburg Address. And that's worth watching.  

I have a Pinterest - pinterest.com/sirrealjuice. S-i-r-r-e-a-l juice, backslash, where I have over 5,000 original things I've made. It's all organized by themes. You know, cereal boxes. I have like 50 boards on there. Some people use Pinterest to collect other images they find and they like, but I use it as a way to organize all my stuff. So it's only my art. I do have a board with art other people have made at my workshops, because it's some things that have been made are really cool.  

I just recently made a new board. Every workshop, maybe there's one person who makes a flag, whether it's an American flag or a flag of another country. So I made a board of all the photos I had of people holding up their flags. And I've found people making Mexican flags, Italian flags, Chinese flags, Ukrainian flags, all different countries and places, but mostly American flags. And it's really cool to see it all together. Because it's like from children to teenagers to adults showing their flag collages that they've made at the workshops. But that's you know, if you really want to see a lot of examples of my work Pinterest, and if you don't remember that address, you could just do Pinterest Michael Albert, it'll come up.

 

Jill  37:58

I don't think the economist has a Pinterest. That would be quite surprising. You know, there's an economist with your same name right? 

 

Michael  38:07

Oh, that guy? Yeah. 

 

Jill  38:08

Like if you look at Michael Albert, the first person to come up is an economist. You have to put "artist" behind you.

 

Michael  38:14

I guess so. There's a lot of Michael Alberts, too. Even my, even my Instagram, which you're, everybody's welcome to, you know, follow is MichaelAlbert4. And if you went to Facebook, Michael Albert, and my picture is the Sir Real Orange Man. He looks nothing like the economist from Boston, Michael Albert.  

I think I've created a great body of work, and certainly a few masterpieces worthy of hanging in a museum. I was saying before that my, I think that in my fantasy, major museums of the world need to have a Michael Albert Cheerio box. That's, that would be one of my goals. And also my scissors and glue bottle, which I've been using for almost 30 years. I've never sharpened my scissors. I'll bring them with me. I'll even let them try them. One of my dreams is that my scissors and glue bottle will be in a glass case at the Smithsonian next to the ruby slippers one day. You know, so I have big dreams for my art. 

You know, I I feel that I've accomplished a lot with my art. And I keep going.  You know, going to little towns, cities, working at a school with 12 people, putting myself out there. You never know who's going to show up. I've definitely had programs where one person showed up. I've also had others where 100 people showed up. But a room with a handful of people who are really interested in being there is a great time. And I guess one of the best things for me is I get to sit there and make art myself. 

I think one of the benefits for people to meet me is that I'm still alive. I can answer their questions.  Teachers love that because almost all the other artists that they teach, either they're not alive anymore, or they're not available to come, you know, to come to their classes. I've been doing Zoom sessions with teachers, especially ones that have no budget whatsoever. Like if they say, "Will you talk to my students. We're doing a project based on your work. You know, unfortunately, we don't have any money to pay for this."  I've been doing them all over the country. I just did one in Israel. I did one in Oregon. I did one in Mississippi. 

But I said, you know, I'm not going to just come on, without them doing a little bit of homework. You know, if they've done the prep, that's great, because they could show me what they've made and tell me about it. But I want them to watch these few videos. Take a look at my website. Google "Michael Albert, pop artist" and read some articles, and then have a couple of questions for me. And I'll talk, I'll spend 45 minutes of my time for free. But, let them have thought about this in advance. Want to be there. And asked me a couple of questions and go through the questions with the teacher and pick five or six. I don't want to hear the same question over, you know, over and over again. And you know, and I'm happy to do it. I'm honored to do that. And I've been having these amazing experiences like that. And they always say, you know, most of the artists, all of the artists that they teach are dead.

 

Jill  41:26

Well, we are glad you are coming. And you are alive and coming.

 

Michael  41:31

I think I'm alive! I just have to make it another, what is today? The eighth? I just have to make it another 14, 15 days.

 

Jill  41:41

We'll be there. We've been advertising a lot. So hopefully we'll get a lot of people turning out.

 

Michael  41:46

I think so. I think so. Well, I appreciate this and it's been great chatting with you.

 

Jill  41:53

Listeners, if you are intrigued by what Michael might be creating, you can find him on michaelalbert.com. You can also find him on his Pinterest site, as he suggested. And, if you are listening to this episode before April 23, 2022 at 10 a.m. That's a Saturday. Then come out and join us and see or meet Michael for himself and create some art with him. If this is after April 23, 2022, then be inspired. If you create some art because of this episode, let the library know at connections@hamnerlibrary.org. 

Until next time, keep learning

Episode Introduction
Michael's Introduction
Michael Albert's Book, Art Form, and Education Tours
Themes in Michael's Art
How Michael Starting Cutting Up Cereal Boxes
The Evolution of Michael's Art, Monet, and Series
Cheerio Boxes
Why Come to a Workshop?
Art and Business
Michael is a Living Artist Who Does School Zoom Visits
Conclusion