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ArtsWestchester Displays White Plains Man's Work

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. --  The thought of his Frosted Flakes box disintegrating in a landfill inspired Michael Albert to replace the bad photographs and junk mail he usually mined for collage materials with Tony the Tiger and royal blue cardboard back in 1996.

Albert , 45 of White Plains, said he was so pleased with his first “cubist pop art portrait” that he patched together a whole “cerealism” series of popular cereal box characters.

“I had this feeling about a beautiful Frosted Flake box that it’s just so wrong to crush it and have it end up in a landfall after only eating 10 bowls of cereal. So I started making art out of it,” he said. “For a few years I did pretty much nothing but that. It was interesting to me that even though it was all mixed up and chopped up you could instantly recognize the image.”

Collages of Cheerios, Raisin Bran and Cocoa Puffs were unveiled at the ArtsWestchester’s “Piecing it Together” gallery opening Friday evening. Albert has seven original pieces on display beside work from seven other Westchester-based collage artists.

Stopping by the Mamaroneck Avenue exhibit will give viewers the opportunity to see the “quirks” and “small imperfections” in the original portraits not shown on the prints displayed at restaurants around Westchester. Albert also has a Macbeth-inspired piece, a Constitutional preamble collage and a “Last Breakfast” work that replaces the 12 disciples in traditional “the last supper” scenes with food label characters.

“People recognize these things. Captain Crunch is on there and Toucan Sam and all the famous characters. So on one level it's fun to just look at every little piece and recognize where it’s from. The next thing you know they’re reading messages like ‘do the right thing’ and ‘love thy neighbor,” Albert said of 21 phrases included in the collage after he imagined Jesus Christ at the table.

Albert began drawing while taking breaks from his business studies at New York University. Though he still “doodles” Albert says collage has captivated him.

The business degree did come in handy when Albert got involved in the food business after graduating. Eventually, he launched Sir Real , a juice company that includes Albert’s artwork on its packaging. The all-natural and organic juices are sold at Fairway, Whole Foods and several independent stores.

“Andy Warhol took brands that already existed and painted versions of them. Artists today take brand packages and appropriate brand images all over the place, but I don’t know of any actual artists that created one of them," he said. "So that’s one of my main goals.”

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