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Former Queens resident selected to create official artwork for Grammys

Laurence Gartel (c) The Recording Academy 2014 / Photos courtesy of Laurence Gartel

The top names in the music industry won’t be the only ones shining during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. One former Queens resident has been given the honor to create the official artwork for “music’s biggest night.”

Laurence Gartel, who has been called the “father of digital art” and spent 19 years of his early life living at the North Shore Towers in Floral Park, has created a version of the iconic Grammy figurine that will be used on the ceremony’s program book, tickets, poster and other promotional materials.

The life-sized statuette is wrapped in “psychedelic” imagery known to be Gartel’s style using vinyl, glitter and prismatic materials.

“It’s pretty darn amazing,” Gartel said about how it felt to be chosen as the official artist for the award ceremony. “I’m always looking to top myself and this certainly tops it. It feels great.”

Gartel’s first interaction with digital art came in 1975 when he met Nam June Paik, considered to be the founder of video art, at Media Study/Buffalo in upstate New York.

Although his artistic career began when he was nine at the Pels School of Art, working side to side with Paik was what started Gartel’s electronic career.

“That was sort of the birth of it all,” he said. “Electronic images could take over a painting on the wall.”

Gartel began working on computers the size of rooms, before the invention of personal computers, and started a technique prior to any software being created for painting and photo manipulation.

“You just go up to a machine and just start manipulating things and get images you couldn’t get otherwise,” Gartel said. “When you’re creating things that no one has seen before, that’s amazing.”

Since then his colorful images and pioneering designs have been used in advertising campaigns such as one for Absolut Vodka in 1991, which ran for 10 years. He has also worked alongside musicians such as Sid Vicious and the Ramones, and created artwork for artists such as Justin Timberlake.

One of his collaborative pieces includes partnering with Glen Greenberg of Elmont Glass Atelier for “art on glass” works that premiered at Art Hamptons.

His other individual pieces have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, and in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

In the past few years, Gartel has also taken his artwork and created “art cars,” donning his colorful designs on vehicles such as a Mercedes and Rolls Royce. He was also featured in the 113th Annual New York International Auto Show in April.

With having finished the artwork for the Grammys, which is set to air Feb. 8, Gartel said he continues to move ahead with new ventures and creating unique pieces.

“I’m looking forward to the future,” Gartel said.

For more information, visit www.gartelart.com.

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