Laurence Gartel : The World of Art & Palm Beach SuperCars

West Palm Beach, FL – January 15, 2017

by Jennifer Carrera Turner

It was the seventh season of SuperCar Week in West Palm Beach, FL. A nine day event filled with the most unimaginable activities that any auto enthusiast both the average Joe and the VIP could appreciate. Most events were free to the general public, and the VIP enjoyed some really exclusive privileges that makes the upgrade worthwhile. If you are not a participator, then you can be a dreamer. Each event that is hosted, you surround yourself with the most incredible machines on earth, the most beautiful bodies, the most extreme engines and the ambiance of speed that one can ever have imagined!

This event is the annual production of Neil London, Tim Byrd, Thomas Clarke, and Gina Palmer and has been an incredible value to our local community, drawing crowds of well over 120,000 in attendance. On the last day of this sequence of events it closes with the largest SuperCar show in all of Florida and perhaps even the United States and includes an exclusive VIP party amidst it all.

The Sunday show boasts over 400 supercars – the most expensive and significant automobiles in the world ranging from makers such as: Ferrari, Audi, Maserati, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Bentley, BMW, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Land Rover, Bugatti, McLaren, Pagani and many more including new and classic American models. SuperCar Week focuses on sharing an exclusive experience with the public and an appreciation of automotive excellence, design and technology.

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Now that we have the background of this amazing event presented, I can now tell you that someone who really stands out in this exclusive crowd is the one, Laurence Gartel, a world renowned American Artist and “pioneer of digital art” showcasing one of his elaborately designed Art Cars. I met Laurence a few years ago at a Lamborghini Palm Beach cars and coffee event. At first glance, you think “young Jerry Garcia” and he is every bit the most intriguing, down-to-earth, and most serious, passionate artist you will ever meet.

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His extensive and ever-climbing career has spanned throughout decades having worked with Andy Warhol, Hans Grodo Frabel, and an eclectic mix of famous music artists including Blondie, The Sex Pistols, Kiss, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and many more.

“He was the official artist of the 57th Annual Grammy Awards”.  

Gartel has exhibited in an extensive list of high-end museums including the Museum of Modern Art and other galleries that house his permanent collections for example, National Museum of American History.

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Gartel is the first artist commissioned by Tesla Motors during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2010, after having dedicated many years to creating his stylistic graphically designed “Art Cars”. He has produced countless different Art Cars of many high-end makes including a Renntech Mercedes SL 65 V-12 Bi-turbo, which was unveiled at Fisher Island, FL during Art Basel Miami Beach, 2014 and being shown at ArtPalmBeach 2017.

On Sunday, Gartel agreed to answer my interview questions which are posted below. My questions are based on not only his experience with participating in SuperCar Week over the years, but also his experiences with inspiration and of being an artist. I appreciate the time he took in answering these questions and it is an absolute honor to be able to share this with the world.

 

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Laurence Gartel at ArtPalmBeach 2017 (Below: Being interviewed by Tim Byrd)

 

Even as he prepared to answer these questions for me after that Sunday, he was participating in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Monday in Downtown West Palm Beach:

“No moss grows under my feet as I participated in the Martin Luther King Parade in Miami. I was driving 4MPH for 4Hours. Talk about an “Endurance Rally.” However, I put a smile on over 300,000 faces. And that is a good thing. We must stop poverty in America. While we “oogle” over million dollar cars there are people starving every day. Children going hungry so my perspective in answering questions may be a little different than normal. Having said that, I will do so to the best of my ability.”                  -Laurence Gartel, January 16, 2017

Gartel Interview Q & A:

1.    How many years have you participated in SuperCar Week?

 I have been participating from the inception of the event. That means when Neil London took over because someone else had the show before Neil. Neil turned it into a FREE mega-event for everyone to enjoy. 

 2.    What is your opinion on the outcome and progress of SuperCar Week 2017?

 SuperCar has turned into the greatest event in all over South Florida. Fun, Friendly, Easy, Joyous, and something for everyone. 

 3.    What additions would you like to see in the 2018 SuperCar Week?

 I would like to see more dealers participating. One year Ferrari was in, one year they were out. I’d like to see new car dealerships roll out some of their latest vehicles. Schumacher has been in for several years. I think that’s great. Neil London tries to cover every aspect from Electric Vehicles to SuperCars. It would be nice if Mr. Dezer brought out some of his fine cars from his collection as well. The more the better because cars are a huge part of our modern and contemporary culture. 

 4.    Whose work do you relate to most? Who or what inspires you?

 When you are an original, I’m not sure who’s work you relate to. I can say, if you asked me whose work do I admire, I can say: Michelangelo, DaVinci, Correvaggio, Bernini. I have a real appreciation for “perfection.” I have been asked to leave the Ufizzi Museum on a number of occasions by security because I sat in front of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” for hours until closing time. I am obsessed with “ultimate beauty.” Seeing Bernini’s sculpture “Apollo and Daphne” in person, is a life changing experience. 

 5. Do you enjoy collaboration work?

 On occasion. I did a collaboration last year with Hisachika Takahashi who was Robert Rauschenberg’s assistant for decades. I was up in Vermont where I was commissioned to create a 40th Anniversary work for Catamount Arts. Takahashi lived across the street and we had several talks about Bob. I had two exhibitions at Rauschenberg’s gallery at Edison College in Ft Myers. I knew Bob from the 70’s when he was working with Merce Cunningham. Takahashi remembered me as a young Artist so it was very moving to collaborate. 

 6. How has your practice changed over time?

 My practice has always been in a state of transition. Materials change, and thus so does technique. Creating 3-D sculptures with 3-D printers along with drawing with plastic that melts is also a new development. In creating Art Cars the vinyl material has changed as well. Making it more pliable and flexible. As far as the Art is concerned – Art changes depending on one’s travels and how it emotionally impacts you. 

 7. Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?

 FABULOUS. – Because everything I do is unsuspected. You will never know what I will do next. It is surprising and over the top. Nothing is ever predictable. 

 8. How is your personality reflected in your work?

My work IS my personality. Whether it be for the Grammy Awards or if it is for Forbes Magazine, Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, or the Oslo Motor Show the Art is outrageous and has a live energy to it. “I am looking forward to waking people up, not putting them to sleep.” 

 9. How do you get inspired creatively with a new assignment?

 My talent is G-D given. That means that there is a wealth of creativity attached to each project. Depending on what it is, the project itself “inspires”. For instance, if it is a car, the lines and shape of the car have a lot to do with how the overall outcome will be. 

 10.  What do you dislike about the art world?

 I dismiss the pre-determined Art world. Any great Artist of any century dismissed the rules and created his own visual language. If I were to bitch and moan about the Art world I would say I hate the Nepotism. It is everywhere. However, it is a BIG world and we can by-pass those that keep the doors closed to others outside of their inner circle. 

 11. Name something you love, and why?

 LOVE? My significant other. My children. 

 12. What was it like designing for the Grammy’s? Was it a life changing experience?

 It surely was a highlight. I enjoyed being part of the festivities, the red carpet, the show, all the protocol and everything associated with it in Los Angeles. My collectors shipped the Renntech Mercedes that I designed for them for me to drive during my stay there. It was a most generous and kind thing to do. 

 13. What is your dream project?

 I have to think it up. Maybe painting a building. I’ve actually done everything I have wanted to do in life. ABSOLUT GARTEL for Absolut Vodka was a great triumph. To see my ad on the back of 100-million magazines was definitely a thrill. Especially when it was created with one of the first still-video cameras and Photoshop 2.0. Nobody ever saw anything like it before. Completely original. My cover of FORBES was amazing as well two years prior in 1989. My whole history is really interesting. Lots of firsts. Sometimes going backwards is just as exciting as going forward. Especially when that technology has come and gone and people have not seen it. 

 14. Where is your newest exhibition and what does it focus upon?

 My new museum exhibition in Italy is very exciting: “WARHOL vs GARTEL” HYP POP opened in Spoleto 22nd December 2016 and will run through 2nd April 2017. The show examines the similarities between my work and Warhol. I taught Andy how to use the Amiga Computer in 1985 when he was commissioned to produce the album cover for Debbie Harry. After that I took Digital Art into the Fine Art World interjecting it into the stratosphere. 

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 (Images of Warhol vs. Gartel courtesy of Laurence Gartel.)

Photo Gallery of SuperCar Week 2017:

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