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Chuck Close and AOL Celebrate New Partnership

NEW YORK— Last night AOL — remember them? — threw an artist-and-model-studded event at the New Museum to announce the launch of a new partnership with the artist Chuck Close, who will be spearheading the online company's new "Project on Creativity," part of a rebranding effort to link the company with the seven livelies (rather than, say, dial-up modems). The party drew an eclectic array of downtown staples to the Bowery art institution, including Kate Spade, Will Cotton, Glenn O'Brien, "Work of Art" equalizer Bill Powers, and the Box's Simon Hammerstein, who munched on corn dogs, assorted canapes, and AOL-themed chewing gum on the museum's terrace. On the walls were displayed several large-scale portraits Close created for the new online partnership, which were meant to give a sense of the "typical AOL user," according to one publicist at the event. The artworks, some in black and white, some in color, depicted the Dalai Lama, the supreme figure in Tibetan Buddhism; Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segue, the insulin pump, and Close's state-of-the-art mechanized wheelchair that allows him extraordinary flexibility to paint; the MacArthur "genius grant"-winner Kara Walker; Oscar-winning film director Gus Van Sant; and the actress Claire Danes. Typical AOL users, to be sure. But the hearts of both Close and AOL are certainly in the right place. As a part of the "Project on Creativity," for which the artist will produce "exclusive online content" according to press materials, the online company will fund a "25 For 25" scholarship program that will give $25,000 grants to 25 young creatives, and a conference to take place in New York later this year on the intersections of art and technology.
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