Al Gold was an Atlantic City fixture for decades while he was alive, as the city's chief photographer and a constant presence at events around town. Now his daughter hopes to make him a local tradition decades after he died.
Vicki Gold Levi has scheduled the second annual Al Gold Memorial Lecture for Wednesday at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's Campus Center Theater. Gold Levi says she expects to hit a wide range of topics in the future of the free series, which is co-sponsored by Stock-ton's School of Arts & Humanities - "It has to be in field of art, but that can be interpreted loosely," she says.
The featured speaker for this year is Lance Fung, the curator of the Artlantic art-parks project in Atlantic City and more outdoor art displays around the world. But before she introduces Fung, who came to Atlantic City in 2012, Gold Levi plans to do a little show-and-tell about her dad, who shot the first Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City in 1921.
"I start the program off with a small slide show of my dad's work. I'm not doing this just because he's my dad, but because he's an extraordinary photographer," says Gold Levi, who is mainly known locally as an Atlantic City historian and author, but in her professional life is a New York-based photography editor. "I kind of know what a good picture is - and he took a good picture."
Her dad died in 1964, at age 62, but Gold Levi knows his mark can still be found around his hometown almost 50 years later. She says people around the country saw an Al Gold Atlantic City picture on TV in the opening of Miss America's recent return to its local roots. Another picture just went up in the Marketplace section at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, and she can tick off more places to spot Atlantic City as her father captured it.
"You can see it in different venues around town," she said. "It's historical, it's also artful and it's still relevant."
Speaking of art, Gold Levi says an old Atlantic City hand like her dad would have no trouble seeing the town as a venue for fine-art exhibits, which the Atlantic City Alliance and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority are promoting with their Artlantic project. The agencies started last year creating a series of various-sized art parks in the city, and hired Fung as curator.
Fung, Wednesday's main speaker, is a California native who owns a gallery in New York and has been a curator for outdoor art installations from San Francisco to South Korea to Italy to Egypt to Lapland.
He said he plans a 40-minute talk on "how a person can enter the international art world and make a contribution to it. ... It just takes a bit of luck, talent, perseverance, and most importantly, passion."
But Fung also will talk about his work in Atlantic City, and Gold Levi looks forward to hearing what he has to say. One thing she knows, though, is art has a history in her hometown.
"In the 1920s, when (Boardwalk) Hall opened up, you had one of most incredible art galleries in the world in the hall," she said. "And the hotels had magnificent paintings in their lobbies."
She knows more history too, including this: If it happened in Atlantic City, there's a good chance Al Gold got pictures of it.
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If You Go
The annual Al Gold Memorial Lecture starts 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's Campus Center Theater, off Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway Township. The event is free. For more details, call 609-652-4214 or see stockton.edu/artgallery