Album Cover News Recap – June 2014

Album Cover News Recap – June, 2014

Summer’s here, and as if in answer to that yearly question “what am I going to do with my free time this Summer?”, a new batch of album cover-related exhibitions and auctions launched in June and look to continue throughout the rest of the season. I’m also happy to have been able to offer fans of art and music some new insights into “the making of” great album art via interviews and features about creating stimulating packaging for both classic and emerging musical acts. Highlights of this past month’s coverage include: information on a variety of exhibitions (both in the U.S. and overseas), including major shows by artists including Brian Griffin and Joe Garnett; an interview with Grammy Award-nominated designer/photographer Glen Wexler; info on the nominees and winners of this year’s Independent Music Awards (IMAs) in the album packaging categories; several new books and fine art print editions of rock and album cover photography and a number of new biographies of some of the design talent that has been responsible for many of your favorite album art images. As we always like to say (and show you), there’s always something new to see in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site

June 30th – 1) The works of the very-talented designer Rex Ray (you’ll know him from his cool album cover for David Bowie’s Reality) are featured in a show now on display at the Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico titled “Biomorphed”. The show’s focus is on how the natural world influences designs, and you’ll enjoy browsing thru Rex’s colorful abstracts, alongside those of artists Shawn Smith and Josh Garber – more info on the gallery site at http://www.artnet.com/galleries/turner-carroll-gallery/biomorphed-shawn-smith-rex-ray-and/

2) Fans of the rock band Kansas – a group that has always given fans a selection of fantastic artwork to go along with their progressive music – will enjoy learning more about the images that accompanied many of the band’s best-loved records from the perspective of drummer Phil Ehart. Interviewed for Goldmine Magazine, Phil gives us the stories about inspirations for covers done by artists including Dave McMacken, Peter Lloyd, Tom Drennon, Bruce Wolfe and many others – http://www.goldminemag.com/article/phil-ehart-shares-behind-paintbrush-stories-kansas-album-art

3) I must admit that, due to the circumstance that I grew up 4500 miles from the U.K., I was rarely shown the works of many bands that either were not released in the US or were sold at more-esoteric retailers (and not EJ Korvettes, where I did most of my record shopping in my youth). For example, I was not aware of the album cover works of artist Steve Hardstaff until I read writer Tony Dewhurst’s story about his appearance at a fair/expo in Lancashire this past weekend. As it turns out, Dewhurst has done covers for musical acts including The Strawbs and Half Man Half Biscuit (!!) and posters/other graphics for The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and many others. I’ll now do some digging on this talented individual and will report back with the whole story. In the meantime, read Dewhurst’s story on the Lancashire Telegraph web site – http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/leisure/whats_on/11303770.Artist_to_the_stars_Steve_Hardstaff_hosts_talk_and_gig/

June 27th  – As part of a recent contest held by the people behind the Design Crowd site (a site that hooks up graphic artists with clients looking for design help), participants were asked to create their own, re-realized versions of classic album art, and over 80 people submitted their work for consideration, with the winner being GusDesign‘s colorful version of U2’s Pop record. Other nice remakes were done of records by Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana and many others. If you’d like to see more and learn more about this endeavor, please read Andrew Lasane’s article on the Complex. com web site –http://www.complex.com/art-design/2014/06/designers-recreate-iconic-album-covers-for-a-designcrowd-photoshop-contest

June 26th – 1) I’ve been hard at work on bios this week and have a number of new ones up for your viewing pleasure. Included are notables such as Tim Bryant, Greg Burke, Steve Byram, John Byrne, Brian Cannon, Michael Carney and John Casado. All have impressive portfolios, some with multiple Grammy wins, and I was floored when I found out that one of them was responsible for the logo for the first Apple Macintosh computer in 1984 (guess who?). You’ll find them all on this page –https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-artist-biographies-a-c/ – some scrolling required!

2) Found this fine video interview with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page on the Blabbermouth site about the making – and re-making – of Led Zeppelin 1, which has now come out in some very fancy packaging, including one set that includes a limited-edition print of the record’s history-making (or was it history-taking?) zeppelin cover. Delivered to you with a whole lotta love, of course –http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/jimmy-page-talks-to-absolute-radio-about-making-of-led-zeppelin-i-video/

June 25th – Well, the results are in, and some folks are going home with expensive treasures to show off to their friends! At yesterday’s “Rock & Roll History: Presley to Punk” auction at Sotheby’s, over $4 million was spent, including the following album cover-related items:

1) Joel Brodsky’s photo of Jim Morrison – est. $6-9K, sold for $13,750 (inc. buyer’s premium);

2) Bob Seidemann’s photo for the cover of Blind Faith – est. $2-3K, sold for an impressive $17,500;

3) A print of the cover for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, signed by Jagger, Richards and Watts – est. $4-6K, sold for $13, 750;

4) Two Joni Mitchell art images sold – a) a self-portrait with an $8-12K est sold for $10K, b) a drawing of Crosby, Stills & Nash with a $5-7K est sold for $6250

Some bargains were also had, such as an Axis: Bold As Love lenticular print selling for $2500, a Gered Mankowitz portrait of Hendrix selling for $8750 ($8-12K est) and a Mick Rock print of his photo for the cover of Iggy Pop’s Raw Power album selling for it’s $5K starting price.

Of course, the big items for the day were the two Bob Dylan working manuscripts for the songs “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and “Like A Rolling Stone”, which both sold for well above their auction estimates, with some lucky fans paying $485K for the “Hard Rain” item and $2.045 million for “Like A Rolling Stone”.

Congratulations to all the winners – enjoy your new purchases!

To download a list of all the final prices achieved at this auction, visit the Sotheby’s site at http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/results.results.sale.pdf/2014/rock-roll-history-presley-to-punk-n09160.pdf

UpdateBusiness Insider Magazine reporter Harrison Jacobs led a team that was given advance and post-auction access to the aforementioned Sotheby’s auction and detailed their visits in an interesting and photo-packed article published on the 27th. If you’ve ever wondered what went in to putting together and then staging a formal art/memorabilia auction – from gallery prep to catering to creating catalogs for visitors and bidders (both in-person and online) – this article gives you a nice pictorial overview – http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-sothebys-rock-and-roll-auction-2014-6?op=1

June 24th – 1) While this exhibit ended its run on June 29th, you can still follow up to learn more about the works that were on display… the West London Art Factory staged a “pop-up” show at The Muse on Portobello Road that included both a nice series of prints for sale and – the thing that caught my eye – a selection of custom-painted “Marlow Art Guitars” that feature impressive works of art – many music-themed, as you might figure – by a number of today”s leading young artists. These guitars were created and are sold to support the Teenage Cancer Trust, who receive a portion of the proceeds from sales of these one-of-a-kind instruments. There’s a link to the online catalog on the WLAF site, so be sure to take a moment online to see the full range of their offer –http://www.westlondonartfactory.com/

2) While he certainly doesn’t need any help from me, publicity-wise, I would like to direct Pop Art fans to the upcoming full-bore exhibition of artist Jeff Koons‘ work that will be on display at the Whitney Museum of Art in NYC. The show, titled “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective”, opens on June 27th and is said to be the largest collection of his works ever assembled – it nearly fills the entire museum! You’ll know Mr. Koons’ work from the grand sculptures he’s done featuring Popeye, Michael Jackson (and Bubbles the Chimp) and Lady Gaga (as seen on the cover of her latest album). The exhibition will be up until October 19th. For more information, please read AP writer Ula Ilnytsky’s article on the Lake County Record-Bee site – http://www.record-bee.com/sports/ci_26022691/jeff-koons-whimsy-takes-over-nyc-museum

June 23rd – Two auctions took place this week with a lot of album cover-related items up for bid:

1) At Sotheby’s “Rock & Roll History: Presley to Punk” auction in NYC on June 24th, you were able to bid for items including a printer’s proof set used to make Beggar’s Banquet for the Rolling Stones (art/photo by Wilkes and Feinstein); a Joel Brodsky print of Jim Morrison (est. $6-9K); a Gered Mankowitz print of Jimi Hendrix (est. $8-12K); a Hendrix Axis: Bold As Love lenticular (!! – est $2-3K); Bob Gruen’s iconic John LennonNYC print (est $4-6K) and more by Mick Rock, Joni Mitchell, Jeff Koons and John Van Hamersveld. More at http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/rock-roll-history-presley-to-punk-n09160.html. Results were reported in a subsequent article, above.

2) On Wednesday, Bonham’s staged an Entertainment Memorabilia auction in London where participants were invited to bid on items including a print of the cover for Led Zeppelin 4, signed by Page, opening at $1K: The Clash’s London Calling photos and a rare counter display, both by Pennie Smith, starting at $850; a set of photos by Bob Gruen taken during the session for John & Yoko’s Walls & Bridges, starting at $1700; and a custom, multi-platinum commemorative plaque featuring many album covers that was given to Robert Plant, with an opening bid of $8400. See the entire offering at http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21947/

Hope everyone got all that they wished for!

June 20th – Just posted a new interview I just finished with veteran photographer/designer Glen Wexler about his work on Heaven & Earth’s 2013 release titled Dig. With Glen’s impressive portfolio that includes album cover-related work for Rush, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan and many others, it was insightful to learn more about his process and, in particular, how this particular cover came as the result of 5+ years of developing a particular idea, just waiting for the right application. Glen was kind enough to provide me with some images of his work-in-progress on that – and other – record packages, so you’ll see some great examples of how great album cover art develops from concept into the finished product. https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/interview-with-glen-wexler-heaven-and-earth-dig-album-cover/

June 17th – There’s a series of videos I stumbled upon that I wanted to point you to. The Tate Museum and Le Meridien Hotels teamed up to produce a series called “Unlock Art” that includes 8 short films featuring actors, comedians and other presenters taking the viewer thru one aspect of the fine art world. I was particularly impressed with the one hosted by actor Alan Cumming titled “On Pop Art” as it included highlights of the works by three artists that also made big impressions on the album cover art world – Andy Warhol, Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton. Here’s the link to that particular video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHBm8_ooPVo

To learn more about the entire Unlock Art series, visit their site at http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/unlock-art#open288655 (I really enjoyed the short titled “On Shopping for Art” hosted by Comedian Sally Phillips…

June 16th – New info on a Joe Garnett album art exhibition and the release of a very nice fine art print:

1) Opened June 20th at the Fine Arts Gallery in the City of Lubbock, TX’s Buddy Holly Center is a career retrospective featuring the work of famed album cover artist Joe Garnett. Titled “Mavericks, Misfits, & Musicians: The Art of Joe Garnett“, the show will include an impressive selection of prints, paintings, etc. from Joe’s portfolio. You’ll know his work from the images her created for The Doors, Captain Beyond, Alice Cooper and others, as well as the theatrical posters he produced for movies including Diner, Hooper and Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The show is on until August 10 – more info on Joe is available on his site – http://joegarnett.myshopify.com/pages/about-us and info on the exhibition can be found at http://www.mylubbock.us/departmental-websites/departments/buddy-holly-center/fine-arts-gallery

2) The folks at St. Paul’s Gallery in the UK have just released a new fine art print of one of the most-talked-about album covers of the 1980s – Andie Airfix‘s fantastic image for Def Leppard’s Hysteria. With world-wide sales of over 20 million copies, its an album you’ll find in many a record collection, but only 195 will be able to own this signed print – more info on their site at http://www.stpaulsgallery.com/prodtype.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=487&numRecordPosition=1 

Why not pour some sugar on your album art collection?

June 13th – two “tastemaker” online magazines put forth their album art-related collections:

1) Mari Andrew of Paste Magazine has published an illustrated article titled “25 Fashionable Moments in Album Cover Art“, a list that features, as you’d figure, some very stylish works with folks wearing nice clothes, interesting hair styles and backdrops that reflect the art and fashion of the day. While there’s not much commentary, the gallery is a good one, spanning the past 40 years or so in pop music – http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/06/fashionable-moments-in-album-cover-art.html

2) The “Green Label Sound” site (sponsored by Mountain Dew and others) has organized a collection they call “The Most Iconic Hip-Hop Cover Art of All Time” and, while not really explaining what criteria were used to make these selections (besides “you only get one chance at a first impression”), the 15 covers included in the collection are pretty iconic, featuring Kanye, GZA, Outkast, DMX, Notorious BIG and others.

Warning – this site has a LOT of pop-ups & distractions, unfortunately…http://green-label.com/sound/iconic-hip-hop-cover-art-time/

June 10th – 1) Here’s another example of album cover art-inspired creativity – musician/artist Wesley Stace (who’s performed using the stage name John Wesley Harding) has come up with his own take on classic album covers, using emoji art to recreate 70 records, from Help! and Sgt Peppers by The Beatles to Animals and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and more-recent records by Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction and many more. Stace admits upfront that he’s not a trained graphic artist, but looking at what he’s done thus far, he’s obviously got a keen eye for composition. You can see an introduction to his work on this article on the Fast Company site by Joe Berkowitz and the rest on Stace’s Twitter feed – http://www.fastcocreate.com/3031482/a-musician-recreates-classic-album-covers-in-emoji

2) Photographer Piper Ferguson has just posted a number of shots she took for the new release by the Afghan Whigs on Subpop Records…Do To The Beast is the band’s first release in 16 years, and her photo session at the Paramour Mansion in Silver Lake, CA shows Mr. Dulli and the band in fine form – http://www.piperferguson.com/Afghan-Whigs-Subpop

June 9th – What a world, what a world:

1) While most music fans have considered the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love – with artwork by David King/Roger Law, based on a photo of the band by Karl Ferris – a psychedelic era masterpiece, the censors in Malaysia have decided to curtail the sales of this record, 47 years after its release, based on what they’re calling “religious sensitivity”. You may recall that the cover features a drawing of a Hindu deity and now, after all these years (and millions of copies sold), it’s too much for some folks to handle. Perhaps it is because they don’t want a “guitar god” competing with an “official” one? This one deserves a “pul-eeze!”, don’t you think? More as reported in the Hennemusic site – http://www.hennemusic.com/2014/06/jimi-hendrix-album-banned-in-malaysia.html

2) Speaking of inspiration (of the album cover art kind) – here’s a nice article/interview with a musician who very much appreciates what visual imagery accompanies his music…While he understands that much of today’s music is delivered digitally (and, therefore, often without a proper album cover image), Nick Mulvey has collaborated with his designer (Stuart Hardie) quite closely on all of the designs for his new album (titled First Mind) and related singles. In the interview on the Clash Music site, Nick shows a great sensitivity to the process of visualizing his music for fans old and new (there’s a nice video accompanying the article as well that dives into the thinking that went into his album graphics – well worth the watch) – http://www.clashmusic.com/features/write-on-nick-mulvey

June 6th – 1) Very nice retrospective article on the Dangerous Minds site about artist (and playwright) John “Patrick” Byrne, who created a number of whimsical paintings for record covers for Gerry Rafferty, Donovan, Stealer’s Wheel and an alt cover for The Beatles’ White Album (later used on their 1980 Ballads compilation). Quite the multi-talented guy, so if you’re unfamiliar with his artwork, this is definitely worth the look –http://dangerousminds.net/comments/the_fabulous_album_cover_art_of_playwright_john_patrick_byrne

2) Author/cyber-guru Bob Cherry – who’s Cybergrass site is one of the original entertainment sites on the web – recently penned an article about album cover art, presenting it as an integral part of a complete music experience and offering up some suggestions on what a designer should include in creating a “proper” record cover. I’m hoping to find out a bit more about Bob’s motivations behind this article (and a bit more about his personal collection) but, in the meantime, I wanted to share his words of wisdom with you, via the link –http://www.cybergrass.com/node/3705

3) Finally – an apology for a mental lapse – in a posting earlier this week, I referenced Andy Warhol‘s famous cover for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and, in what must only have been the result of a “senior moment”, I noted that it featured his “banana cover” which, any album cover fan worth his salt will tell you, was NOT the cover for Sticky Fingers, which did in fact display another iconic image, that of the leather pants with the working (at least on early copies) zipper. I do apologize and promise to work hard to redeem myself going forward. Thanks for your patience and enjoy your weekend. MG

June 4th – The 2014 Fotofestiwal in Lodz, Poland – one of the world’s premiere photography exhibitions – was even more impressive this year with the inclusion of an exhibition of ACHOF inductee Brian Griffin‘s work. Titled “DisCover Photography”, the exhibit included over 60 of Brian’s photos, including covers for Iggy Pop, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and Depeche Mode, among others (according to Brian, Poland is the home of the world’s most-active Depeche Mode fan base), and this is the festival’s first music-centric exhibition, so it’s quite the honor for Mr. Griffin.

The Grand Opening party took place on Saturday, June 7th at 8PM (with Brian will be in attendance) and the show ran thru June 15th – for more info, please follow the link – http://www.fotofestiwal.com/2014/en/exhibitions/special-exhibitions/brian-griffin/

June 3rd

After months of deliberations, the distinguished judging panelists for the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards have completed their ratings for this year’s program. Here’s a recap of the Nominees and Winners in the Album Art categories – quite the grouping of talent, I’d say….:

Album Art / Photography Nominees

Angie Pickman, KS, USA – Maria the Mexican – Moon Colored Jade

Kathryn Lynn Shearman / Kazoo Studios, CA, USA – Tamar Haviv – You and Me Without Pajamas (“Lost At Sea”)

Mike Wohlberg / tFk! Illustration, PA, USA – Death Valley High – Positive Euth

Nick Kiefer, NJ, USA – Rick Barry – Curses, Maledictions and Harsh Reiterations

Pavel Postovoit, Jerusalem, Israel – Adaam James Levin-Areddy – You’re Like Bad TV

And the winner is – Angie Pickman of Lawrence, KS, USA for her work on Maria the Mexican’s Moon Colored Jade. Angie is a full-time “cut paper artist” living in Lawrence, Kansas and is known in local art circles as “The Rural Pearl”. You can see more of Angie’s work on her site at http://ruralpearl.com/blog/?page_id=344

Album Packaging Nominees

Cheng-dao Chou & Sung-lan Chen / 9d Visual Creation, CA, USA – Tsung-pei Fan – Longing for the Unforgettable Spring Breeze

Hui-chen Huang & Szu-wei Cheng / Keystone Design Co., Taiwan – Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe & Daniel Ho – To & From the Heart

Pablo Bernasconi, Alain Gomez & Carolina Musto, Venezuela – Famasloop – La Quema (Box)

Pearl Rachinsky & Corin Raymond, ON, Canada – Corin Raymond and The Sundowners – Paper Nickels

Sunday Morning, NY, USA – Luiz Ebert and Fidel Fidel Cuéllar – Audiograp

and the winner in this category is – Hui-chen Huang & Szu-wei Cheng of Keystone Design Co., in Taiwan for their work on Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe & Daniel Ho – To & From the Heart . The team at Keystone Design was nominated twice in 2013 for their work for Wind Music. To see more of their portfolio, visit their Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/keystonedesign

Congratulations to the Winners on a job well-done!

This year’s judging panel includes a wide range of talent in the areas of music production (songwriters, musicians, engineers, etc.), talent management, venue booking and management, tour production and coordination and music journalism. Read more about the members of this esteemed panel via the link –http://www.independentmusicawards.com/ima/judges/13th-annual-ima-judges/

Visitors in the NYC area were invited to join IMA staffers at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium on Saturday, June 7th at 11am for a “Meet The Artist” showcase featuring multiple IMA nominee Elizabeth Mitchell. Co-presented by The IMAs and Lincoln Center, this event was another in their ongoing collaboration with Lincoln Center. More info on this event is available at http://atrium.lincolncenter.org/index.php/2014-elizabeth-mitchell

That’s all for now – be sure to check back Monday thru Friday for the latest album cover art news!

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