Album Cover News Recap for January, 2016

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Album Cover News Recap for the month of January, 2016

It’s early February 2016 and, while we here in the Pacific NW continue to endure a mostly-dreary Winter season (sun lamps are hot sellers here), we must consider ourselves lucky considering the bashing that many other areas of the country have been getting. And, while the circus sideshow we call “politics” continues to grab much of our attention these days, your Curator (hey, that’s me!) has been fortunate enough to tour art exhibitions in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and here in Portland, where the 2016 Print Fair was held this past weekend at the Portland Art Museum – lots of great art was seen and appreciated – yes, there is an art world beyond Album Cover-land!

My travels did, of course, slightly reduce the number of days I was able to share the latest album art-related news with you (and, even with a Leap Day added, this will occur again naturally in February), but the steady stream of album art-related news remained unabated, with the ACHOF news feed showcasing the many exhibitions, books and other such activities we reported on during the last 30 days. With stories on the interviews, features, profiles, gallery/museum shows and annual  “best and worst” lists adding to the impressive number  of exciting and inspiring articles you found in our news feed, I’ll now spend just a few paragraphs giving you a summary of these highlights and updates. After that,  it’ll be up to you  to visit our site to complete your re-reading of these items of interest on this list by reading/viewing these items at your leisure…

Lots of interesting interviews and profile articles this past month – both in print and on video – with album artists, rock photographers and others involved in the record packaging world, including designers John Holmstrom (Punk! Magazine), Rob O’Connor, David Stansbie (winner of this year’s Best Art Vinyl award), Terry Pastor and Barnbrook, the latter two included in a number of articles that touched on the death – and art world influence of – musician David Bowie, photographers Ami Barwell and E. J. Camp and Neill Cunningham, the young lad (now in his 50s) who graced the memorable cover for Power Windows by Canadian super group Rush. You’ll also find an interesting interview with rap impresario Killer Mike about his role in the release of a new line of Marvel Comic books sporting remakes of famous rap/hip-hop album covers.

There continued to be regular launches of rock art-related exhibitions and shows in museums and galleries that premiered during January, with collections on display that show a broad range of talent in design, illustration and photography. Throughout the month, you’ll find articles about current and just-completed exhibits including a show by Baron Wolman of his early (late 60s – early 70s) photos for Rolling Stone Magazine, an exhibition of all of the album covers created by Pop Art icon Andy Warhol, a show of paintings by Don Munson, a series of punk rock-era photo/art shows in the U.K. titled “Punk.London” and an exhibition/concert/auction in support of the foundation started by the folks behind famed NYC music/art venue Max’s Kansas City.

Other interesting articles appeared on a wide range of subjects including the awarding of this year’s winner of the world-wide album art design competition known as Best Art Vinyl, details of a “Rock in Photography” panel discussion held during the REEF/LA media festival, an article on a clothing line based on Barnbrook’s recent album art designs for the recently-departed David Bowie, info on a weekly design get-together in Springfield, IL, where participants create new takes on classic album art, the release of new works of art on wood by designer Winston Smith and photographer Edward Colver, a visit to a law firm in Cleveland that has tricked out their offices with a wide range of rock-influenced items, info on the release of a series of virtually hand-made vinyl albums by Portland-based label Jealous Butcher Records and a visit by yours truly to the San Pedro, CA studio and gallery of famed designer John Van Hamersveld.

As it typically the case, I don’t have the time/space to include everything in this summary, so please take a moment to dig through the rest of what’s below – I’m sure you’ll find something that stimulates your interest!

Coming soon – we’ll give you the winners in the packaging categories of this year’s Grammy Awards right after they’re announced on February 15th. There’s a nice mix of both newer and more-established talent that has been nominated, so it will be exciting to see who wins this year’s honors.

With all us busy with our day-to-day lives and the distractions that might limit the amount of time we have to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in our favorite category of art and design, I’m trying to do my part to help you with recent news you may have missed but, as I repeat (incessantly, I know) every month, regardless of how hectic your lives may be, there’s no reason that you should go without getting yourselves up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics when you’ll find it all right here. You can be sure that I’ll continue to work every day (except weekends and the occasional personal days) to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site (keep your eye on our News Feed for the latest updates).

January 29th – 1) As a great example of “should have left well-enough alone”, a French court has ordered Eric Clapton to pay about $16,500 to the heirs of the painter whose work (titled La Jeune Fille au Bouquet, or Young Girl with Bouquet) was originally used on the cover of the classic Derek & The Dominos record Layla (And Other Assorted Love Songs), which was released in 1970. Interestingly, the son of the painter – Emile Frandsen – had given the original painting to Clapton in 1970 after Frandsen had died the previous year. While the court awarded the family for Clapton’s later modifications of the original image that were used in subsequent re-releases (such as the 3-D pop out version created for the record’s 40th anniversary edition), they did not give them any of the money they sought for the original use (they’re appealing this decision). More details are available in Ignacio Villarreal‘s article on the Art Daily site – http://artdaily.com/news/84696/French-court-orders-Eric-Clapton-to-pay-compensation-over–Layla–album-cover

2) Always fun to see people playing with classic album cover images (AKA “Fun With Photoshop”)…in today’s example, the U.K. artist Pello has carefully inserted the face of pop singer Adele – taken from the cover photos from her two most-recent records, titled 21 and 25 – into the well-known covers for records including Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and David Bowie’s Heroes, among several others. I’m particularly fond of what the artist has done with Pink Floyd’s Division Bell cover, but tell me if you don’t agree that Adele ends up looking more like Madonna in this rendition…More to see on the artist’s site at http://www.pello.co.uk/blog/any-album-cover-adele/

3) In late February, rock star Sting and his wife Trudie will be working with the Christie’s auction house in the U.K. to offer up selections from their impressive collection of art and other valuables taken from their former townhouse in the Queen Anne’s Gate of London. Included in the 150+ works on offer will be art by Picasso, Matisse (including a complete set of images from the Jazz suite done in 1947), Klimt, Keith Haring and more-recent works by Zeng Chuanxing and Giles Alexander. Also up for auction is a beautiful Steinway grand piano. The folks at Christie’s have just put up a video presentation of some of the auction items that will be sold Feb. 24th, so if you’d like to see these items in their original setting, click on over to http://www.christies.com/features/Sting-and-Trudie-Styler-The-Composition-of-a-Collection-7018-3.aspx  and if you’d like to page through the online catalog, go to http://www.christies.com/zmags/?ZmagsPublishID=6764bbac&SaleTitle=&SaleId=0&GUID=&JumptoLot=
Cash, checks and credit cards will be accepted. Enjoy the show.

January 28th – 1) While I try to appreciate any/all publicity given to the topic of album cover artists and their work, in this day of web sites trying to fill pages with content, I wish that (sometimes) people would work a little harder when deciding to publish an article on a topic of interest to the many music/art fans out there. In today’s example, a writer for the Bustle site recently posted an article with the intriguing title “90s Album Covers You Didn’t Understand As A Kid, No Matter How Hard You Tried” and, based on the title, you go there assuming that you’ll find a list of confusing cover images and, in an ideal world, explanations as to why the creator of the image did what he/she did in each case. Well, guess what? 13 record covers are presented, each accompanied by a comment that explains only why the author is (still) confused.

Give me a break.

In an example of how another author did a much-superior job of giving us an answer to a question about the origins of one of the record cover images mentioned in the aforementioned writer’s list – that being Smashing Pumpkins’ MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESSJames Stafford does the research and gives us something valuable for the time spent on his site (with this article appearing on the Diffuser.fm site – http://diffuser.fm/cover-stories-smashing-pumpkins-mellon-collie-and-the-infinite-sadness/
To read the Bustle article (if you must, as a reference), here’s the link – http://www.bustle.com/articles/137062-90s-album-covers-you-didnt-understand-as-a-kid-no-matter-how-hard-you-tried
Let’s promise each other that we’ll both continue to work hard to share the stories behind “the making of” our favorite record covers.

2) Here’s another story about album art serving as the inspiration for creative types of all ages coming together to create and share works of art. Starting tomorrow, the Springfield Art Association (i.e., Springfield, the capital of the great state of Illinois) is hosting a weekly event in which participants will create their own works of art based on the week’s themed images, with those being vinyl album cover art in multiple genres. Each Friday (from 7-9:30pm), attendees will receive “an inspirational photo” from the instructor (Erin Svendsen) and then personal attention as they go about producing whatever they’re inspired to. The series kicks off with a number of folk music records (such as The Shepherd’s Dog by Iron And Wine), moving on to the Blues on Feb. 5th, Rock music Feb. 12th, etc., ending on March 18th with World music records. Called “Canvas & Cocktails”, each class is limited to 60 participants, with all art supplies included in the $20 ($10 for members) admission fee. More info is available on the SAA web site at http://www.springfieldart.org/Discover/Studios/Canvas%20and%20Cocktails/index.html
Would love to see the results of what participants have created – let me know if you go! Enjoy!

January 27th – 1) Highlights from the early days – back when he was lead shooter for Rolling Stone Magazine – of the 50+ year career of rock photographer Baron Wolman are featured in a new exhibition called “Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone” which will be up for viewing from January 28th to March 16th at Wilkes University’s Sordoni Art Gallery in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Wolman was on hand to document the players – and their lifestyles – who dominated rock & roll culture from its nascent days – The Beatles, The Stones, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, etc. – and, in particular, the musical acts that lead the West Coast scene, such as the Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane and many others. Want to get a better understanding of what it was like to grow up in the 60s? Just look through the lens of Mr. Wolman and read more of the details provided in Matt Mattei‘s article on the Times Leader site – https://timesleader.com/features/506111/chief-photographer-of-rolling-stone-from-1967-70-to-show-work-at-sordoni-gallery-in-wilkes-barre

2) At the Photo LA show that took place in late January at the REEF/LA Mart, there was a panel discussion – “ROCK in Photography” – that featured five talented people from the album art world sharing the details and experiences of their individual and collective efforts to create imagery for their many well-known music industry clients (who’ve included acts such as Bob Dylan, The Doors, Springsteen, The Clash, David Bowie and dozens of others). Featured on the panel – which was moderated by Grammy Award-winning designer/photographer Hugh Brown – were notables including Guy Webster, Neal Preston, Alec Byrne and MJ Kim, all photographers with impressive portfolios and stories to match. While I wasn’t able to learn much about the details of last Thursday’s (1/21) discussion (promo details were given on the Frontiers Media site in Mike Ciraico‘s article – https://www.frontiersmedia.com/frontiers-blog/2016/01/20/photo-l-a-where-shots-really-are-worth-1000-words/ ), one of the participants – Guy Webster – did include some info on his Tumblr site – http://guywebsterphoto.tumblr.com/ , along with a photo of the artist in attendance – my research into this brought me to an article that I hadn’t seen before that I also want to share. Late last February, writer CJ Gronner did a profile of Mr. Webster on his “Blogtown” site that provided a lot of info – and imagery – on Webster and his fabled career as a music industry photographer and also his efforts to document the many interesting people living in and around Venice, CA. To learn more, click on over to read this nicely-detailed look back on the career of “someone who has seen it all”…. http://www.blogtownbycjgronner.com/2015/02/big-shots-work-of-guy-webster.html

January 26th – 1) Just a reminder to all of you living near (or visiting) South Florida who’re looking for an album cover-related activity to spend some quality time with. Having launched 1/26 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (running until April 10th) there’s the “Warhol on Vinyl: The Record Covers, 1949-1987+” exhibition, a show that features examples of the 50+ record covers the famed artist created during his career, including several examples of cover images that were created but never used. While his career started working for the popular jazz labels at the time, he truly excelled when it came to creating memorable imagery for his clients and friends in the Pop and Rock music arenas, from Lou Reed & The Velvet Underground to the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and many others. The show was organized by the museum’s curator for contemporary art Kathy Goncharov, and I’m hoping to learn/see more about this exhibit in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy Lee Zimmerman’s recent article in the Broward/Palm Beach New Times –http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/arts/andy-warhols-album-covers-collection-comes-to-boca-raton-7518489

2) Seminal punk rock scene magazine Punk! celebrates its 40th anniversary with a retrospective exhibition (a Howl! Happening) in NYC and, as part of these festivities, magazine founder/creative lead John Holmstrom will be moderating a panel of people who, each in his/her own way, helped both create and document the era. Panel participants will include photographer Roberta Bayley, musician Richard Hell and writer/film-maker Mary Harron – a group truly representative of the mid-70s NYC punk scene.Matthew Kassel recently posted an interview with Holmstrom on the Observer web site – http://observer.com/2016/01/punkd-the-seminal-downtown-zine-of-the-70s-celebrates-an-anniversary/  while more info on the January 28th (6:30pm EST) panel discussion can be found on the Howlarts site at http://www.howlarts.org/happening-now/

January 25th – 1) Visitors to London in early 2016 will have a range of events/exhibitions they can visit that feature the talents of many of the UK’s best-known rock photographers and designers who participated in – and documented – the emergence to the punk music scene there 40 years ago. The “Punk.London” fest takes place at a number of top city venues – including the Design Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Barbican Library and The Photographer’s Gallery, among others – and includes displays of the work of talented people such as Jill Furmanovsky (Rockarchive’s A Chunk of Punk), Janette Beckman (Punk Rock Hip-Hop Mash Up) and Dennis Morris (PiL: First Issue To Metal Box) along with a host of related events. Low Lai Chow gives us an overview in this article on the Blouin ArtInfo site – http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1313698/7-must-go-punk-events-in-london-jan-mar-2016  , and you can also click on over to the festival’s own site at http://www.punk.london/events.php  to read and see more. The festival is funded by a £90,000 ($128K) Heritage Lottery Fund grant – so nice to see a show about anarchy supported by gambling money!

2) Trying to make sense of the artwork found on some of your favorite record covers and the “art speak” you typically find in articles about the subject still leaves you scratching your head? Well, we must thank writer Brian Wilson‘s recent contribution to the What Culture site for his efforts to give us sensible explanations for the covers to eight of the better-known albums from bands including Muse, David Bowie, Traffic, The Cranberries and several others. I did take note that several of the covers selected were done by the team at the Hipgnosis design firm – were they purposely trying to confuse us, or get us to think? In either case, it is nice to see some reasonable accounting for these mysterious cover images put to paper – http://whatculture.com/music/8-mind-bending-album-covers-and-what-they-really-mean.php/

3) Finally, any of us who has spent time digging through record bins looking for something intriguing to look at and listen to has to admit that, from time to time, the visual rewards exceeded the musical ones. While examining this recent article posted by staffers at the Noisey Music By Vice site, readers are provided with 11 such examples and are then given a chance to learn a bit more about the concepts behind these packages and, unfortunately, where those musical acts failed in their overall efforts. Is there no “bad marketing”? Yes, there is… http://noisey.vice.com/blog/album-covers-that-are-better-than-the-albums

 January 22nd – 1) The nice folks at Art Vinyl sent me links to a recent 2-part “London Live” interview piece that took place at the unveiling of the “Best Art Vinyl” exhibition at the Belgraves Hotel in London. Part 1 includes an interview with Art Vinyl director Andrew Heeps during which he gives us a brief history of the 10-year-old award show, whereas Part 2 includes interviews with famed album cover designer Rob O’Connor, whose Stylorouge design group has created dozens of memorable covers (including the one for Squeeze’s recent release titled Cradle To The Grave, one of many O’Connor has done for the band over the past 30 years) and then with the just-announced winner of this year’s competition, art director David Stansbie of The Creative Corporation, who collaborated with acclaimed designer Aubrey “Po” Powell on the cover imagery for David Gilmour’s record Rattle That Lock. David shares a bit about the inspiration for the cover image (representing Gilmour’s efforts to break free of his Pink Floyd past), so I’d invite you to click on over to YouTubeland to watch both parts – Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6NPCUwB2NM  and Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzXVua2p0xY

Bonus related content – back in early 2014, record expert Simon Kinsler appeared on the Alan Titchmarsh Show with Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford to discuss the stories of several classic album covers, including ones for David Bowie, The Beatles, The Clash, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd as well as the Genesis release Trick Of The Tail. Kinsler surprises us (and Rutherford) by also showing the cover for an Italian bootleg release of the Genesis record – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUTaMGs8AVg

2) Here’s an interesting article by The Plain Dealer writer Roxanne Washington (on the Cleveland.com site) profiling the rock and roll-inspired decor of a local law firm. With the city’s place in rock and roll history cemented by the presence of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame/Museum, attorney Stephen Zashin took advantage of his firm’s move into a new space to decorate the place with both Cleveland and rock music-related memorabilia, artwork and furnishings. From a bust of Shakespeare done up KISS-style to photographs (including several by famed local photographer Janet Macoska) of top rock acts performing at local venues, the energy that the space generates applause (and an occasional lighter-lighting) from all that see it. More via the link at http://www.cleveland.com/insideout/index.ssf/2016/01/cool_spaces_law_firm_pays_trib.html

3) Writing for York University’s Excalibur publication, Alexander Colle shares an essay with us in which he explores his personal relationship with album cover art and what makes certain examples exceptional. He does touch on one aspect that I think certainly helps separate the great from the pedestrian – that being, does the cover have anything to do with the music featured inside the package. As an integral part of the overall marketing/promotion of a record, you’d like to think so, but you have to wonder some times… http://www.excal.on.ca/its-cool-judge-an-album-by-its-cover/

January 21st – 1) Don’t you just love it when things make perfect sense? Of course the kid pictured on the cover (front and back) of Rush’s Power Windows record would, 30+ years later, own a record store in Toronto! Photographer Dimo Safari (always loved that name) took the photo of young Neill Cunningham after the then-19-year-old boy responded to a notice that Safari was looking for “skinny blonde-haired kids” to model for an album cover shoot. Cunningham was a big fan of another of Safari’s clients – Madonna – and thought that he might be included in a cover image for the pop star, so it was with a bit of disappointment that he took the news that the shoot would be for Rush. Turned out OK, don’t you think? Read more about what the now-52-year-old store owner is up to these days in this article by Nick DeRiso on the UltimateClassicRock site – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/rush-power-windows-cover-boy/

2) The works of German surrealist Pierre Schmidt (AKA “Drømsjel”) are superb examples of how an artist can take their work “to a whole ‘nother level” when they take the time to learn the tools of their trade – in this case, computer-aided design tools – to produce artwork of stunning creativity (you have to see the cover he did for Silence of the Sirens for German Prog Rock band A Kew’s Tag – I don’t get it, but I can’t stop looking at it! In Afarin Majidi’s recent profile of the artist on the First To Know site (complete with a nice slideshow of Schmidt’s works), you’ll learn more about his inspirations, his approach to a project and some insights into knowing just when a project is “done” – http://firsttoknow.com/artist-profile-meet-pierre-schmidt-a-k-a-dromsjel-the-surreal-genius/

3) Hometown talent (i.e., folks from Portland, OR) is featured in an exciting new series of limited-release records being released soon by Jealous Butcher Records. The seven records that make up the “Series 33” offering include music from acts that range from Decemberists drummer John Moen to the Alialujah Choir and are virtually hand-made collectibles, offered in editions of 33 numbered records. Some of the records will be made even more unique in that they’ll have a selection of different cover images, such as Daniel Charles Hunt’s Inside Passage, which will come with one of 3 different sleeve designs, a set of 3 art prints by artist Christina Conant and a one-of-a-kind map of the coast of British Columbia made by Hunt himself (he’s also a cartographer!). All of the record packages will be sold for $33 each, so if you’d like to learn more about the offerings (and, perhaps, reserve one for yourself), you should read Oregonian writer David Greenwald‘s piece on the Oregon Live site http://www.oregonlive.com/music/index.ssf/2016/01/attention_vinyl_geeks_portland.html  and then click on over to the label’s site at http://www.jealousbutcher.com/collections/series-33

January 20th – 1) Nice feature profile of Long Island, NY-based photographer E.J. Camp by reporter Monique Singh-Roy on the North Forker site (for those of you unfamiliar with the territory, Long Island is shaped like a 2-pronged fork – the North Fork being where you’ll find wineries and agriculture and the South Fork being where you’ll find the Hamptons and Montauk). The busy photographer has produced an impressive portfolio of work over the past 40 or so years, including images for movie posters (Top Gun, Forrest Gump and others), fashion/lifestyle magazines (inc. lots of covers for Rolling Stone) and dozens of album covers for musical acts including Joan Jett, Peabo Bryson and Tony Bennett. Her works, including a beautiful collection of naturescapes, are on display at the Ralph Pucci Gallery in NYC and E.J. also shares her talents and enthusiasm for the arts by leading workshops at the International Center for Photography in NYC. Learn more about another “unsung hero” via the link http://northforker.com/2016/01/02/dont-know-name-know-ej-camps-work/

2) Yorkshire (UK)-based photographer Ami Barwell has spent nearly half her life as a professional photographer, which is an impressive accomplishment considering that she’s only 36 years of age. Beginning her love of the arts as a youngster with a Kodak Instamatic, Barwell’s keen eye, artistic sensibilities and winning personality has made her a favorite with the rock & roll set, her portfolio growing to include portraits of musical acts both new (Pigeon Detectives, Kasabian, etc.) and classic (Iron Maiden, Iggy Pop and Meat Loaf, among others). She’s expanded her client base to include corporate clients including Ray-Ban and Converse, so it was nice to be able to learn a bit more about someone who looks as though she has a long career in front of her in this recent article about her on the Yorkshire Post site titled “How To Photograph Rock Royalty” – http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/what-s-on/arts/how-to-photograph-rock-music-royalty-1-7656549

3) While I’ve worked hard to avoid getting sucked in to a “binge watching” habit, I have to admit that I’ve spent some time watching Amazon’s award-winner series Mozart In The Jungle and, as any of you who’ve also seen the series might figure, I’ve paid particular attention to the nicely-animated show open. In this article on the Vulture.com site, Alissa Wilkinson talks to the guy responsible for the ever-changing display, designer Teddy Blanks, who shares that he got a lot of his inspiration for this work from the trend-setting designs of “the father of the album cover”, Alex Steinweiss. http://www.vulture.com/2016/01/mozart-in-the-jungle-titles-change-each-time.html#  To see more of Alex S’s influential portfolio, please visit the late artist’s site at http://www.alexsteinweiss.com/as_index.html

January 19th – 1) South Windsor, CT’s Wood Memorial Library recently launched an exhibit featuring recent abstract paintings of the local scenery – barns and other buildings – by artist Don Munson, the artist and educator we recently profiled for his work on the Chicago VI album cover. Following up a successful exhibit that closed at the end of November at the Richard Salter Storrs Library in Longmeadow, MA, Munson’s new display shows artwork that demonstrates the ongoing development of his talents that first came to fame as an art director who has also produced set designs for Broadway, book covers for Random House (including a coveted Chesley Award for Best Art Director in the science fiction/fantasy world) and seven original typefaces. His 50+ year career has also featured collaborations with Salvador Dali and Josef Albers, so art fans from all walks of life should enjoy what they find in this latest show, running through Jan. 30th. More info is available in Kathleen McWilliams’ article on the Hartford Courant site at http://www.courant.com/community/south-windsor/hc-south-windsor-don-munson-0115-20160111-story.html  and a re-cap of his last show can be found in Douglas Clement‘s article on the Take Magazine site at http://thetakemagazine.com/line-color-and-barns.html

2) Two well-known creatives who’ve garnered much praise for the works of art they’ve created to showcase the punk music era – designer/artist Winston Smith and photographer Edward Colver – have both released new works of art for the Prints On Wood fine art publishing site. From now until February 3rd, fans can buy signed/numbered limited editions of Smith’s latest creation – Mona Mohawk – and one of Colver’s best-known images of former Dead Kennedy frontman Jello Biafra, both printed on 1/2″ sustainable birch wood panels. Both prints use archival UV-protected inks and can be owned for a quite-reasonable price of $100. To learn more about these prints from these artists – both of whom have contributed album cover imagery for bands including the aforementioned DKs, Black Flag, Green Day and many others – and, if so motivated, reserve one for yourself – click on over to the info pages on the Prints On Wood site:
Mona Mohawk can be seen at http://www.printsonwood.com/artists/winston-smith/mona-mohawk  , while Jello Biafra can be found at http://www.printsonwood.com/artists/edwardcolver/edward-colver-jello-biafra

3) You might recall that I reported recently on the winning covers selected in this year’s Best Art Vinyl competition and, as you typically find after awards have been handed out, there are critics that believe that other works should have also been given a higher profile and so, in the case of writer Meg Miller and the crew on Fast Company‘s design review team, readers now have a chance to learn more about both the winners and several other works that deserve a bit more attention. After viewing their slideshow (and wishing they’d given me a bit more detail as to why they made these selections), I can’t deny that these works put a lot of talent on display, but…. http://www.fastcodesign.com/3055350/10-amazing-new-album-covers?

January 14th – 1) Opening today (Jan 14th) in NYC’s East Village at the Howl! Happening gallery is an exhibition honoring the 40th anniversary of the launch of PUNK Magazine. Organized by designer Arturo Vega – well-known for the iconic logo he designed for the Ramones – the show includes artwork and photos by John Holmstrom, Robert Romagnoli, Danny Fields and many others. On display until January 30th, anyone looking to revisit the designs and styles that grew out of this Lower-East Side movement – and the venues that provided the surroundings for the events covered in the publication should be sure to stop by. More info is available both on the promoter’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/events/161829767513053/  and on the HowlArts web site at http://www.howlarts.org/event/punk-magazine-40th-anniversary-exhibition/

2) The folks now inhabiting my old stomping grounds (i.e., Fuse TV) recently posted an interview with popular rapper/activist/Bernie Sanders supporter Killer Mike regarding the launch of Marvel Comic’s free collection of album cover-inspired “variant” covers (of which KM’s Run The Jewels was the first example). Titled The Hip-Hop Covers, fans will find 14 of the covers featured in this freebie 32-page publication, Mike gives us the details of the background behind the project, why certain covers were selected and what the project means to him personally. http://www.fuse.tv/2016/01/killer-mike-marvel-hip-hop-covers-introduction-exclusive  Bonus – If you scroll to the bottom of the article, you’ll find a video interview with Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso about the project as he talks about it at the New York Comic-Con event.

3) Opening tomorrow (Jan 15th) at the Ann Arbor Art Center in Ann Arbor, MI is a new show that gives music/art fans a comprehensive look at the talents of the folks who’ve produced the steady stream of promotional artwork for the state’s music scene over the years. “GIG: The Art of Michigan Music” has been curated by musician/blogger/photographer Chuck Marshall and puts on display the works of 20-plus artists/illustrators and photographers selected from a large pool of talent working in the area, with most of the artwork on display also available for sale. Writing for the Detroit Metro TimesLee DeVito talks to the curator about how (and why) the show came together and how pleased he is to be able to introduce fans to the names and talents of the artists who’ve helped create their favorite local bands’ visuals. http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/gig-show-pays-respects-to-the-visual-artists-who-bring-michigan-music-to-life/Content?oid=2388716

January 13th – 1) If you live in the NYC area, pay attention here… On the evening of Jan. 14th, the nice people (this means you, Yvonne) at the Max’s Kansas City Project staged the first of two commemorative events – the first of which is a Lou Reed/Velvet Underground Tribute concert event at the Cutting Room on E. 32nd St starting at 8PM EST, followed in February (on the 11th at the Chelsea Hotel Gallery) with a “Meet & Greet the Artists and Photographers Reunion Party/Exhibition/Auction” that will display and auction off works by many of the best-known shooters covering the scene at Mickey Rushkin’s famous club in the 1960s-70s.

The concert, which will be MC’d by MKC stalwart Jimi LaLumia, will reunite a number of key players from Reed and the VU’s past and will feature an impressive list of guest performers including Marshall Crenshaw, Lenny Kaye, Garland Jeffries and a host of others. Next month’s exhibition and auction will include works by top photographers including Marcia Resnick, Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley and others, with many of the artists in attendance.

The proceeds of both events will go to support the Project’s programs aimed at “helping artists in need by providing emergency relief and resources for individuals in the arts in crisis”, along with their FEARLESS YOUTH, a teen empowerment through the arts program now in development.
You can view some of the collections that will be on display via this link – http://maxskansascity.org/?page_id=14
Event details are available via the link at https://t.e2ma.net/message/eij2m/ylryip

2) While the sad death of Mr. Bowie has dominated the news here for the past couple of days, I’d be remiss if I did not post about the recent passing of another famed creator of great album cover imagery, that being Tony Lane, former art director of Rolling Stone Magazine and the project lead behind hundreds of top record covers, including packages for Michael Jackson (Bad), Simon & Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water) and Carly Simon’s Boys In The Trees, for which he won a Grammy Award. A graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art, the 71-year-old artist died on New Years Day at his home in Oakland, CA. Aidin Vaziri has put together a nice tribute to the man on the SFGate web site – http://www.sfgate.com/music/article/Tony-Lane-artist-behind-Rolling-Stone-and-album-6746421.php

3) One last Bowie-related item – saw this video on the website of The Guardian (UK) newspaper that shows fans gathering at the spot in London where, in the early 1970s, Bowie and Terry Pastor worked together to produce the memorable cover shot for the soon-to-be-famous Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars LP. It’s quite touching to see the out-pouring of emotions and tributes for the late Mr. Bowie, particularly from the youngsters in the crowd – http://www.theguardian.com/music/video/2016/jan/11/david-bowie-fans-ziggy-stardust-heddon-street-video

January 12th – So much Bowie-related info to sift through…I had planned on reporting on a couple of these prior to the news of his untimely death, but it seems to make sense to push these forward now:

1) As the amazing display of costumes included in the David Bowie Is touring exhibition illustrates, clothing design was always an important part of his creative output, so it only made sense for Bowie to partner with his friend Paul Smith (who he’d worked with several years back on merch sporting the designs from The Next Day album) to offer fans an opportunity to buy a special-edition t-shirt (available in black or white) sporting the Black Star graphics developed by Jonathan Barnbrook. The shirts were released to the public via Paul Smith outlets and retail for £65 in the U.K. More pix/details are available in Shareen Sagoo‘s recent article on the GQ Magazine site – http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/style/articles/2016-01/07/paul-smith-david-bowie-black-star-t-shirt
You can read more about the professional relationship between these two very-creative individuals on the Paul Smith site (scroll down past the merch) – http://www.paulsmith.co.uk/uk-en/shop/stories/david-bowie-blackstar-t-shirt

2) I’d mentioned artist Terry Pastor – the guy responsible for two of Bowie’s best-known LP covers (Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory) – in my article yesterday, so it was nice to see this just-posted interview with Mr. Pastor by Edmund Crosthwaite in the East Anglian Daily Times in which he revisits the days spent with the still-somewhat-unknown Bowie working on the photographs and designs that would soon grace these DB standards. The 69-year-old painter/artist is still working from his studios in Lavenham, and although he didn’t work again with the musician, he seems happy to be able to share the details of these projects that would, ultimately, help establish the both of them in the annals of rock music history – http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/iconic_bowie_album_cover_artist_remembers_pub_trips_with_straightforward_unpretentious_future_star_1_4375340

3) As an art school student, Bowie chose painting as one of the ways he best-liked to express himself so, as success provided him with the resources to collect art in a serious manner, Bowie’s personal art collection would grow to include both examples of classic painting (Tintoretto, Rubens) and boundary-breaking modern art. As he describes it in this article by Sarah Cascone on the Artnet News site, “I’ve gone for what seemed to be an important or interesting departure at a certain time, or something that typified a certain decade, rather than go for Hockneys or Freuds or whatever.” With a focus on those willing to push – and, often, break boundaries in their respective areas – it’s interesting to learn more (and see) the examples of art that would ultimately find their way into the collection of one of the world’s best-known multi-media artists – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/take-peek-david-bowies-art-collection-405296

4) Lastly, I wanted to point you to a nicely-illustrated article found on the Artsy.com site that shows many examples of Bowie as the subject of shutterbugs from all areas within the business – those known as celebrity photographers, rock photographers, fashion photographers, etc. – as well as the many personas they’d find of their subject throughout his 40+ year career in the spotlight (or, as talk-show host Dick Cavett would put it, “he changes – like a chameleon”). Enjoy the trip through the photographic history of the always-changing personality that was David Bowie – https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-david-bowie-s-too-short-life-in-photographs

January 11th – One of the best examples of someone who fully understood how important the mix of the aural and the visual was to fans of rock music – that was David Bowie:

1) Writer Lorena Muñoz-Alonso provides us with a nice overview of the man always described as “artist/musician” in her article today on the Artnet.com site. In the article, you’ll find comments from people from the entire spectrum of the arts who all agree that Bowie – as a music-maker, an actor and trend-setting visual artists – was a major influence in their careers – https://news.artnet.com/people/david-bowie-dies-cancer-at-69-404777

2) Over on the Washington Post site, writer Michael Cavna gives us a look at the many ways that Bowie excelled as a visual artist, working with the leading designers (Terry Pastor, Jonathan Barnbrook and many others), photographers (Brian Duffy, Masayoshi Sukita, etc.), illustrators (Guy Peellaert, Rex Ray, more) and others to bring a strong visual sense to his album cover art. Who better to have played Andy Warhol in the film on J.M. Basquiat? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/01/11/beyond-the-music-how-david-bowie-was-one-of-our-smartest-visual-artists-as-well/

3) One of the best-attended museum shows of the past few years – still touring the world – is the fascinating “David Bowie Is” show that brings together over 400 items from Bowie’s personal collection of memorabilia, with one of the best-known images included in the mix being Brian Duffy‘s iconic photo featured on the cover of Aladdin Sane. in this article on The Daily Record site – Duffy’s son Chris – who now manages his late father’s archives – shares the details of his first meeting with the then-Ziggy-Stardust-era Bowie, who’d hired his father to shoot his new record’s cover even though DB considered Duffy “a lunatic”. In this article, you’ll see a number of alt-takes produced during that photo session – I think that they chose the right one, don’t you? http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/music/son-david-bowies-photographer-iconic-7152049

4) Mr. Bowie’s latest (and now last) record was just released last week, to much critical acclaim both for the music and for Barnbrook’s “Black Star” record cover design. In an article written for the Huffington Post’s UK site, Kevin J. Hunt, a Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Nottingham Trent University in the UK gives us an art educator’s take on the record’s simple-yet-powerful imagery. Album art fans will recall Barnbrook’s controversial re-thinking of the cover of Bowie’s 1977 Heroes LP for use on his 2013 record The Next Day, so it’s no mystery why a musician well-known for his talents as a mime would choose to work closely with a designer who can say so much with simple designs – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kevin-j-hunt/david-bowie-blackstar_b_8937048.html

5) With so many different approaches to the creation of memorable cover images that were featured on his records over the past 40+ years, it proved to be quite a challenge for yours truly to remember all of them, so while I’m not sure whether or not to be proud of my 87% “correct” survey result, I’d invite you to try your hand on this just-published quiz given to us by Ashley Percival also on the HuffPo UK site – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/01/11/david-bowie-album-covers-quiz_n_8953860.html

6) Lastly, just want to remind you that I had the particular pleasure of interviewing two of the people who’d created album covers for David Bowie, so if you’d like to re-visit these, here are the links:

– To read my interview with the late Rex Ray, creator of the covers for Hours, Reality, Best of Bowie and The David Bowie Box, please visit http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/2008/05/cover-story-int.html

– To read my interview with Terry Pastor, creator of the designs used on two of Bowie’s best-known LPs – Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars and Hunky Dory – click on over to http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/2007/04/cover_story_bow.html

My wishes for peace and fond memories go out to Bowie’s family, fans and friends. He’ll be missed, but the music lives on.

January 8th-9th – Hope you’ll go back to my Facebook news feed on January 8th to read my illustrated article about my recent visit to San Pedro’s Post Future art – A Visit With The King & Queen Of Coolhous – John Van Hamersveld And Alida Post (https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame/ – see item #3, below) and…

1) The top vote-getters in this year’s “Best Art Vinyl” competition have been announced, with the winner – the cover for David Gilmour’s recent release titled Rattle That Lock – featuring the talents of long-time Gilmour/Pink Floyd visual collaborators Aubrey Powell and Rupert Truman teamed with art director David Stansbie of The Creative Corporation design group (London). 2nd Place was awarded to UK rockers Drenge for their Undertow album (image by Donald Milne), with third place given to Tame Impala’s record titled Currents (Robert Beatty design/artwork). The winners were selected from a field of 50 nominees from all over the world, with both winners and runner-ups included in a travelling art show that will be on display in various locations in the U.K. and Europe through Spring, 2016. More details are available both on the BBC web site – http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35260403  and on the Best Art Vinyl site at http://www.artvinyl.com/lp-records-displayed-as-artwork-prize/ Congratulations to all for jobs VERY well done!

2) The details for the fifth annual Secret 7″ record design/charity fund-raiser program have been announced, presenting designers and collectors of record sleeve art with opportunities to submit their best efforts and take home original artwork, with proceeds supporting a worthwhile charity. A combined effort of Universal Music (UK), the Monotype design group and the new Sonos Studios, this year’s competition will entice designers to select one of seven classic tracks from musical acts including John Lennon, The Jam and Etta James and develop a unique image for any/all of these tunes, the best 700 (100 each) of which will be put on display in a show at Sonos’ London studio gallery from April 8th through May 1st and then sold (first-come, first-served) for the amazing price of £50 each, with proceeds this year going to support the work of renowned human rights group Amnesty International UK. The 405′Matt Korman gives us the details at http://www.thefourohfive.com/music/article/secret-7-announces-schedule-opens-design-submissions-145  Those readers who are also artists – I challenge you to submit your best efforts in support of this great cause – best of luck!

3) This past week, my wife and I were privileged to spend a couple of hours at the San Pedro, CA gallery run by Alida Post and her extremely-creative hubby, artist John Van Hamersveld. Music art fans well-know JVH’s work on both album covers (Exile On Main Street, Magical Mystery Tour, KISS’s Hotter Than Hell and many more) and posters (the Pinnacle series and surfing flick The Endless Summer are just two from his impressive portfolio), but the gallery provides fans with so much more, including examples of commercial designs (the FATBURGER logo, the murals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games!) and historic photos of the artist with his collaborators/friendly competitors including photographer Norman Seeff, Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Victor Moscoso and others adding to a visitor’s fascination with the place. The gallery itself serves to resurrect a space in San Pedro – the former Williams Bookstore, which closed a couple of years ago after serving the community for over 100 years, hosting celebrity authors (poet Charles Bukowski, for example) and celebrity customers (Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester were regulars!) – and re-establishing the site as a cultural hub for locals and visitors alike. I’ll post some photos in a stand-alone repeat of this posting – you can find more info about the gallery and the art found within on their site at http://www.post-future.com/
Thanks again for your time and hospitality, John and Alida – keep up the great work!

That’s all for now – look for updates every week day on our news feed –https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back early next month with another summary for you.

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