CRATEDIGGER: The Lost Art of Album Cover Art at Gabba Gallery
reviewed by Julie Faith
As the daughter of a Detroit record promoter and a New York VP of packaging at Atlantic Records, I remember when album cover art was e v e r y thing. In our house, Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” was dinner table conversation, an original artist’s print of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” hung unapologetically over the living room couch, and a life-sized replica of Bruce Springsteen’s unforgettable “Born in the USA” asset still resides in the stairwell. It’s actually amazing that, in this age of iTunes, Pandora, and Soundcloud, album art is still considered by so many to be such a vital part of their personal musical experience. Think about it. What do you hear when you see the prism of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon”? Do you see the Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” *cough* zipper when you hear “Brown Sugar”? Album cover art was, and still is, about connection with music. It is about impact. And, more than anything, it is the visual representation of Rock and Roll.
So, when I heard about Gabba Gallery’s CRATEDIGGER: The Lost Art of Album Cover Art the significance was not lost on me and I couldn’t wait to see the theme interpreted. Now, the lovely thing about a Gabba Gallery event is that it’s always feels like a celebration. The opening night reception for CRATEDIGGER was no different. Curated by Jason Ostro, 85 local and international artists came together to pay tribute to the Art of the Album Cover. Each artist created a 12” x 12” cover design for a real or fictional album. To that end, some pieces in the show are immediately familiar, others not so much. Regardless, the results are, in a word: Spectacular.
Just as tastes in music are unique and varied, so too is this show. I found myself wondering about the methods of each artist. Did they have a concept in mind and then invent an album to match or did the theme jog a memory of a particular go-to from their past? Whatever the modus operandi, Cratedigger is an eclectic narrative of artistic and musical collaboration. I can tell you my personal favorites but they probably won’t be yours and vice versa. But that’s exactly what makes CRATEDIGGER such an exceptional show. It may sound cliche, but there truly is something for everyone here.
As a side note: I’ve spent the last few days observing the social media buzz surrounding CRATEDIGGER. The sheer number of pictures, compliments, and heartfelt gratitude expressed directly towards Gabba and Ostro in such a public forum only serves to further illustrate the profound effect this exhibition has had on the contributing artists and patrons alike. Take a minute to stop by Gabba Gallery and see for yourself. The show runs August 20 – September 10, 2016. I’ll be watching my feed for your #CRATEDIGGER posts.