Event Calendar
11. Oktober 2003 - 15. November 2003
Track 16 Gallery
Bergamot Station, Santa Monica
Helnwein, Manson
October 11 through November 15, 2003


30 July 2003, Santa MonicaÐTrack 16 Gallery is pleased to present The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were curated by music archivist Michael Ochs and fine artist Craig Butler. Inaugurated at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in June 2003, the exhibition consists of images created by one hundred artists who were invited to create the definitive album cover for their favorite recording artist. Given no boundaries, these artists had the unique opportunity to create their ultimate fantasy album cover as a purely artistic expression. The exhibition runs from October 11 through November 15, 2003, with an opening reception on October 11 from 6 to 9 P.M.

The result of this curatorial endeavor is a highly original and creative collection of contemporary art. The original exhibition feature works by author Kurt Vonnegut, musician Graham Nash, photographer William Claxton, artist Gottfried Helnwein, artist Ralph Steadman, artist Jimmy Wachtel, musician Marilyn Manson, artist Robert Williams, artist John Dismukes, and approximately ninety other artists working in all media. On its first stop since its opening, the exhibition at Track 16 Gallery will be a unique and different version from the original with the addition of new works created by more than forty artists.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Track 16 Nights will continue on four consecutive Friday nights, beginning on October 17. Panel discussions with participating artists, and several multimedia presentations will be featured. Track 16 Nights start at 8 P.M.; admission is $5. Please RSVP to 310.264.4678 or email reception@track16.com. For information, images, or additional press material, please call 310.264.4678. An exhibition catalogue will be for available for purchase throughout the run of the show.
Los Angeles Times
Thursday, October 9, 2003
The Arts
By Susan Carpenter
Times Staff Writer
A record featuring David Byrne dipped in chocolate titled “Double Dipped” and the socialist-themed “Elvis Live on Red Square” are two albums that never have been and never will be for sale – in reality, that is.
They are, however, among “The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were” – an art exhibit of 150 record jackets whose concepts and cover art were imagined by various graphic and fine artists. A traveling exhibit, it opens for a month-long display at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica this weekend.
“There was a time when you listened to the music and stared at the album cover,” said Michael Ochs, 60, the local music archivist who co-curated the show, “It’s a major part of American art that’s disappearing. As creative as some of the CD covers are, it’s not as much fun.”
Two and a half years ago, Ochs set out to change that, working with longtime friend Craig Butler. A fine artist from L.A. whose wife publishes a directory of commercial photographers, illustrators and designers, Butler started making calls. In a matter of months, he had 100 artists on board.
Conceived as a traveling museum show, the exhibit debuted in June at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. After stopping at Track 16, it will continue on to the Experience Music Project in Seattle. Though many of the participating artists are unknown to the public, some of them, like Robert Williams, are. Others aren’t visual artist at all, including novelist Kurt Vonnegut and musician Graham Nash.
“What happened was everybody got so stoked on this idea that they started recommending other people,” said Butler, 57.
That includes the curators at Track 16, who were so excited by the concept that they approached another 50 artists to participate. Among their additions: Yoko Ono, who is creating art for a made-up album by herself, and punk matriarch Lydia Lunch, who is doing the same.
“They were perfectly happy to do this for free just because there was no limit,” said Butler, whose own piece for the show was a fantasy Tom Petty record called “Warning Sign.” “They could just do what they love doing.”
That’s what attracted Gottfried Helnwein, a fine artist who created a Marilyn Manson cover.
“There’s no record company involved to tell you all the things you can’t do,” said Helnwein, who collaborated with Manson for a cover that included a young girl loading a rifle. “There’s no commercial aspects, so you’re free. That’s the exciting thing. You can just create.”
Helnwein knows something about artistic freedom. He shot the cover for Manson’s latest record, “The Golden Age of Grotesque” – a ghastly image of Manson in white and red face paint. It was the sixth image he submitted to the record company. The first five were all rejected.
Helnwein’s piece is unusual in that he worked with the musician to create his album art. Like the rest of the works in the show, his piece features a real artist but a fake record.
“We don’t have any legal problems this way,” said Butler.
The only other mandate for the art was that it be square, like a traditional album cover, though not necessarily the standard size, 12 inches by 12 inches. As Ochs quipped, “How could something so square be so hip?”

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