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Art and Artists

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“Dali in Venice”   London Records.   1962.

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Native dancer

Thunderbird Records Present “Indian Songs of the Southwest” (Gems for Collectors) Includes a paste on cover of native American art by Gerald Nailor from 1948. Interesting liner notes too.

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A nice illustrated cover by Ben Shahn (1898-1969). “Chicago Style Jazz” on Columbia.

Art, as I saw it one day when I helped hang a National Academy show while I was a student there, was about cows. In those days, early in the twenties, there were many cow paintings. More than that, the cows always stood knee-deep in purple shadows. For the life of me I never learned to see purple where there was no purple — and I detested cows. I was frankly distressed at the prospects for me as an artist.

But there came a time when I stopped painting, stopped in order to evaluate all these doubts. If I couldn’t see purple where there was no purple–I wouldn’t use it. If I didn’t like cows, I wouldn’t paint them. What then was I to paint? Slowly I found that I must paint those things that were meaningful to me–that I could honestly paint in the shapes and colors I felt belonged to them. What shall I paint? Stories.Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn was an artist who spoke to the world. A man of uncompromising beliefs, he became the most popular artist of his age – his work was on the cover of Time as well as in the Museum of Modern Art.

Shahn came to prominence in the 1930s with “The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti,” a politically pointed series about the Italian anarchists who many believed were framed for murder. He went on to paint murals and take photographs for the government during the New Deal, and to become a successful painter and commercial artist.

In 1956-57, Ben Shahn was the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University (poetry was broadly defined as “all poetic expression in language, music, or the fine arts.”) During that time he gave a series of lectures, later collected and published by Harvard University Press. The Shape of Content has been in print and widely read since its publication in 1957. In fact, many people come into contact with Shahn’s writing before they are aware of his art.

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Monet (That’s what I want)

“Passion in Paint”   Henri Rene and his Orchestra.   RCA Victor   “Famous Paintings Set to Music”   We’ve seen this concept executed differently already.   Compare with this Vincent Price cover.

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Tschaikowsky “Pathetique” Symphony on HALO Records.   (Thanks to Mona Lisa)

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Dr. Phibes rises again and now he’s a docent


Vincent Price Presents Great Paintings in Musical Impressions by Ned Freeman and Performed by the Orchestra dei Concerti di Roma, Paul Baron Conducting. Dot Records.

In 1951, Price donated some 90 pieces from his own collection to East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, California, thus establishing the first “teaching art collection” owned by a community college in the U.S. Today, the Vincent Price Art Gallery continues to present world-class exhibitions, and remains one of the actor’s most enduring legacies. The collection contains over 2,000 pieces and has been valued in excess of five million dollars. – Wikipedia

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And now…the logo


Our logo was designed by Frank Olinsky, an incredible artist who has created some very famous and familiar icons including the MTV logo. Frank has also designed great album and CD covers for 10,000 Maniacs, The B-52’s, R.E.M, Smashing Pumpkins and many others. Check out his work at FrankOlinsky.com.

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One thing leads to another


The great Rube Goldberg illustrated this otherwise forgettable barber shop quartet record “Barber Shop in Hi-Fi”   Harmonized by The Play-Tonics.   Goldberg became synonymous with fantastically imaginative machines set in motion by a series of comical (and at times complicated) reactions and effects.   Here for example a mechanical barber is powered by the quartet’s sad song provoking the parrot’s tears; the plumbers response triggering the mouse, the cat lifting the candle to ignite the rocket, etc… Good fun always.   There are books of this stuff and there are several contests around the world known as Rube Goldberg contests which challenge high school students to make a complex machine to perform a simple task.   According to Wikipedia, the term “Rube Goldberg machine” first appeared in Webster’s Dictionary with the definition “accomplishing, by extremely complex roundabout means, what actually or seemingly could be done simply.”

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Great lines from Warhol & Williams


A neat Andy Warhol illustrated cover for Tennesse Williams Reading from “The Glass Menagerie, The Yellow Bird and Five Poems”. On Caedmon. Text and line drawings by Warhol (his signature clear in the upper left hand corner). Nice washes of color too.

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In the tradition


These old Folkways Records were very special to those in the New York City music scene that Dylan came upon circa 1962. He writes of meeting Cisco Houston at a party on Fifth Avenue down in the Village. Cisco was a compatriot of and fellow traveler with Woody Gutherie. The real deal. Dylan imagined getting a recording contract with Folkways — never dreamt of recording for Mitch Miller’s Columbia until John Hammond signed him. These Folkways covers are distinctive for their think, heavy cardboard covers. This one includes a nice line drawing by artist Ben Shahn. Shahn did numerous covers in the Fifties and early Sixties for various labels.

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