After spending two minutes with Matt Rowland and Ben Morales, President and Vice President of the AIGA – The Toledo Institute, one is struck by both their passion for design and their almost-equal passion for music, so their concept for this year’s AIGA fundraiser seems a logical extension of themselves. This one-night-only event, Rock, Paper, Sizzle will feature the work of more than 90 artists, some of them from here in Toledo, others from around the country, and even a few from places as far-flung as Japan. The art they’ll be displaying, though, will not be your standard design-institute-fundraiser fare; they’re redesigning album covers. The show will feature full-size covers of classic albums, from Nas and Jay Z to Frank Zappa and the B-52s, all reinterpreted by different artists.
Matt and Ben believe the exhibit is less about mourning the lost art of the full format album cover, and more about inspiring new generations of music-lovers to appreciate the idea of more. Matt explained that just as a full album cover allows more intricacy, detail, and story than the one-inch square image on your iPhone, a full record engages the listener in a longer, more concept-driven story that the fast and easy experience of the instantly downloaded single.
These reinterpretations will allow the viewer to reminisce about what each of these records meant to them, and engage with the artist’s interpretation—or misrepresentation of what that piece of music meant to them. The art should inspire viewers to remember the connection they first had with these records, and to agree—or disagree—with how the artists represented those remembered emotions. Each of the pieces on exhibit will be available for purchase in a silent auction at the end of the night, with a starting price of $25.00.
Along with this exhibit, The AIGA will be presenting a live art competition called Pixels of Fury, which will pit pairs of artists against each other in live creation of art which will be projected on a screen. Viewers will be able to watch them work and cheer on their favorites as the competition progresses.
DJ Geekout, aka Matt Hanson, will provide the soundtrack for the entire evening, and the first hundred donating entrants will receive his record – which Matt and Ben agree is fantastic.
Rock, Paper, Sizzle will encourage music fans to be more than consumers—to reclaim music as an interactive art form. As Matt and Ben explained, when music is sold to listeners, it is sold as a complete package for the listener to appreciate, but this blind commercialization of the art leaves little room for engagement. The show allows artists to take the music that influences them or has made an impact on their lives, and engage with it in a new way. These are not musicians doing covers, playing back the same songs they heard and loved; these are artists repainting the covers of music that strikes them.
Album art is powerful. It conveys the energy of the music inside without making a sound. Like all art, it connects to a buried part of the viewer, often a part they aren't even aware of. As Matt said, “album art can make the music iconic,” to which Ben quickly replied “like the naked baby,” referring to the classic cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album.
Without missing a beat, Matt finished, “yeah, if that had been a sh*tty band, that baby never would have worked.”
Saturday, September 7. 6:30-10pm. Free admission/donations welcome. Ballroom of the Secor Building, 425 Jefferson Ave. toledo.aiga.org