Still sorting through the bins

The Goldstein showcases the cream of an 18,000 album record collection

Claire Joseph

.”Hip Art That’s Square,” the latest exhibit at The Goldstein Museum of Design, celebrates the beauty of LP album covers, dating back to the 1930s.

Curator Steven McCarthy pointed out that although record albums might not be the first place we look for art, some album covers are tiny masterpieces.

“Record albums represented 12-by-12-inch canvases for artists to package and promote their music,” McCarthy said.

The album exhibit showcases these artistic treasures.

Richard Shelton, a professor of both music and art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, owns all the records on exhibit. In fact, although approximately 300 albums will be at the museum, Shelton’s personal collection numbers at more than 18,000.

The albums on exhibit are divided into various categories, often based on the artist who created the cover or the period or genre of the album. For example, there is an entire section of album covers by pop-culture king Andy Warhol. Other sections are devoted to lesser-known artists such as James Flora and David Stone Martin.

The exhibit organizes the art both by artist and by time period. It’s easy to see the community of album artists had a great deal of influence on one another. Especially with popular music, social pressures informed not only the musicians’ lyrics but also the cover art.

Not only were these small masterpieces affected by society in the past, but one can find their contributions in today’s popular culture as well. For example, one album cover, The Rumour’s “Purity of Essence,” shows the band standing in paisley shirts in front of a wallpapered background of the same paisley pattern. This image was recently reiterated in Zach Braff’s film “Garden State.”

Although the exhibit concentrates mostly on the art of album covers, Shelton is fond of both art and music. Thus, McCarthy came up with a way to celebrate the inside of the albums as well.

McCarthy and graduate student Rebecca Noran have set up a kiosk inside the exhibit that allows people to listen to songs from the album art collection.

The art exhibit would not have been complete without the sounds of musical legends such as Johnny Cash, The Grateful Dead, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, The Doors and Ella Fitzgerald.

Although Noran said “it’s a challenge oftentimes when you’re exhibiting music,” the Goldstein Museum of Design has met the challenge of finding artistic beauty both outside and inside the album.