Ex­hibit pays trib­ute to iconic album images

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - GO OUT MUSIC ART STAGE -

Next week, the Mem­phis Rock ‘n’ Soul Mu­seum will shine a light on a of­ten ne­glected art form: the album cover.

The Rock ‘n’ Soul’s new ex­hibit, “The Fine Art of Rock,” fea­tures orig­i­nal paint­ings, pen-and-inks and draw­ings of some of the most fa­mil­iar and iconic album cov­ers of all time: from Aero­smith to Black Sab­bath, Jef­fer­son Air­plane to the Tur­tles.

The ex­hibit — pre­sented by Ra­dian Part­ners with Fedex — is cu­rated by Ernie Ce­falu. The Grammy-nom­i­nated Ce­falu has en­joyed a 40-plus-year ca­reer as a de­signer. For al­most 15 years, through the ‘70s and ‘80s, he served as cre­ative direc­tor for the noted album de­sign firm Pa­cific Eye & Ear — per­son­ally cre­at­ing about 189 cov­ers dur­ing those years and su­per­vis­ing hun­dreds more.

In ad­di­tion, the Cal­i­for­niabred Ce­falu helped create iconic lo­gos and work on cam­paigns for “Je­sus Christ Su­per­star” and the Rolling Stones, among oth­ers.

At Pa­cific Eye & Ear, Ce­falu worked with a ros­ter of tal­ented artists whose work is fea­tured in the ex­hibit, in­clud­ing Bill Gar­land, Joe Patagno and Drew Struzan. “Drew Struzan went on to do all the ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ posters,” says Ce­falu. “He’s now the most col­lected il­lus­tra­tor in the world.”

Ce­falu is high­light­ing the work of Struzan and oth­ers as part of a 46-piece col­lec­tion that will be on dis­play at the Rock ‘n’ Soul through Nov. 20. The orig­i­nal pieces in­clude cov­ers for the Bee Gees, Black Oak Arkansas, Canned Heat, Alice Cooper, Earth, Wind & Fire, Grand Funk Rail­road, Iron But­ter­fly and more. On Thurs­day, Ce­falu be in Mem­phis for a 6 p.m. lec­ture and Q&A ses­sion at the Rock ‘n’ Soul (the event is free and open to the gen­eral pub­lic).

For Ce­falu, putting to­gether the big­gest col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal album art in the world came about al­most by ac­ci­dent.

“I’m a pack rat, and I never throw any­thing away,” Ce­falu said of how “The Fine Art of Rock” ini­tially came about. “I had Alice Cooper’s ‘Wel­come to My Night­mare’ paint­ing, the orig­i­nal oil paint­ing that Drew Struzan did, hang­ing in my place. And this friend of mine was over, and he said to me, ‘How many of those pieces do you have?’ I said, ‘I don’t know — maybe 30, or 40.’”

The ex­change got Ce­falu think­ing and, more im­por­tant, look­ing through his house and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties. “It was like an Easter egg hunt,” he re­calls. “I searched ev­ery­where, and when I gath­ered ev­ery­thing to­gether, I ended up with about 350 pieces. I thought I had a few things; I didn’t re­al­ize I had an en­tire col­lec­tion.”

Look­ing back on the work that he and the oth­ers had done, Ce­falu was struck by just how good the craft was and how fa­mous some of the im­agery would be­come.

“At the time, when we were

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