February 4, 2014

Art show re-imagines iconic album cover

A new art exhibit in Columbia shows why the cover for “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, which topped the charts in 1965, has withstood the test of time.

The cover is iconic.

A young woman wearing nothing but whipped cream stares provocatively ahead, a finger raised to her lips.

The album is “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Though it topped the charts in 1965, the music has long since faded from popularity. The cover, however, has withstood the test of time.

West Columbia resident Christopher Bickel has worked as a record dealer for about 20 years. He says during that time, he’s often come across the album – so often, in fact, that he began buying it, never paying more than a dollar each.

“The idea was to take them out of circulation,” said Bickel.

Today, he estimates his collection totals almost 500. The stack of albums is nearly as tall as he is.

“At some point I had the realization that this is stupid and that I should do something meaningful with them instead of just accumulating them,” he said.

Bickel asked an artist friend who specialized in repurposing things to transform some of the covers. One thing led to another, and soon several artists had tried their hand at re-imagining the woman in whipped cream. Bickel posted the works to Facebook, which is where they caught the eye of Jeffrey Day.

Day, a local arts writer, publicist and curator, suggested that he and Bickel commission more artists and organize an art show.

“I just like the idea of taking something like that that’s burned into our psyche, that’s pop culture history, and getting fine artists to do something with it,” said Day. “And honestly, it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun.”

The exhibition, now open, runs through Feb. 23 in the hallway gallery at 701 Whaley.

Bickel says the idea has been met with enthusiasm from the participating artists.

“Everybody has been really excited to do it. Nobody really considers it work.”

Participating artists include Thomas Crouch, Billy Guess, Lyon Forrest Hill, Jennifer Stephens Hill, Michael Krajewski, Amanda Ladymon, Eric Miller, Katie Sheridan, J. Spencer Shull and more.

So far, Bickel has only commissioned a portion of his “Whipped Cream” collection. He hopes to continue the project, possibly with an expanded art show in a different venue.

“My goal eventually would be to have every one of them repurposed, to one day have a collection of nothing but copies of that record that were altered by artists.”

Day says the artistic collaboration has led to an assortment of work that will captivate viewers of all ages, not just those who remember the album when it came out.

“They turned her into a very different sort of woman.”


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