These days if a print publication is still around after 25 years, well, that's quite an accomplishment. Cleveland-based music and culture magazine, Alternative Press, started out as an underground fanzine in 1985 and has since become an internationally distributed glossy that focuses on metal, hard rock and punk music scenes.
To celebrate, the folks at AP decided to book a flight to L.A. and throw one hell of a party. Friday July 9 and Saturday July 10 mark the opening of Alternative Press' 25th anniversary art show at the Merry Karnoswky Gallery, a first-time exclusive group exhibit featuring original works by iconic (and oft controversial) musicians and visual artists. They may be different, but they're still part of the same alt-culture aesthetic.
On display will be paintings, sculpture, photography and drawings from nearly 25 artists including Adam Jones (Tool), Marilyn Manson, Tim Armstrong (Rancid), Shepard Fairey, Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Travie McCoy (Gym Class Heroes), Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio), Tara McPherson, and Shirley Manson (Garbage). Also on display will be unearthed rarities from the AP print archives.
L.A. Weekly spent the last four days interviewing a handful of the participating musicians and visual artists. We talked to Tool guitarist Adam Jones about his past creating special effects make-up for Stan Winston. Plus we discussed the fact that Jones and Steve Niles are gearing up for the launch of their new comic book series, a conceptual mashup of X-Files and 30 Days of Night, out later this month on DC Comics imprint WildStorm. Later we caught up with influential street artist Shepard Fairey to riff on the marriage of music and art, as well as punk rock influences and what Fairey calls “audio-graphic design.”
“We wanted to put together a gallery show to not only do something for our readers, but also something that our adult colleagues in the music industry would enjoy, not just a concert,” said AP publisher and art director Norman Wonderly.
He continued, “We found artists through the magazine and then also paid attention to, like, Marilyn Manson, who's been showing his art for a while and has been on the AP cover so many times. So we asked him. Then we found out that Shirley Manson dabbled so we asked her. It's so cool to find out that they have another outlet beyond music and are doing something really visual. We wanted to mix modern day musicians that we were covering in AP with musicians from our past.”
Props to AP for choosing a gallery over a deafening concert to ring-in their big 2-5. Celebrating the anniversary as an art show will actually encourage people to talk, share stories and have an audible dialog about the rare works on display.
Wonderly agrees. “Exactly, and that was really the reason to do it. Some [of the artists] we've never met. We're in Cleveland so it's nice to actually get a chance to talk to them and it not be loud and crazy. Although I have a feeling it might get loud and crazy [laughs]. It's super exciting.”
Check out more quotes from featured artists and musicians below, along with images of their work on display at AP's 25th anniversary exhibit.
Shirley Manson (Garbage) on knitting as sculpture and fortune tellers:
“Alternative Press were early believers in Garbage and played a large part in carving out a loyal following for us over the years. When they approached me about taking part in an exhibition to celebrate their 25th anniversary, it would have been exceedingly churlish to refuse. I am not a visual artist in any way, shape or form but I am a lover of the arts so I gleefully embraced the challenge of creating something. I tried to think of an opposite to “alternative” which led me to consider knitting something. I then decided to subvert the medium completely thus producing “Peking Noodle (Ode to Louise Bourgeois)”. Maybe it's an all seeing eye… fortune teller to the world, maybe it isn't. Art, as they so often say, is in the eye of the beholder!”
Travie McCoy (Gym Class Heroes) on why he loves AP:
“I wanted to be a part of the art show because I thought it would be a great opportunity to show what I do when I'm not making music or performing. Alternative Press has also been a huge supporter of Gym Class and myself. These pieces are a gift from me on their 25th B-Day.”
Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) on painting his girlfriend and Church of Satan's Anton Lavey:
“Being a part of this show is a big honor for me as it is always flattering to be asked to show something that you yourself created in such a stellar setting. The fact that it's for AP's 25th anniversary makes it even better as they have shown me a tremendous amount of support regarding both my paintings and my music. I am also honored to be sharing gallery space with heros of mine. The piece I'm showing in LA is a portrait of my girlfriend (titled “Yankee Rosie”) in her “ceremonial” satanic cloak and black rim glasses. To me it represents both her beauty and the threat of the pre-punk movement of Anton Lavey's Church of Satan at a time when it was very taboo and had a lot to do with aesthetic and color. It was my goal to capture both of these aspects in this piece and I couldn't be happier to have it involved in this show. I also did a similar piece (titled “The Doktor”) for the New York show that is of Anton Lavey himself and was created as a companion to “Yankee Rosie”). Both were done with acrylic paint and shellac along as well as collage on wood.”
Tara McPherson (artist) on relationships and the laws of physics:
“A lot of my work deals with the observation of people's relationships and the struggles that the individual encounters in their love life. Also, I have a huge fascination with astrophysics, which is fun for me to incorporate into my work. The idea behind this specific piece was to show the similarities between the macro and the micro, showing that the laws of physics that rule the behaviors of even the tiniest of particles is akin to even the most complex of human emotions shared between two people. The simplest of actions spans all levels of our being, from our emotions down to the very atoms that make up our hearts.”
Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy) on rough times in Chicago and how his piece “Hemingway” was his only friend:
“… this is my shield. I think it's common historical revision to think I moved to L.A. for odd vapid reasons. The truth was I was running away from the worst situations of my life in Chicago. This was my partner in crime. He was my only friend here at the time.”
Matt “Portland” Hay (of the band Nora, artist Sons of Nero) on Star Wars monsters, chaos and destruction:
“This piece was the album cover for the band Emanuel. Matthew, their vocalist, said he wanted to base the art around a Lamprey. After researching this, which is really creepy and almost represents the Sarlacc Pit monster in Star Wars, I wanted to do my interpretation of this disturbing creature. The idea of my piece was as if you were looking down the throat of a lamprey to see all the rows of teeth, but I wanted to take it a step further and create a gigantic, planet size creature. Looking into the heart of the planet reveals all the chaos and destruction that a lamprey would cause if it were to swallow you up, gnawing at you at each level or ring of teeth. The more you look at the piece, the more you see all that is going on — drugs, sharks, pig fetus, and all.”
The Alternative Press 25th anniversary art exhibit opens at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery with a VIP party Friday, July 9 and public opening Saturday, July 10. The entire exhibition will be on view at the gallery from July 9 — July 23.