Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion, Sculpture, Installation _____________________________    91 Album Covers For 2011 Best Of 2011 Album Cover Art

Apteka - Gargoyle Days
Despite never having met one another, Portland designer Dylan McConnell and Chicago's Apteka have grown a well-fitting artistic relationship through the years. McConnell's album cover for Gargoyle Days may be their most gripping collaboration yet.

QUOTES FROM: DYLAN MCCONNELL, DESIGNER ADAM LUCAS, APTEKA'S GUITARIST AND VOCALIST THEMES & CONCEPTS "We had worked with a sorta paranoid, dark op-art theme in the past for posters and albums (with a brief interlude of lopping off girls' heads). High contrast and fluid -- that's what I was going for." - Dylan McConnell COLLABORATION "We've been working with Dylan pretty much since the band formed. He's done all our cover art, and most all of our show posters so far. Things clicked from the beginning. He just has a knack of taking what we're doing musically and expressing it in a visual way. The funniest part is that we've never really met. He lives in Portland, and we're in Chicago. A mutual friend turned us on to him, but we've never had the chance to meet in person. It's all been through email. Which is kind of a weird way to communicate artistic intentions, but somehow it works, and he’s become this mysterious fifth member of the group." - Adam Lucas Record Label Carpark Records The Artists Design - Dylan McConnell Mediums & Materials Collage, Digital, Typography (hand-drawn)

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion,...

Xhurch, a repurposed church in North Portland, has decided to take last year's live reenactment of the Nativity one step out of the terrestrial and into a more cosmic direction, with this year's Alien Nativity. See full slideshow of last year's Nativity. Last year's Nativity had the usual characters -- Mary, Joseph,...

AJ Fosik moved to Portland about a year ago, but he's been too busy to leave his studio and enjoy all the things his new home has to offer. Fosik is no stranger to working at a breakneck pace, and when I was attempting to arrange a studio visit, the only time that worked for both of us happened to be on a Saturday morning. This was less than ideal as I was down in Portland on a blitzkrieg visit in which I was attempting to cram about three months worth of old friends and bourbon into five days, and Fosik had been out the night before celebrating the purchase of a new house. Upon arriving at his tucked-away studio in the industrial hills by Forest park, we were both relieved to discover that we were on the same page in that we were both feeling... uh... slightly less than articulate.
Fosik is an affable curmudgeon who has made a very deliberate decision to not engage the art world on its typical terms. He is first and foremost a craftsman, and he puts more stock in practice than theory. While there are telltale racks of spraypaint and scattered pieces of paper in Fosik's workspace, the studio is more woodshop than anything else, and he tells me that he is self-taught. "I'm probably a bad woodworker," he shrugs and jokes self-effacingly. "Anyone who does fine woodworking would look at these and be disgusted by them."

While it is true that Fosik isn't employing the use of dovetail joints, one cannot help but feel a deep respect for the craftsmanship that goes into the construction of his statuesque pieces. Fosik's sculptures are rich testaments to the power of his obsessive curiosity. Fiercely looming eyes and wide, howling jaws rest upon psychedelic waves of carefully overlapped wooden shingles, and rearing bodies stand in mid-lunge towards the viewer. With a color palette that shares more than a passing affinity with safety paint from a construction site, Fosik's creations are anything but subtle, and they demand the full attention and involved interaction of their audience. Many of Fosik's pieces are vaguely threatening, and his compositions feature larger-than-life animistic figures wielding guns and mallets, their limbs extended to rend and tear, gaping maws set to devour. Fosik cultivated his building abilities in response to the fact that he was raised in a family with no interest in making things. "It's really weird," he says. "I have no artists in my family whatsoever... My dad can't even use a screwdriver. I was definitely one of those kids who took everything apart and destroyed everything I owned trying to figure out how it worked."

This sense of trial and error construction has clearly paid off. Fosik's pieces draw from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, and he assimilates religious iconography that nods equally to Asian deities and African tribal patterns. Fosik explains he is intentionally going for this blended effect; having no religious background himself, he has always been curious about what he sees as the absurdity of religious zealotry. His goal is to reference a diverse range of religions without evoking any particular faith, and he delights in the subsequent interpretations his viewers insist upon. While he clearly puts a great deal of thought into his work, Fosik has a perverse, Gonzo-esque refusal to talk about the ideas that inform his finished pieces. He instead prefers to discuss the religious, shamanistic overtones as part of a running joke he is playing on his viewers. "That's the whole point," he explains. "[Religion is] all a sham, but I'm being up front about it and putting it out on the table. I enjoy that aspect of it; it's the old switcheroo!"

ARTICLE CONTINUED BELOW
matt leavitt
Time permitting, Portland-based artist Matt Leavitt allows his imagination to run free by tinkering, inventing, and manipulating objects in the pursuit of fine artistic ideas. The fascination of his multi-disciplinary artwork can be found equally in the methodologies spawning them as in the finished products themselves; trial and error, as well as chance events, serve as stepping stones to reaching greater ends -- some predictable, some unpredictable. Leavitt creates with the mentality of sussing out his wildest artistic fantasies, all the while drawing equally from his knowledge in Civic Engineering and his experiences at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon. In his experimentation, he has done things many would never consider. He has attempted to make ink from flowers petals; he has thrown melted candle wax onto frozen ponds; he has created sculptures from liquid clay. His interests flow in many directions, and these divergences are present when one looks at his entire body of work. The projects he undertakes are always well-detailed within his mind; every piece of every series falls in line with subtle stylistic rules yet deviates within a larger framework.

 

The opening scene of How To Die In Oregon appears to capture the birthday celebration for an elderly member of a family. But one quickly realizes that this isn't the celebration of the continuation of life, but the celebration of a man's life -- as that man drinks a lethal...

Sometimes I'm a little bit wary about supporting the Kickstarter projects of various artists; all too often, people feel entitled to your money while giving little in return, and even less to the community at large. A new project by photographer Tyler Kohlhoff and Justin Gorman is fine by me,...

Eatcho has quit his dayjob. He's late on rent. He knows that being a full-time artist is difficult to impossible in Portland, Oregon, a town where everyone who makes your coffee, bags your groceries, or pours your beer has his or her own creative project to fund. Without a day job, making art can't possibly be a hobby; it has to pay the bills. Eatcho says it dawns on him regularly that, "[The situation] is kind of scary -- but I wouldn't want it any other way."
eatcho Mania and energy are as apparent in the man as in his work. As we sit and shout over espresso beans being ground, Eatcho sips his drink and tells me that one reason that he's able to work intensely is that he's an insomniac, averaging just four or five hours of sleep a night. This also means that, while the bedroom studio setup is constricting to a lot of artists, he prefers it. "When I get up, it's good to have my work right there," he explains. "I mean, I have that thing where I'm constantly running upstairs to put my ideas down."

Second illustrated song of the Silver Jews very last set from their very last show. All text by David Berman....