If you wander into Optera Creative (5 N. Jackson St.) you’ll find walls filled with the familiar: album covers you’ve glimpsed for years, some for all your life, but with a twist. Their themes orbit a city at the head of a wide, Alabama bay.
The local chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts has boosted its profile with a locally oriented contest. The nonprofit challenged all comers to take familiar albums and reimagine them with a Mobile orientation.
“We were very loose with the rules,” AIGA Events Coordinator Katie Vogtner said. “One of the artists who submitted a few, Megan Cary, is our AIGA president. She teaches at the University of Mobile and got some of her students to do some, so some were professional, some student work, kind of a mix.”
Installed on Nov. 9, Vogtner said the reaction to AIGA’s first-ever LoDa Artwalk event was very good. The upbeat response might guarantee even more participation next time.
The columnist typing these words was enlisted as sole judge for the competition. The results were as follows:
• First Place: Steven McNider’s Mob Town “Celebration” inspired by Madonna’s “Celebration” album. Its rendering, design and idea implementing the stylized face of Wayne Dean’s Chief Slac were flawless.
• Second Place: Chris Graham’s Mobile “Wish You Were Here,” inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” album. Graham took the handshaking pair from the original album and set The Temple downtown as their background. The fact one man was in flames seemed a subtly humorous comment on our summers.
• Third Place: Jacob Burkhardt’s Sandy Stimpson “Mobile” inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. The sight of the Mobile mayor luxuriating in natty white attire was well rendered. While the angle of Stimpson’s integrated head has the tiniest perspective issue juxtaposed with Jackson’s body, the sight of the tiger cub clambering over him was too hilarious to resist.
Honorable mention went to Vogtner for her Mobile “Holiday Inn Yankee Foxtrot” (from Wilco’s “Hotel Yankee Foxtrot”) and her Sandy “Nothing But the Best” (Frank Sinatra “Nothing But the Best”), Julianne Patterson’s Sandy Stimpson “Welcome to Mobile” (Dave Barnes, “Carry On, San Vincente”), Gin Mathers’ The Boors “Bama Motel” (The Doors, “Morrison Hotel”) and Cary’s Steve Nodine “Aladdin Sane” (David Bowie, “Aladdin Sane”).
Other pieces incorporated albums from artists such as Green Day, Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Josh Groban, Fleetwood Mac, Freddie Mercury and Simon and Garfunkel.
“I just did a Google image search for album covers and scrolled through until I found something that inspired me. Like that Wilco one, I just thought about the Holiday Inn hotel for that,” Vogtner said.
She said the Sinatra album jumped out at her due to her fondness for Stimpson’s performance as the city’s chief executive.
“This is our first go at this so I’d like to say maybe we could do this again next year, maybe change up somehow,” Vogtner said. An idea for movie posters wasn’t ruled out.
The show will be in place at Optera through November.