Monday, July 8, 2013

David Stone Martin: Jazz In Line and Color

© -Michael Miller/Los Angeles Times/6.23.2013, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“David Stone Martin led a period when being a record-jacket illustrator seemed like an endeavor worthy of a substantial artist."
-William Wilson, Art Critic, Los Angeles Times, 1987

 “The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention, and for Vince Gerard it ended up being the mother of a new gallery in one of Southern California's artiest areas.

The founder of Jazzartz got the idea for his project when he went shopping for fine-art prints of work by David Stone Martin, who designed more than 400 album covers for Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz and others. Gerard was unable to find any, though, so he began creating them himself— buying albums on eBay, contacting the artist's estate and making digital replicas of original works.

"The thing about David is, he's by far the most highly collected album cover artist in the world," Gerard said. "People collect him all over the world, especially in Europe and Asia, where there are huge jazz fans. But no one's ever seen his art beyond the album-cover size."

Until now, perhaps. Jazzartz, which opened in spring in Laguna Beach, CA sports dozens of prints of Martin's work around its compact space, with many of the original albums propped against the wall below the replicated images. Upstairs is Gerard's print room. Each of the works on display is part of a limited-edition series, and any customer who orders one will receive a new copy — even with alterations, as Gerard is happy to adjust color schemes or superimpose personal messages.

The show, scheduled to run through Sept. 15, is Jazzartz's first exhibition and also cele­brates a milestone: Martin, who died in 1992, would have turned 100 this year.

His images are often minimalist, with fig­ures depicted in spare ink strokes and two or three colors that wash over the outlines. In a 1987 appreciation, Times art critic William Wilson wrote that Martin "led a period when being a record-jacket illustrator seemed like an endeavor worthy of a substantial artist."

Bridget R. Cooks, an art history and African American studies professor at UC Irvine, said the loose interplay between line and color in Martin's images evokes the feel of the music itself. "It's not a kind of meticulous, measured and regulated sort of stroke," said Cooks, who plans to touch on jazz album cover art in her next book. "There's a kind of ease that goes with the technique of painting in this way."

Due to the considerable interest, Gerard is considering expansion, to Palm Springs. "Peo­ple come here from San Francisco and Los Angeles," Gerard said. "Every weekend, there will be a couple dozen people who come to look at the stuff and make purchases. They actually make special trips. Jazz fans are loyal fans."


  1. Doing as requested:
    ...type in a few words and then hit "publish"...


  2. Great info...thanks Steve..

  3. I dropped by Vincent Gerard's gallery space a few weeks ago after seeing a write up in the local paper. It was not open and when Gerard returned my call he explained that the space is more of a studio work space than gallery.

    I do plan to visit again, calling ahead of time to be certain it will open. The large scale reproductions of DSM's work have to be experienced in person, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with only my peek through the window of the studio/gallery.

    Jim Harrod

  4. Sounds to me like a 'Must See' when we're next in Southern California - perhaps October 2013 when we're there for the LA Institute event - maybe Vincent Gerard should have a display at the Marriott LAX to draw attention to his offerings ?

    Gordon Sapsed ( in England)

  5. My first ever Basie LP I ever bought with my own money(Five Shillings per week"now 25 new pence" on hire purchase) was the release with Joe Williams sings, mainly because of the extraordinary cover.Thanks David & Steve.
    John Pinder


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