The album covers Cal Schenkel designed in the ’60s and ’70s may not be as iconic as, say, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But they’re close, and arguably stand as far better art. Among then: Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, Nighthawks at the Diner by Tom Waits, and We’re Only in it for the Money by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
Born in Philadelphia, Schenkel relocated to the West Coast and began his career as a freelance designer with a specialty in album cover art after only a year at the Philadelphia College of Art. He had a hand in many of Zappa’s best-known cover images—others include Uncle Meat, Hot Rats, and Just Another Band from L.A.—but in recent years has been working more as a painter and print-maker, showing his work internationally.
That work will be on display at the Firecat Projects gallery at 2124 N. Damen, starting today through Aug. 20. Schenkel will chat about his art with WBEZ at 3 p.m. on The Afternoon Shift, and he will attend the opening of the gallery show this evening.
Also worth noting this weekend: Tony Allen, one of the most amazing drummers in any genre, will conduct an all-ages master class courtesy of Chicago Afrobeat Project at Reggie’s from noon to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. (He’ll also be back at the venue on Aug. 1 for a concert with the Impala Sound Champions and Ted Sirota's Heavyweight Dub.)
Tickets are $49, a small price to pay for learning at the hands of a master who’s performed with Fela Kuti, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Damon Albarn, among many others.