Freaky Beatniks

Vintage LP art without a trace of kitsch

Remember when jazz wasn’t academic and dry? Neither do I. But Jim Flora (1914–1998) lived and thrived during the great postwar jazz boom, when LP album covers gave him the perfect canvas for his hectic, eclectic style (a visual analogue to bebop if ever there was one). To him, Dizzy and Miles supplied the perfect soundtrack for Miró, Picasso, and Klee—all of them equally zany and alive. (In an interview, he said, “If it ain’t fun, I don’t want to hear it.”) Editors Irwin Chusid and Barbara Economon will discuss Fantagraphics’ second collection of his work, The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora ($34.95), which further documents the breadth of his output and influences. After rock ’n’ roll mostly killed his career for RCA Victor and Columbia, he thrived in commercial art and even children’s books (like a hipper Dr. Seuss). But the former small-town boy from Ohio was no stranger to the macabre; he knew cubism and surrealism, and during the ’50s lived in

Mexico (land of Day of the Dead), as this new anthology dazzlingly demonstrates. The Moon Spinners provide music for the opening reception in Georgetown; the exhibit continues through Wed., Oct. 24.

Sat., Sept. 22, 6 p.m., 2007

 
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