Opening Night: Johan Kugelberg's Enjoy the Experience

Last night, Milk Gallery opened its doors to the latest exhibit, curated by Johan Kugelberg, “ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE, HOMEMADE RECORDS 1958-1992.” His project, a coffee-table-book-turned-gallery-exhibit, will display a collection of 2,500 uncovered homemade album art from July 9th–July 24th. You will not want to miss stopping by this exhibit, especially if you couldn’t make it out to last night’s gallery opening.

As guests walked through Milk Gallery’s glass doors and into the space, they were immediately greeted with album covers plastered 6X6 onto the white walls. While some stopped to read Kugelberg’s introductory statement about this project and curation, including a comment from friend and guitarist Paul Major of Endless Boogie, who would later perform, “You extend out and you make a little movie in your mind about these people that you get from just the sound and the few images or the look of the cover,” others went straight to discover the album art and who these musicians were for themselves.

The crowd expands, yet it becomes more personable. From one end of the gallery space to the other end, you can hear non-stop conversing because these records’ homemade album art, humor and irony included, ultimately make you wonder: What happened to these musicians and their music? Where did they go? I walked by one cocktail table surrounded by men, most likely in their 60s or 70s, discussing the obscurity and beauty of these album covers. One, claiming to be an expert on album cover art, mentioned that tonight proved how albums are truly beginning to be recognized as works of art.

Over on the far side of Milk Gallery, stock LP covers, or “generic sleeves,” were displayed to emphasize and educate how these various album art options were provided for musicians interested in pressing their own record. Jim Keyser, from Century Records, advocated album cover art’s importance to be visually stimulating. Now despite Keyser’s belief, “…it has been found that the eye-appeal of the records jacket accounts for about 50% of all sales,” the majority of Generation X present last night were visually stimulated 100%, snapping Instagram-worthy photos of this album cover art collection. And what a collection–minimal covers, Art Deco-inspired covers, psychedelic covers, DIY (watercolored) covers and humorous covers, such as Instant Weekend’s picture of a motel sign that read, “$10 Couple Motel.” This eclectic collection echoed the eclectic attendees who came out last night.

Yet no matter your age (yes, there were men with walkers and canes attending) or if you were an avid fan of psychedelic, funk, folk, jazz or lounge boogie music, whoever showed up to Enjoy the Experience absolutely did when Bud Benderbe performed a solo set of Velvet Underground and Paul Major, with Endless Boogie, played like we were all thrown back to the 1960s and 1970s, decades when this music was truly lived and breathed. Watching men, with long, shaggy hair, and their women feel the music take over their bodies, you could bet that last night was a return home–to the days when they jammed–for them, and it reminded the rest of us that this truly American music is living on, being recognized and being appreciated.

In you case you missed last night, you still have time to check out Johan Kugelberg’s “Enjoy the Experience, Homemade Records 1952-1992” at Milk Gallery until July 24, 2013. You can also check out for one-of-a-kind merchandise: Kugelberg’s coffee table book (poster, 7” vinyl and slipcase included), a 24-track double CD, a 20-track double LP or a T-shirt.

Milk Gallery is located at 450 West 15th Street, New York, NY.

Photos By: Masha Maltsava

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