Abe Gurvin

Abe Gurvin (Attleboro, Massachusetts, December 31, 1937 - Santa Maria, [Santa Barbara County], California, July 9, 2012) was one of the most prolific and interesting American artists, among the greatest representatives of 'psychedelic art' (which, in San Francisco, it was an evolution of 'groovy' art, and which drew inspiration from the systematic use of LSD). The news about his educational and professional training are totally absent from the websites, while his works are very well known, loved and awarded: he has designed album covers for artists such as Janis Joplin, The Zodiac, Federal Duck and Bread, but the historic series of Nuggets album covers for Elektra, represents an authentic masterpiece that sanctioned, and somehow closed, an extraordinary artistic era

Abe Gurvin's portfolio included advertising work for companies such as Toyota, Coca-Cola, Disney, Suzuki, IBM, Marantz, Scholastic, Kenwood, Time-Life Books, Sony Music, and many more. He has received awards from One Show, Communication Arts, New York Art Directors, Best of Show, LA Society of Illustrators, New York Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles Art Directors Club, Society of Publication Designers and The Belding Award.

We remember some graphic works by Abe Gurvin such as the unforgettable cover of Car & Driver of May 1968, where a psychedelic drawing had been transferred to the hood of a Porches; the collection of drawings for the Casserole Cookbook kitchen, for the Sci-Tech science fiction series and the numerous hand-drawn illustrations for an editorial project of fairy tales (still unpublished today) called I Am Being Me by Ann di Hope.

Abe Gurvin served on the board of directors of SILA (Los Angeles Society of Illustrators); in 1988 Gurvin moved to a mansion in Laguna Beach, California and later to Santa Maria where he died at the age of 74.



the only flat thing to believe is the LP record

My precious collection is clear evidence that anything can be a treasure. The most important aspect for me is not represented by the value of the articles, but by the joy that these have given me over the years.

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Dick Ellescas

Dick (Richard) Ellescas

It is disheartening to note that, within about 30 years, online search engines are predominantly dedicated to commerce or commercial references. And it's frustrating to type in Dick Ellescas's name and not find a line of biography of an artist whose posters are now valued at $ 750 to $ 2,500.

For seven years now I have been systematically searching for information on this formidable designer, and it seems that the only 'sure' clue is his teaching at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. A free download of a 1970 Art Center brochure is available on their website, where - in an absolutely incontrovertible way - the photo of Richard (Dick) Ellescas appears. Obviously it is not known if this photo is from 1970, or from a few years earlier, but what we see is a young man of about 30/35 years, and it is a clue that he should limit his date of birth between 1935 and 1940.

America is a strange nation: champion for the rights to privacy, it is full of websites that allow online surveys (at a relatively low price, about 30 euros for a month of 'surveys') on any person who is a US resident. With a few - but essential - information you can know practically everything about the person you are looking for, from his criminal record to the patrimonial report, from the number of the driving license to the fishing licenses, from the number of any children to that of any divorces. I tried to investigate Dick Ellescas, but the two little voices that followed in the chatter of my conscience told me: "But is it right that you do it? Is it right to spend 30 euros like this?". I therefore suspended the research on July 18, 2022, when I discovered that there is still an 84-year-old Richard Ellescas who lives in Los Angeles: age and place are absolutely plausible, but I don't know at all if it really is him.

But I keep wondering why an artist of such caliber (the collage of images that make up the 'home' dedicated to him testifies to how much he worked in the field of advertising graphics and the remarkable quality of his creative vein) is today completely forgotten, alive or deceased that he is. And (I wrote it at the beginning) I go back to complaining about the excessively commercial use of the prodigious means of Google, dominated by the culture of profit, earning, fast collection and not by the culture of disclosure, learning, conservation ' encyclopedic 'of humanity which becomes' collective memory'. It is a tragedy, even greater because this is a culture that is destined, in times not so distant anymore, to shrink and become extinct with considerable damage for everyone.

The style of Ellescas is a skilful mixture of Art déco (the background patterns and the elaborate frames), of Art Nouveau / Jugendstil (the portraits of the characters on the covers), of psychedelic art (the presence of multiple faces in the same artwork, surrounded by lines and bright and contrasting colors, almost 'fluo') and patchwork (extraneous elements cut from fine papers or old artwork). I am often tempted to compare Ellescas to Erté (see the cover of the album directed by Karajan with Ravel's Bolero, or the one directed by Muti with Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade), but I leave you the satisfaction of finding numerous other references to the great illustrators and designers of the first 30 years of the 20th century.

So I just have to list - in chronological order - the covers for the classical music records that Dick Ellescas made (all in Los Angeles, in the Capitol / EMI graphic studios) between 1970 and 1987, the date of his last production in this music-recording sector. It is - obviously - a work in progress: in this virtual graphic exhibition there are a few discs with the covers designed by Ellescas and which I hope - in a short time - to be able to purchase and integrate.

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