I became aware of artist Vicki Berndt‘s gifted hand upon seeing her cover for the Clipse’s 2002 release, Lord Willin’, right. In the dreamlike vision, rappers Malice and Pusha T drive a JFK-style droptop, with a Black Jesus riding shotgun in the back seat. Delicately radiating the sobering hues of Virginia Beach dilapidation via magic realism, the work is one of my all-time favorite album covers, hip-hop or otherwise.
Born in El Centro CA in 1961, Berndt painted and took pictures of her favorite rock stars in school, printed fanzines, and even joined a punk band, the Maggots, as their lead singer. Later, she took photos of friends’ groups, eventually working for magazines.
However, she never stopped slathering the canvas, and paints full-time today, selling both reproductions and her original creations. Her series of works besainting musicians, like Little St. Richard (18 x 24 ins.), above, range from about $1,000 to about $1,600 and more, when not quickly snatched up, first. However, less costly pieces are also available, and highly desirable.
For example, check out The Keene Supremes, her three-candle set, above. The 6 x 3-inch pieces, each featuring one of the Supremes’ likenesses done in the style of Margaret Keane‘s “big-eyed children” paintings, can all be picked up for a mere $40. Why not grab an armful? If it were up to me, Berndt, like the saints and sinners she renders, would definitely be counted among pop’s true icons.