Artist Brings Beastie Boys "Licensed to Ill" Plane to Life by Steve Saldivar

Music shapes who we are. Beats have a way of lingering long past their due date. It's something you internalize until you're at a party and Snoop Dog's Gin and Juice blasts from the speakers and— all of a sudden, everyone welcomes 1993 with open arms.

We all have a soundtrack but artist Eduardo Gomez takes it to even greater heights.

The 40-inch tribute to the Beastie Boys and their 1986 "Licensed to Ill" album is part of Ill Communication, a solo exhibition at Espacio 1839 where album covers come to glorious life. 

Gomez, a DJ with his brother in Lincoln Heights, doesn't stray too far for musical inspiration. His record collection provided the models for the artworks in the show. The Smiths (his favorite band), Los Angeles Negros, and the Beastie Boys' albums are all reimagined in the show. 

"The cover is already a drawing," says the artist from Long Beach of License to Ill. "I wanted to recreate it the best I could in three-dimensional form."

Created from cardboard, newspaper, and a touch of Elmer's glue, the Boeing 747 was less heavy metal and more papier-mâché.  "It's a pinata, if you think about it," says Gomez. A closer inspection on the plane's engines reveal their former lives as toilet paper rolls. 

Showcasing pieces that are drawn, sculpted and painted, Gomez flexes more than a few artistic muscles. "I tend to get bored pretty easily," he says. "I try to find different ways, it keeps it exciting for me." 

Nostalgia runs strong throughout the show, something Gomez experienced while making the piece. The Long Beach artist hadn't been to a hobby store in 20-years, but found himself frequenting them looking for light kits to finish the piece.

"Model cars, airplanes, remote control cars, I remember going to hobby shops as a kid. It kind of took me back," says Gomez. "it's kind of a trip." 

In the age of streaming, the tangible album booklet is quickly disappearing, and with it, the appreciation for the artful album cover.

"Now as a record collector and DJ, I appreciate it," says Gomez. "People forget about the artwork itself and the tangibiity of holding an album cover, bringing out the sleeves; all that is art."  Some of that, the artists points out, still appreciated by vinyl collectors. 

"These covers were dear to me," says Gomez, who was six-years-old when Licensed to Ill debuted. 

Gomez's personal exploration of eclectic music from his childhood might prove fertile ground for younger listeners who are coming to it with fresh ears, ready for takeoff. 

Ill Communication is at Espacio 1839 until Sunday, September 7.