Saturday, April 3, 2010

Esopus Magazine

I don't collect magazines. I have some friends who could build houses out of dog-eared stacks of them; they could clothe their kids with the blow-ins. The only magazine I have kept and actually store happily on my bookcases somewhere between Van der Elsken and Evans is Esopus - Tod Lippy's twice annual pub that delivers all of my favorite things; original art, paper ephemera, ideas, found objects, history, and each issue is loaded with the unexpected and previously unseen.

Esopus is named for a river that originates in the Catskill Mountains and supplies much of New York City with water but unlike that tributary, Esopus is not polluted with advertisements or PR driven material. Its waters are pure, unfiltered, eclectic - the ecosystem flourishing and diverse.

The first thing one notices cracking open a copy is that it seems physically full of stuff; inserts, gate folds, pop-up sculptures, separate pull-out booklets. The paper stock varies determined by the content. The design is brilliant, often using photographs of original material presenting them as objects. Each issue comes with a CD of audio material on the inside back cover as eclectically curated as the magazine itself.

In issue two William Christenberry's Ghost Form (2004) is a gatefold within which pops-up a paper sculpture of a southern barn. Issue 4 reproduces a series of 15 rejection letters from prospective employers to an inquiry from a woman named Zola C Shirley in 1930. Issue 5 has a removable poster by Richard Misrach. Issue 9 includes long excerpts from a journal kept by a man who spent 15 months in a WWII German prison camp. Issue 11 has a section of pages from the Museum of Modern Art guestbook listing visitors famous and unknown. I could go on and on but I just realized that just picking a few things to mention is a futile exercise. Each issue has on average about a dozen contributions which range so widely that I am not really doing this justice at all.

is a non-profit organization. Each issue costs far more to produce than the 14 dollars cover price and quickly you see why. The quality and inventive presentation sets the gold standard for all magazines.

Note: I realize after photographing some spreads for my composites that they are heavily weighted to the older visual paper ephemera that Esopus has featured. Keep in mind that each issue is a range of different material, much of which is contemporary projects from recent artists.