Friday, March 1, 2013

On Exhibit: Mineshaft #28

Reading the average issue of Mineshaft is like going on a particularly well-curated art walk in a culturally refined small city. Going from one page to the next, one never knows if they're going to be encountering an interesting poem, some startling illustration work, some thought-provoking photography, an interesting comic or something else altogether. Editors Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri continue to unearth local and forgotten culture from every end of the earth, sprinkling in the works of underground and alternative cartoonists with a variety of other material. For example, the issue leads off with photographs of both the works and the installation sites for the guerrilla photography project CorpusTrip. The reader is immediately confronted with the image of a naked, weatherbeaten woman with a cigarette defiantly dangling from her lips. It's an astounding image, one of many from this project that put atypical models in decrepit spaces, and then put the final product in even more unlikely spaces, like on the back of a a garbage truck.

Everything feels especially sharp in this issue. The poems from Adelle Stripe, J.R. Helton and Andrei Codrescu are all vividly detailed and even visceral. The charcoal drawings by Billy Childish are amazing, as their wavy lines evoke powerful feelings, especially the one depicting the death of a man in the snow. The Brad Barrett photo essay of late 60s San Diego is fascinating in the way it juxtaposes sleazy strip clubs and small shops with the elderly citizenry sitting at nearby bus stops. In terms of comics content, there are a few pages from Aleksandar Zograf and Pat Moriarty that are amusing anecdotes/rants but not what I would call major work. On the other hand, the Christoph Mueller strip "The Mighty Millborough" is a triumph of design, humor and sheer drawing ability. His work is a sort of synthesis of Chris Ware and Robert Crumb, delving deeply into the id in a crisp, orderly and clean fashion. And of course, the Robert & Aline Crumb jam at the end of the issue, which turns out to be a deleted section of the R.Crumb Handbook, is a typically funny account of the way these two talk to each other, this time in the context of Aline giving a suggested workout routine for cartoonists. Finally, David Collier advertises his folksy, meticulously-drawn stories about life in Canada with a folksy, entertaining comic. Mineshaft continues to be one of the last great bastions for sharing both high and low culture in zine form, focusing on what is local across the world. Mineshaft seeks a true cross-pollination of cultural ideas rather than a media-backed form of cultural imperialism that strangles local culture. I admire its editors for continuing to publish in the face of limited resources.

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