A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine - Exhibitions

A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine

February 15–May 12, 2024

Davis Gallery

Published for fifteen years, from 2003 to 2018, and documented in a comprehensive archive held by the Colby College Libraries Special Collections, the celebrated alternative arts magazine Esopus remains “a thing of lavish, eccentric beauty.” Artist and Esopus contributor Kerry James Marshall heralded the periodical as “the best and most extravagant platform for artists’ projects that I knew of. There seemed to be no restrictions on what it was willing to do, and the results were of the highest quality.”

The exhibition A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine presents archival materials and original artworks associated with the abundant publication. It includes audio and video artifacts, photographs of studio visits and press runs, handwritten notes and diagrams, email exchanges, issue mockups, printers’ proofs, and artists’ notes. These are contextualized by select loaned and commissioned works. The show offers a behind-the-scenes vantagepoint on an innovative magazine committed to providing an unfiltered, unmediated (ad-free) experience of pure creative expression.

Esopus’s unique archive is filled with art, photography, literature, music, history, and popular culture. The publication featured contemporary artists’ projects by both established and emerging figures such as William Christenberry, Mary Lum, Alex Masket, Mickalene Thomas, and Richard Tuttle. It presented personal reflections by creative practitioners, for instance novelist Karl Ove Knausgård and theatrical lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, alongside short plays, visual essays, film excerpts, poetry, and fiction. Each of the twenty-five issues concluded with a themed audio compilation of new songs by genre-spanning musicians.

An image of a stack of Esopus Magazines on a white background

Copies of Esopus Magazine

Esopus also connected with, and involved, readers through “subscriber invitationals,” in which people were asked to submit content that was then used as source material for contributors. For instance, in Esopus 4, readers were invited to send in descriptions of their childhood imaginary friends, which then inspired songs by musical acts such as Low and Kimya Dawson (available to listen to in the exhibition).

A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine will encourage a similar level of engagement with its audience by making available all issues of the magazine and other Esopus publications for perusal; visitors can complete and use “Esopus Picks” bookmarks to indicate their favorite contributions. There will also be a range of materials related to the magazine’s exhibition venue, Esopus Space (2009–12); and a hammock––commissioned from Esopus contributor Paolo Arao and Gregory Beson––will help to turn the Davis Gallery alcove into a relaxing space that evokes the publication’s namesake, the Esopus Creek in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The creek will be depicted in an animated projection commissioned from Esopus contributors Hinterland Studios. A number of related events, from magazine-making workshops to film screenings, will take place on campus and in downtown Waterville throughout the run of the exhibition.

A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine is accompanied by a special edition of the publication. The exhibition is co-curated by Tod Lippy, Esopus founder and sole editor, and Megan Carey, Barbara Alfond Director of Exhibitions and Publications at the Colby Museum of Art. Colby professors Gary Green and Gianluca Rizzo serve as faculty advisors.