Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!

Utopian Dreams at Fruitlands Museum

The Fruitlands Farmhouse in Harvard, Mass.

So proud to have my letterpress work displayed at an exhibition at The Fruitlands Museum. Fruitlands was the site of Bronson Alcott’s 19th century utopian community, and the show Recruiting for Utopia: Print and the Imagination explores past and present examples of “the capacity of print and the schematic imagination to build community.” For over a decade, I have been creating hand-laid paper printed objects to give away at the annual Black Mountain College conference conducted by the BMCM+AC. Shana Dumont Garr, curator at Fruitlands and former Program Director at Artspace in Raleigh, received a couple of these at the conference and learned of my tradition. She asked to display these items for the show. The museum purchased all the available items I sent, and now  is collecting my mail art pieces!

Below is the Wayside Gallery, a large Fruitlands outbuilding which hosts the exhibit.The pictures zoom in a bit to show my pieces, with the Anni Albers Red Meander and Ted Pope’s blue broadside reasonably visible. The show now runs through March 21, 2021.

My photo below shows the collection of of conference handouts involved. I make about 50 and give away to the visiting scholars and the conference regulars that provide most of my friends in my retirement town.Click on the phrases to read about these pieces. Fish by Ted Pope, Harper Lee bookmark(BMC Museum workshop), Red Meander, Cut-up, Jacob Lawrence, John Dewey on reason.

The larger show in which my pieces take part is a fascinating duel show with a historical collection and a contemporary collection of visual artifacts.  Shana Dumont Garr, curator at Fruitlands, explained the overall premise of the exhibit: “To look at New England in two specific time periods: the 1840s and 2019-2020. And to explore how print and design helped express peoples’ worries and their desires to make the world a better place.”  There is a local feature article here. I hope to make it to the show to see printing from the time of my favorite Transcendentalists, and see some creativity from my fellow artists in the show.

Black Mountain College posts on Raleigh Rambles

October 21, 2020 Posted by | art, Black Mountain, literary | , , , | Leave a comment

Plague Daze Zine Features in Asheville Zine Fest Exchange

September 20th, 2020 marks the scheduled day for the Asheville Zine Fest, a long standing venue for the numerous micro-publishers in Asheville as well as zinsters across the state. The Paper Plant was set to participate, and I was very excited to network with other publishers and display the Paper Plant catalog at The Center for Craft in downtown Asheville. Alas, the event was cancelled but then replaced by a wonderful idea: a zine exchange among the publishers. That motivation pushed me to one last version of Plague Daze, the May 2020 mail art project that I also had converted to poster form for a mail art show at The Flood Gallery in Black Mountain. Above is the zine I created along with a spread of the zines I received in the exchange.

The packet I received contained a predictably wild variety of graphic designs and content. The organizers used the now-closed Asheville Bookworks as headquarters, and Laurie Corral, Jessica Smith and Mica Mead and Colin Sutherland of Woolly Press,  a west Asheville publisher and risograph shop, worked to make this happen. I enjoyed all the entries, particularly Laurie’s risograph project “Forager’s Favorites,” and a wonderful textless mini-comic by Carrboro artist Julia Gootzeit called “B-Sides.”

I enjoyed all the entries and hope to meet many of the publishers in person at next year’s Zine Fest. A dominant theme in the collection above is risograph work, which was new to me until I discovered Woolly Press a while back. To quote the School of Design at the University of Illinois,

The Risograph is a stencil duplicator. Think of it as a cross
between screen printing and photocopying. The Riso prints
one color at a time in bright, vibrant colors. It is ideal for
posters, graphic prints, zines, comics, and other graphic arts.

Each color requires a separate print run. The colors are like strong watercolor tones, and I like the effect very much. Asheville is a hot scene for alternative arts, and zines and fine art printing are no exception! Below is a description of the rather laborious process used for my own contribution.

Plague Daze started as a mail art project sent out on May 1, 2020. Rubber stamping was the primary means of making images, with collaging of hand-laid paper some monoprinted and marbled. The poster version I created featured a collage and marbled version of the “40 days” concept from the mail art piece. That image, along with the art of guest artists, was color photocopied and then cut out and glued on to the background pages. Those pages are my secret ingredient for this zine. In printing covers for my book, The Natural History of Raleigh,” I set aside a ream of 11×17 copier paper to use in clean-up. The excess ink was removed with these, leaving strategic marks of the curved platen, the brayer marks, and various accidents of the cleaning motions. I collected over 200 of these and when the call for a zine came, I knew these were the perfect background for some pandemic content! Enjoy the contents of my zine below, and be safe!

Connie Bostic is a founder of the River Arts District in Asheville, and a leading figure in the Black Mountain College Museum community.

You may recall that Mary’s booklet, reproduced and stapled into the middle of the zine, was featured, along with the Anna Weaver poem below, in a post here. (full size scans).

Bonniediva is a mail artist with whom I came into contact through a national mail art organization.

Sure honored to have this set of zine publications for the Paper Plant archive of zines and other alternative art and publishing from the 1980’s.

September 20, 2020 Posted by | art, literary, mail art | , , , | Leave a comment

A Pair of Gems Emerge from Pandemonium

 

Two friends sent creative responses to Plague Daze, my mail art project of May 1. Mary Hill sent an exquisite collage folder, and Anna Weaver sent an original poem responding to the ideas in my mail art. These pieces arrived the same day, and immediately my gratefulness turned to amazement, because my shared message of thanks introduced them, and each has a strong connection to 309 W. Martin Street in Raleigh, home of The Paper Plant.

 

 

 

Mary, a papermaker and collage/assemblage artist, moved from Artspace to The Paper Plant’s new artist rental space and it was a wonderful experience to share space with her. We became like family after being close neighbors in Oakwood. I love this piece so much.

 

 

 

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I met Anna Weaver by attending (and being the week’s winner of!) her open mike in downtown Raleigh, which is called Tongue & Groove. It now takes place in VAE’s space at 309 W. Martin – the site of The Paper Plant! She is a true performance poet, and therefore she and her work are dear to my heart. Enjoy her poem!

 

 

Anna is working on a fantastic project – a seasoned emcee, she is working on participating in open mikes in all fifty states. You can find out all about it at Open Mike Tourist.

This mail art gig rocks at present. Showered with beauty. Stay safe!

mail art at Raleigh Rambles

May 22, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art, Raleigh downtown | , , , | 1 Comment

Plague Daze – Mailing Out Some Love

Below are images of my mail art project (edition of 50) sent May 1 2020

back of folder (legal size folded into fourths)

Here’s to mail art in the new world!

JDJ 257 Baird Cove Rd. Asheville, NC 28804

Mail art on Raleigh Rambles

May 4, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art, reflection | | 1 Comment

Mail Art Response Provides Pandemic Panacea

Recently received mail art includes responses to Charts of the Universe 2020

We are extremely lucky, thus far at least, to be in our little mountain cove far from the hotspots during the trying times of Spring 2020. Just as the news got really bad, I was in the midst of mailing out a major project – Charts of the Universe 2020. Suddenly mail art seemed like a really good idea, and actually made the news, described as “a charming trend” on artnet.com. I got several nice responses to my Charts project, including some wonderful mail art pieces to add to my large collection.

Anna Podris created the image above as the centerpiece of her tri-fold mail art. Anna’s design responded directly to the Charts format, but I find the bird to be a perfect specimen of her own style, evoking her wonderful story-telling encaustics.

Anna Podris mail art object

Orvokki Crosby sent a wonderful mail art folder created from what appears to be a long dust jacket with many labor intensive additions, all textured with meticulous marker highlights. She is a big fan of snail mail and, like myself and many others, hopes mail art remains viable (along with the Postal Service that allows it to exist!)

Orvokki Crosby’s mailing from front

The mail art pictured at the top of the post features several postcards from Connie Bostic, a beloved Asheville artist and pillar of the BMC scene there, as well as John Justice, a new writer friend who says he is inspired by the mail art he has received. The “Quing” postcard is from Richard C, who curated the 1976 Ray Johnson mail art exhibit that got me started with mail art in the first place. Richard is going strong with mail art, and so am I. Maybe in the slightly new world in which we find ourselves, others too will see the value in this populist and irrepressible art form.

All Raleigh Rambles posts on mail art

May 2, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art | , , , | Leave a comment