This weekend, MOCA Cleveland hosts Northeast Ohio's first ever Mimeo Revolution. This three-day event — which includes an artist book and 'zine fair, performances and discussions — celebrates the independent spirit of Cleveland and the artists and writers whose voices are carrying it forward.
"In the 1960s and '70s, mimeographs made quick, cheap printing accessible to poets and writers, making it possible to self-publish the experimental and underground work ignored by mainstream literary magazines," recounts Deidre McPherson, MOCA Cleveland curator of public programs. "JS Makkos, a printmaker, publisher, and curator of Nola DNA, a historic archive of some 30,000 New Orleans newspapers, will be at the 'zine fair with a pop-up exhibition with actual mimeographs, several of which will be operating."
Mimeo Revolution is curated by John Greiner (aka John G.) and TR Ericsson. Greiner co-created the comic book Lake Erie Monster with Jake Kelly, and is the founder of Genghis Con, the region's most successful small print and independent comic convention. All of this weekend's exhibiting comic artists were personally selected by Greiner. Ericsson's critically acclaimed Crackle and Drag exhibition recently ended its more than three-month run at Transformer Station. The exhibition included a box set of 'zines created by Ericsson using his family's archived photos and keepsakes.
"I've been thinking about doing an artist book and 'zine fair in Cleveland modeled after the MoMa PS 1 Artist Book Fair organized by Printed Matter in NYC and now in L.A. too," Ericsson explains. "I wanted to see if it would be possible to do something like that in Cleveland on a smaller scale and then just see how the community received it. See who came forward, find out what young people who weren't really a part of any established local art community were doing. And I now know they're there. There are so many incredible young artists working in Cleveland right now and just quietly doing their thing while holding down odd jobs or doing whatever they can to get by. I love the idea that the fair would provide, in even some small measure, a platform for these artists."
Exhibitors in the Artist Book and 'Zine Fair include participants from New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and more.
"This is a perfect example of the spirit behind independent publishers," continues Ericsson. "It's not about the money, it's about communicating something to the world, something intimate or thoughtful, or simply a beautiful fleeting image. It's about doing something, contributing something, having a voice, preserving something, sharing something, inspiring someone or yourself. And you can do all that with just a few bucks and a copy machine."
The weekend starts this Thursday evening with the Beat Uptown from 6 to 9 p.m. The program includes live music from Obnox and Archie and the Bunkers.
Additionally, guests will be able to tour the Artist Book and 'Zine Fair and view image word song, a multimedia presentation exploring the expression of language through video, performance and songwriting. MOCA's curatorial assistant Elena Harvey Collins has organized image word song in MOCA Cleveland's third-floor Marjorie and Anselm Talalay Classroom. Image word song remains on view throughout the weekend.
Friday's schedule includes drop-in tours of MOCA's Summer 2015 exhibition, How to Remain Human. From 1 to 3 p.m., Lake Erie Ink presents The Power of Ink, a poetry workshop. From 7:30 to 9 p.m., TR Ericsson moderates a panel discussion, Zines, Comix and Photo Books, with Derf Backderf, Joseph S. Makkos and Caitie Moore.
Afterwards, the Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern hosts a party featuring singer/songwriter Bill Fox at 10 p.m.
On Saturday, guests can view the Art Book and 'Zine Fair and image word song from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 1 p.m., Lake Erie Ink hosts an hour-long Power of Ink poetry workshop. Internationally award-winning cartoonist Derf Backderf hosts Indie Comix and Graphic Novels, a talk and book signing from 3 to 5 p.m. Pages from Derf's upcoming graphic novel, Trashed, are currently in How to Remain Human.
At 7:30 p.m., R.A. Washington (owner and co-founder of Guide to Kulchur) presents Rhythm and Resistance, a spoken-word performance inspired by the DIY spirit of prolific Cleveland poet d.a. levy (1942-1968), whose work is not only featured in How to Remain Human, but whose piece, "Suburban Monastery Death Poem," inspired the exhibition's title as well.
"The Rhythm and Resistance reading is a unique blend of new and veteran voices that symbolize d.a. levy's commitment to marginal voices, underground publishing and social justice," explains Washington. The event showcases original work by John Dorsey, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Veronica Hopkins, Julie Ezelle Patton, Zena Smith, RA Washington and DL Woure. The program is $8 or free with museum admission.
To wrap things up, Cleveland Heights' Grog Shop hosts an after party at 10 p.m.
Mimeo Revolution takes place Thursday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 9 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 28, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturday, Aug. 29, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Artist Book and 'Zine Fair is free, but fees for individual programs may vary.