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Interview Fri Jan 11 2013

Graze Magazine and Two With Water: Making a Collective Effort

Last week we covered the opening reception of Two With Water and Graze Magazine's visual art collaborative exhibit at New Wave Cafe in Logan Square. Other local publications have contributed to the effort as well, including Another Chicago Magazine, Chicago Reader, Concepcion Books, Curbside Splendor, The Handshake, MAKE Magazine, and Regional.

Graze Event.jpgGraze Magazine co-founders Cyndi Fecher and Brian J. Solem, and Two With Water's Bobby Evers, took some time to answer my questions about the impetus for the event and what we can expect of collective efforts in the future. Next time you're in New Wave, remember, the selection of art on display represents the pooled energy of our literary community. The exhibit will be up until February 8:

CG: What drew this particular group to showcase visual art?

CEF:Two With Water and Graze wanted to do a collaborative event, and one thing our two publications had in common was visual art. Once we decided to do an exhibition of the art within the pages of our magazines, it only seemed natural to fill the walls of New Wave Coffee with art from other publications. We've amassed quite a list of participating publications, which is wonderful.

CG: Do you see this as a reflection of connections between Chicago's visual and literary art communities?

BE: Hopefully. This is an attempt to showcase the beautiful images we all depend on but don't discuss. As writers and editors we talk so much about the literary pieces in our magazines and the journals of our friends and the art is sort of the unsung hero. But what is a magazine without art and design? This is a way to celebrate our artists and let them be the stars, to thank them for letting us incorporate their lovely images into our tiny presses.

BJS: I can't speak for the broader communities, but I will say that Graze has been incredibly fortunate to receive old favorites and brand new artwork from some amazing illustrators and photographers. We're so thankful to these folks for their work, and this is a way to pay it forward and get those artists some visibility in a high-traffic, high-awesome place.

CG: Does this connect to Graze's mission?

CEF: A huge component of Graze's mission is in building community. After getting to know more literary folks at a recent pop-up book fair at the Empty Bottle, it seemed only natural to reach out. In sharing and exploring this common theme--artwork featured in independent publications--we continue to grow our audience, and connect with the other publications in Logan Square and across the city. Holding the exhibit at such a central space in the Logan Square community (and one I find myself in most mornings) was another element that felt like a natural fit for Graze.

CG: Can you talk a little about the importance you see in collaboration among local publications?

BJS: The amount and quality of Chicago-based magazines and newspapers suggests that the indie publishing industry is at least sustaining itself these days, but I think we would all be better served if we worked together more often. There's so much resource-sharing that could happen among publications -- everything from printers to writers' databases to graphic designers to retailers to event venues to critics to ... you name it. We hope that this will inspire a spirit of collaboration and relationship building among Chicago-based publishers.

BE: Without collaborating between like-minded (or even or especially different-minded) groups, the literary community is just a fractured network of disparate organizations making a few people smile. If we have the same goals and the same passions, we are stronger in numbers, and can make even more people smile. And we can inspire others. And maybe we won't change the world, but we can sure try, and maybe we will inspire someone who will.

CG: How did you select the art that is being showcased?

CEF: Since Two With Water and Graze were the host publications, we reached out to other independent publishers who feature artwork in their pages, and asked them to submit pieces for selection. After review, we chose the pieces we thought would harmonize well in the space. The original art is displayed next to a spread from the publication in which it appears, so that the viewer can experience both the original and published contexts of the pieces.

 
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