Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Local Art Seen: Second Anniversary Minerva Zine Party at the PRØVE

Illustration by Kris Simonson
Friday evening I found myself able to attend the Second Anniversary Minerva Zine Party at the PRØVE in Downtown Duluth. The event included art, music (by The Social Disaster) and poetry, in addition to great social energy.

Minerva is the resurrection of a zine that began seven or so years ago as a college project. Though the first iteration was eventually abandoned, two years ago Laura Gapske and Lindsey Graskey revisited the idea and Minerva returned. This is not a slick high end production. It's printed on a copy machine, like my first booklets of poetry many years ago. The zine addresses women's issues in a direct and often irreverent manner. It's in your face, but exceedingly creative.

Over the past two years the zine attracted other contributions from women including JeAnne JeWell, Cleta Rose, Amy Swanoski, A.F. Bat, PalaBrazo, and Anna Kelley among others.

The prose is often comprised of pithy advice like Be Grounded, Not Weighted Down. Be A Warrior, Not A Worrier. Or Be Fearless, Not Risky.


The talented Social Disaster may have been a major draw for this predominantly younger crowd, though peppered throughout there were a few Boomers, X-ers and Y-ers taking it in, grooving on the vibe. Karen Sunderman of the PlayList was present as was UMD rhetoric professor David Beard (though he and I crept out for much of the music, as it was also loud.) We both returned for the poetry.

Gapske discusses a page from the zine.
Laura Gapske, Ava Francesca Battocchio (A F Bat in the zine) and Lindsey Graskey (who signs her artwork 2Grass) were the poets who shared.

Their poetry and the 3 minute readings at St. David's the following night were a study in contrasts. Sunday I reflected on how all the arts has undergone a transformation as it were during the past century. Now, there are no rules. Or so it seems. Anything is possible, and the artist or poet can take any form or theme or direction.

Gapske's poems became personal windows to a portion of her soul and life experience. Graskey gave her life perspective some punctuation. Battocchio's lengthy reading was called The Great Disconnect, an appeal to this generation growing up wired. Here's an excerpt:

Millennials (cringe) are a spoiled generation. As the technological revolution has provided us more options we have grown more accustomed to customization. App-thingy’s and The Facebook have altered the way we express emotion, connect and date. Finding love and forging relationships has become just as fine-tuned as everything else in our lives.
Don’t like the music on our Spotify station? Thumb it down, cut it out. Don’t like our data plan, adjust it. Don’t like how much money we make? Take out another credit card. Annoyed by the people on our Facebook feed? Hide them and then delete them.
We can pick the sex of our offspring, upgrade our tits, customize our cars, watch our movies on demand. How could we not expect our relationships to be the same?

Then comes the bomb:
The problem lies in that we are more focused on crafting the world around us to suit our desires than we are on crafting the world within us to create opportunities to manifest those desires.

Another statement by Simonson.
Time does not permit me to delve into much more here, but by the end I felt re-assured that these young people we see living in our brave new world of screens and wires has it's brain engaged, that there are deep questions they are asking about it all and they're not oblivious to the challenges of being human.

And in the case of Minerva, the challenge of being a woman at a time such as this.

In the artwork of Kris Simonson I saw this especially displayed. Witty, original, and a prod to run the race, as a woman, neither held down or held back.

Keep going, Minerva. Find your voice and let it ring.

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