It sounds perverse, but failure can be a welcome motivator. When you're molding your masterpiece, it's rarely the success at the end of the road that drives you. It's the potential blown-tire-flip-over-median-and-tumble-over-cliff-on-the-way-there that keeps you going.
So when I saw that the theme of semigloss. Issue 3 was failure, I empathized with founder and editor-in-chief, Sally Glass, and her need to face it head-on, in the public forum and with one's readership. I can relate to Glass well because I fill the same role for my own arts and culture micro-publication, THRWD Magazine. The specter of failure can be paralyzing, and it can be as simple as a misspelled name or comma splice.
But that's what you sign up for when you pour your heart, soul and sometimes pocketbook into a labor of love that requires more labor than love. Glass tackled this theme head on by asking 10 writers and artists to contemplate failure, then use the theme for pieces for her newest issue, which was released Saturday evening at That That studio in Exposition Park.
Glass addresses her own failures in the editor's letter, where she laments the struggles she encountered in trying challenging new printing methods.
"I envisioned complementing this juicy content with an equally compelling formal concept, which would have entailed utilizing not only unconventional materials, but very expensive and difficult printing processes as well," she writes. "I felt stuck. It wasn't until I finally accepted that I might need to abandon this direction for another that I was reminded that the collected works within are wholly sufficient to communicate the desired intention of this issue, negating any needs for extraneous bells and whistles."
Glass says the magazine, intended to be a gallery in print, has evolved over the course of its first three issues. "For the first, I posted a call for submissions. I selected the second issue's contributors based on a combination of submissions and several people that I addressed specifically to propose something. The most recent issue was more of a curatorial process, during which I made a list of artists or writers that I felt would either have interest in, or whose work already dealt with concepts or practices related to the focus of the issue in question."
Bradly Brown of HOMECOMING! Committee serves as the magazine's designer. His piece, "Diamond Crash," is laid out beneath Glass' editorial, and he said the usage of frosted vellum, a transparent paper for Margaret Meehan's "Julia Pastrana, 1834-1860 (2013)" was "a little tricky but I think it worked out well. I think frosted vellum is a perfect representation of failure."
Brown became involved when fellow HOMECOMING! Committee member Gregory Ruppe introduced him to Glass when she was looking for a designer for the magazine.
"I told her I could help and it just evolved from there," he says. "I didn't really know what I was getting into, but I'm super happy that it has all worked out."
The idea of the magazine serving as a gallery is something Brown says he and Glass planned for.
"It's evolving every issue," he says. "This idea of it being a gallery in a print format has been in the conversation since the beginning. That's one reason there aren't any ads." Brown isn't against advertising in print, he just feels his project isn't at a place where it's necessary.
"We are so small right now I feel like we can get away with it," he says. "And it's not about selling out. I've never cared about that, really. If someone wants to give me money to do what I want to do, then I'm all about it, but since we don't have to do it right now, I'd rather not deal with clients."
Glass objects to advertising because she doesn't see her publication as a static media outlet.
"I am incredibly resistant to advertising, mainly because I don't see semigloss. as a traditional print magazine. I see it as an art object. I don't like to mix advertising with art, and do not see myself doing so in the near future, unless it's with critical intent."
For Issue 3, Glass turned to artists she thought would bring something interesting to say or show. Contributors include The Art Foundation; HOMECOMING! Committee members Gregory Ruppe, Kris Pierce and Ryan Goolsby; artist Margaret Meehan; instructor and writer Robin Myrick; and Jeff Zilm, whose piece, a long role-playing-style walk-through text, Bradly and Glass felt would work well as the cover.
"For some reason Sally and I both wanted to use this slightly offensive pink for the cover," he says. "I like how it interferes with the green and the blue. The color of Jeff's piece changed several times, but I think it is a good way to talk about failure, as is the RPG language of Jeff's piece."
There are critical essays by curator Aja Martin on race, "Not A Complete Failure: Notes on the Arts and Race in Dallas" and by curator Noah Simblist, "Failed States," a meditation on the ideas of German Jewish political philosopher, Hannah Arendt, as well as a time-traveling interview with Herman Melville by Christina Rees, for which Bradly duplicated the interview layout from The New York Times Magazine and "created the first ever full-body shot of Melville."
The weight and measure with which Glass handles each issue, especially this one, seems to stand in stark contrast to any semblance of failure. But as readers we only see the finished product, bend its corners with our fingers and proclaim victory. It's hard not to, as semigloss. speaks louder than other critical sources without raising its voice. And its unique placement as both exhibit and gallery allows it to serve its community as a living, breathing testament to the beautiful failures of the artists, writers and curators of here and now.
That bittersweet duality isn't lost on Glass.
"The entire process of producing this issue was a true example of life imitating art. It's laughable, actually, how many things went wrong trying to get this thing finished. That said, I'm absolutely thrilled with how it turned out and am incredibly proud of all the work and people involved in making this issue of semigloss. happen."
For more info, visit www.facebook.com/semigloss.mag You can purchase semigloss. for $10 at these locations:
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