Thursday, September 28, 2023

Marko and the Magic Magnet

First off, thanks go to Marko Reid for sending me pictures of the solo magnet show he curated in Portland Oregon.

Perfectly positioned on a Portland Oregon street.
When he posted the images, I started to think about all of the strange objects I’ve encountered in my life, whether they were at a thrift store, or in a public space. When you see something that grabs your attention, you generally try and make sense of how it got there. You fill in the gaps the best you can imagine, but you’ll never truly know. The not knowing is the excitement! My goal with this entry, is to completely ruin that excitement and describe how my magnet ended up on a Portland Oregon street.

And all the assholes ask, “How long did it take you to make that?”

I collect a lot of magnets. I think a refrigerator with well curated magnets is a happy refrigerator. You can tell a lot about a person based on the magnets on their fridge. Since I’m always curating my own permanent refrigerator magnet show and randomly making things, I decided to put the two together. Simple, collages (and other ephemera) on magnets, stick them to places, and see if others would help me move them around the world.

The backs of the pieces in this Portland collection, come from a variety of sources. One of them is a children’s block that I spray-painted and put scrabble letters on the front. There’s nothing more fun that taking apart old board games to see what you can make out of them. Another piece is simply a collage stuck to a thin magnet sheet. Two of them are those magnets you get on trips; you know the ones with a picture of Amish country on them. Yeah, I just spray-painted those different colors and in one, glued a collage to it, and in the other one, glued two pieces of a board game to them. The perfectly square magnet came from a recent trip to Scrap Exchange in Durham. They had a bunch of religious images on a magnet that I quickly made blue when I went home. The black backing is from an off brand dollar store in Thomasville North Carolina. They have a bunch of those thin pieces of wood for a $1.25 that I buy in bulk. The blue image on the far right is a description of the show, printed on blue cardstock, and then put in a premade plastic frame with magnets on the back. I found the frames in a pile of stuff in my makings room, I’m sure they came from a thrift store.

The collages themselves are made up of pieces of paper picked from all over North Carolina. Chances are much of what you see here came from the “free bin” at McKay’s in Winston-Salem. I generally focus on religious books, out of date medical books, and in the case of one collage, classical sculptures. I generally look for line drawings and poorly printed images. Sharp, deeply colored images aren’t my thing. I want what I create to look a little shitty, like it was a copy of a copy…punk flyers. I want it to look somewhat old after it’s been freshly created.

On the magnet, third from the left, you see two circular images. Both of these are stickers that I printed off on my home computer. I broke that printer this summer. One of them is a scan of a man looking down the barrel of his gun. The other image reads, “The Nice Price.” If you’ve spent any time looking through old records, you will have come across this sticker. The sticker was affixed to a lot of cut out or severely discounted records.

Over the course of many weeks, I amassed a lot of collages made of various materials. They were organized into piles of five. I tried to make sure there was some variety in each show. No street could handle an art show made up of just my face on square tiles. I had to move those around, dilute the sexiness.  I added a sheet of directions to the pile and then put them in cheese bags I collected over the course of a couple years. Don’t worry, I washed them out. From there I posted online that I was looking for people to curate these magnet shows, I took down names, and then mailed to each person who request them. Folks generously put them up in their town, sent me pictures and video, and then I posted them to my social media. To attract as much attention as possible, I shared the shows with multiple online groups.

Let the magnet hit the floor.
Marko posted images and video from the show he put up. A few days later, he followed up his initial post with the following photo. It seems that one of the magnets had been taken from the show, per the directions, and deposited on the street a couple blocks away. Someone must have taken it from its original location, walked with it a bit, and then tossed it away. Here is where I wish I had cameras set up. So often I do these sorts of projects that I know illicit a response, whether confused or amused or completely annoyed, but I never get to see them. Just knowing that they occurred makes such an endeavor worth it. Marko found the magnet in this helpless state, face down, and by public utilities. Rightfully, he took it home and put it on his well curated refrigerator. The magnet needed a rest. It had traveled a long way. 

Home on a happy fridge.
 So yeah, it took some time.


Anonymous said...

Great post,John. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary.
Glad to be a small part of your project. Cheers! MARKO

zzzzzzzz said...

You're very welcome.