The Hard Fifty Farm Zine Mobile will be a traveling zine gallery and shop with an exhibition of more than 1,200 literary and visual arts zines. The collection, curated by Pioneers Press owner Jessie Christian and her partner Thaddeus Christian, contains an expansive variety of zines and handmade publications, which cover a range of subjects including: artist books; street art/stencil graffiti; photography; comics/graphic novels; socially-engaged printmaking; autobiography; travel; and cruelty-free and DIY lifestyles. These publications are almost entirely hand-crafted, using methods such as woodcut, letterpress, screen-printing, collage art, photocopying and offset press printing. Each publication in the exhibit will include a gallery-style title card to show production techniques, artist contact and/or purchasing information.
The Zine Mobile will also function as a pop-up shop, with retail sales supporting community-minded zine projects; and helping with the maintenance of the trailer and procurement of new titles. The tent and trailer combo chosen for the project allows for a versatile setup in a variety of settings – including school parking lots, fairgrounds, music venues, public parks, community centers, public libraries and farmers markets – creating an adaptable display based on space and terrain constraints.
Living in a rural area and operating their business from a private residence, Jesse and Thaddeus have felt limited in the ways they can participate in the regional arts community. This project allows them to do outreach through tours, events, and workshops, and taking their collection on the road will enable them to share their passion of small-press publishing with a wider audience.
As members of an underserved area themselves, their plan is to take their mobile gallery into areas with less access or exposure to the arts. They will expand the region’s already-active zine scene, focusing on groups often ignored by the mainstream arts world. The hallmark of the zine-making experience is creating and circulating art/writing without using traditional channels or waiting for acceptance from mainstream publishers or vendors. The affordability of producing and purchasing zines makes them an ideal medium for participation from lower income artists and audience members.
The ultimate goal of the Zine Mobile is to encourage and inspire young people and underprivileged groups to participate in the written and visual arts, and to support local artists by purchasing, promoting, and displaying their work.
The Pioneers Press retail website has a section devoted to Kansas/KCMO artists and Jessie and Thaddeus are actively scouting local zine creators. The Zine Mobile will contain a large section of work from local creators, including the 2011 Rocket Grant recipient Johnny America. The Zine Mobile will create contact with more local artists, include their work in the Pioneers Press catalog, and thus expand their reach to an international audience.
Pioneers Press is a publishing house and small-press distributor operated from the Hard Fifty Farm in rural Leavenworth County, Kansas with a well-established international audience. The publishing focus is on survival and sustainability from the farm to the city, in addition to health, gender, sexuality, and Do-It-Yourself and cruelty-free lifestyles. Pioneer Press releases titles seasonally and works with local printers to use soy and vegetable inks and paper from sustainable forests. In addition to their publishing program, they carry over 1,000 small-press and self-published literary, fiction, and visual art books and zines and offer custom button and screen-printing services. The Press strives to support and promote independent authors and artists; to release inexpensive and accessible titles that inspire, inform, and empower our readers; and to help lend credibility to small press publishing.
Jessie Christian, Lead artist, is the owner of Pioneers Press and has been involved with small press and independent publishing since 2001, and has owned/co-owned two of the largest zine distros in the United States. Jessie was the co-founder and managing editor of the weekly newspaper Fahrenheit San Diego and has written and done editorial work for a number of publications, including Herbivore Magazine, Risen Magazine, and the Portland Mercury.
Thaddeus Christian, Co-artist, is a sailor turned literary scholar and has been involved with small press and independent publishing since 2004. He has covered music, arts, and political events for print weeklies, glossies, and online publications including Risen Magazine, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Sign On San Diego, the Portland Mercury, and Kitty Magik Magazine. He’s also worked as the production manager for numerous national tours and events and is the accounts manager for Pioneers Press.