A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine

February 15, 2024

A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine is a comprehensive exhibition focusing on the Esopus archive, currently on display at the Colby College Museum of Art.


The show, running from February 15 to May 12, 2024, presents archival materials and original artworks associated with Esopus and includes audio and video artifacts, photographs of studio visits and press runs, handwritten notes and diagrams, email exchanges, issue mockups, printers’ proofs, and artists’ notes. These are contextualized by select loaned and commissioned works. The show offers a behind-the-scenes vantage point on an innovative magazine committed to providing an unfiltered, unmediated (ad-free) experience of pure creative expression.

Esopus’s archive spans countless disciplines, including art, photography, literature, music, history, theater, film, and many more. The publication featured contemporary artists’ projects by both established and emerging figures such as William Christenberry, Mary Lum, Alex Masket, Mickalene Thomas, and Richard Tuttle. It presented personal reflections by creative practitioners, for instance novelist Karl Ove Knausgård and theatrical lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, alongside short plays, visual essays, film excerpts, poetry, and fiction. Each of the twenty-five issues concluded with a themed audio compilation of new songs by genre-spanning musicians.

Esopus also connected with, and involved, readers through “subscriber invitationals,” in which people were asked to submit content that was then used as source material for contributors. For instance, in Esopus 4, readers were invited to send in descriptions of their childhood imaginary friends, which then inspired songs by musical acts such as Low and Kimya Dawson (available to listen to in the exhibition).

A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine encourages a similar level of engagement with its audience by making available all issues of the magazine and other Esopus publications for perusal; visitors can fill out “Esopus Picks” bookmarks to indicate their favorite contributions; complete a crossword puzzle designed for the magazine by cruciverbalist David Quarfoot; and play Metagame, a card game devised by Local No. 12 for Esopus 17. There is also a range of materials related to the magazine’s exhibition venue, Esopus Space (2009–12); and a hammock—commissioned from Esopus contributor Paolo Arao and Gregory Beson—has turned the Davis Gallery alcove into a relaxing space that evokes the publication’s namesake, the Esopus Creek in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The creek is depicted in a 60-minute animated projection commissioned from Esopus contributors Hinterland Studios. A number of related events, from magazine-making workshops to film screenings, will take place on campus and in downtown Waterville throughout the run of the exhibition.

A Lot More Inside: Esopus Magazine is accompanied by an exhibition catalog that also serves as final issue of the publication. The exhibition is co-curated by Tod Lippy, Esopus founder and sole editor, and Megan Carey, Barbara Alfond Director of Exhibitions and Publications at the Colby Museum of Art. Colby professors Gary Green and Gianluca Rizzo serve as faculty advisors.

Photos: Andrew Witte, Ashley Conti