Invitationals in Esopus (2003–2018)

Keeping with the Esopus Foundation’s mission of creating a direct connection between artists and audience, we regularly encouraged our readership to interact with our contributors (and us) through a series of “subscriber invitationals.” For these projects in Esopus, readers generated written or visual content that served as inspiration for contributors’ work. Examples include artist Jason Polan’s “Favorite Thing in New York City” project from Esopus 11 , which featured the artist’s drawings of over 100 subjects submitted by Esopus readers, and a series of renderings by interior designer Thomas Juncher Jensen in Esopus 22 : Medicine illustrating subscribers’ suggestions for “the perfect waiting room.” 

TJJ_TIGHT.jpgThomas Juncher Jensen, foldout from “The Perfect Waiting Room,” from Esopus 22: Medicine

Three of these invitationals were connected to the audio CDs of new music we included in every issue of Esopus. The first, “Imaginary Friends” (Esopus 4), involved asking our readers to send in descriptions of their imaginary companions from childhood, which musicians then used as inspiration for songs. For the second CD,“Dreams,” subscribers offered their recollections of particularly resonant dreams that served as the basis for the compilation’s 11 tracks. In Esopus 17, the irrational fears of our readers inspired 13 songs on the issue’s “Fear Itself” CD.


Audio CDs from Esopus 4, Esopus 9, and Esopus 17 incorporating subscriber invitationals

The final Esopus invitational took this interaction to an unprecedented level. In 2017, artist Marco Maggi created “Drawing Set,” a project in Esopus 24 that provided our readers with a sheet of adhesive-backed die-cut forms created by the artist to create their own artwork on the removable blank page—either cyan, magenta, or yellow, depending on which copy of Esopus 24 they received—in the issue. We received 76 submissions, all included in an exhibition curated by Maggi and Esopus at the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library in September 2017. 


Submissions from (l-r) Kerry James Marshall, Ellen Berkenblit, and Leslie Wayne for the “Drawing Set” invitational.