I am back in Wisconsin, but the action doesn't stop. From Viroqua to Chicago, we are in the midwest radical culture corridor, after all. If the connections between the three occasions below seem tenuous, the fact that they are proximate in space and time, but stretch across a state line and through big city, college town, and rural town, poses the question that recurs on this blog: when it comes to cultural work, what scale of spatial networking counters the prevailing globalized, urbanized systems of circulation and mobility in which most of visible art and culture now exists?
First there was some confrontational mud stencilling with artist Aaron Hughes and the Madison chapter IVAW bros, Todd Dennis and Nathan Toth. To remind, mud stencilling is the lo-tech, lo-budget method perfected by Milwaukee artist Jesse Graves, who first thought up the process when thinking of how to mark surfaces in public in a zero-impact environmentally friendly way. With Jesse's blessing, the technique quickly was adopted by IVAW and the Tamms Year Ten project. On this day the vets asked me to hold a camera while they did their thing right in the face of a recruiting station.
Then a few days later there was the opening event for Driftless Books and Music, in their new space: The Forgotten Works Warehouse in Viroqua. Back in 2008 a few of us took an afternoon to help Eddy Nix dry out his flooded Viola bookstore. Founded on an eBay purchase of a Connecticut estate book collection, his enterprise has not only survived, but grown. Starting now, the business lives in an old tobacco barn in the larger town of Viroqua. Mister Koppa's getting in on the act, though he hasn't gotten his press moved in yet. We were given a sneak tour of the private work spaces upstairs, and I must say, the place has some serious potential. Sarah mentioned that it reminded her of the Experimental Station. I agree. The culture cluster phenomenon is a likelihood, i.e. the opposite of the strip mall, more like the pre-fire Experimental Station, wherein a unique space of incubation emerged out of the local cultural and intellectual ecology.
Not surprisingly, we ran into the experimental media artists mIEKAL aND and CamillE BacoS. More surprisingly, mIEKAL was there pouring wine. We sampled all five (or was it six?). The ginger rhubarb dessert wine was terrific. He allowed me a short video interview about their new wine making adventure.