It's always encouraging to see struggling local artists take their creative destinies into their own hands. Case in point: I just received the debut issue of the Donkey Journal. Printed nine times per year, this attractive local contemporary arts periodical comes in the form of a simple folded poster. It's produced by David Leigh, Larry Bob Phillips and Sherlock Terry, three Albuquerque artists who recently opened the nonprofit Donkey Gallery (1415 Fourth Street SE) to exhibit their own art and that of other underrepresented artists.
The gallery, though, wasn't enough to satisfy them. As they write in the brief manifesto included in this first issue, Leigh, Phillips and Terry wanted to provide a forum for much-needed criticism of local experimental artists. The Donkey Journal is their stab at creating such a forum.
The September issue is modest in scope but impressive nonetheless. In a brief commentary, Steven Sciscenti denounces the concept behind Magnífico's annual juried shows of Albuquerque area artists. Sciscenti presents a reflective if somewhat prickly argument, essentially proposing that because such survey exhibits are, in his view, primarily designed to educate an uninformed public, they're by definition boring. A debatable point, but a provocative one, and this debut issue is all about provocation. The flip side of the poster contains Phillips' "The Place Between Fuck and Shit," a cartoonish and thoroughly grotesque image of a sword slashing through ... what? entrails? I'm not quite sure, but trust me, it's gross.
Grotesque, of course, is the focus of SITE Santa Fe's Fifth International Biennial. The best part of this debut issue is Phillips' thoughtful interview with Kim Jones, a fascinating performance and visual artist who has drawings and an installation currently on display at the Biennial.
All in all, the Donkey Journal is a very welcome addition to Albuquerque's creative culture. You can get a year's worth of issues by mailing $35 to the gallery. Better yet swing by the Donkey on Friday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. for the gallery's second exhibit, The Unwanted Doing the Unnecessary for the Unknowing, an installation by Brooklyn-based artist Fritz Welch. The event will feature refreshments and a musical performance by Welch. The exhibit runs through Oct. 31. 242-7504, www.donkeygallery.org.