Howling at the Edge of a Renaissance:
SPACES and Alternative Art in Cleveland 1978-1998
Amy Bracken Sparks
excerpt from show's catalogue - September 1998
When guests left the Bradley Building warehouse of artist Steven B. Smith, they were offered keepsakes: miniature toy soldiers, babies in plastic bubbles, a poem or two.
A museum of kitschy collectibles destined for one of the artist's mixed-media pieces, Smith's place was a hotbed of ideas and words. A prolific poet and collagist who used his work to make political statements, Smith founded ArtCrimes, a publication crowded with poems, collages and illustrations, his and others, sporting an explosive, irreverent attitude reflecting Smith's "relationship" with authority. (He was kicked out of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 for smoking marijuana.)
The first issue, If Indication Abnormal, was published in May 1986, featuring 28 artists. Guest editors such as S. Judson Wilcox, Beth Wolfe, Melissa J. Craig and Daniel Thompson were given free rein for subsequent issues, resulting in innovative formats, including a coloring book, a popcorn box, a loose "deck" of cards, legal tablets, as well as What Is Performance Art?, serving as 1989's Performance Art Festival catalogue.
After sharing his pages with hundreds of artists, Smith published the 18th ArtCrimes in October 1997: Burnt Tongue Soup - Word Smiths Words Worst, featuring poems he wrote between 1964-1997.
Comment on Smith's poetry...e mail smith at smithcrimes @-sign yahoo dot com