Artwork: Celine Carey

Artwork: Celine Carey

a Visual Tribute to the "Independent Eye"

Mark Neeley is creating a tribute paper dedicated to the artwork of the "Independent Eye", a progressive underground newspaper published out of Cincinnati (1968-1975).

This project involves publishing a “tribute paper” in honor of the Independent Eye, a progressive underground newspaper published out of Cincinnati (1968-1975). This newspaper is an incredible historic relic of Cincinnati: the first example of the alternative press in the city, as well as providing a rare glimpse of the counterculture movement through a local lens. Showcasing the Independent Eye today is crucial, as many of the activism and viewpoints have a direct, linear path to today’s sociopolitical climate. The unique appearance of this eccentric paper, through its artwork, design and scope will also appeal to many creative people interested in the practice of modern printing and publishing. Neeley’s discovery of the Eye came last November, and the Public Library (which had stored the archive in their “rare book room” vaults) encouraged him to create a multi-nuanced project with the materials. It came together like fate, as a library worker quickly got Neeley in touch with Jim Tarbell, who kindly pointed him in the right direction to begin his research. This project involves digitizing the entire collection for free public access, and creating a community-oriented exhibition.

The tribute paper is a unique and significant addition to this project. It will serve as an homage to the remarkable artwork featured throughout the pages of the Eye (originally published by a small team of local artists). Twelve unique local artists have been contacted and accepted invitations to submit their own pieces to the tribute. This diverse group of artists includes members of local arts organizations like ArtWorks and Visionaries and Voices, to artists who simply create their work as a hobby. It allows the artists an open communication to creatively express themselves in the modern climate, while being inspired by the spirit of the Eye. While it serves as a tribute to the original artists, Neeley believes the scope will extend further than this. He says, “This project will create a compelling connection between the public, these local artists, as well as our historic library. The PLCH has offered to distribute the papers to multiple local library branches in conjunction with the opening exhibition. I have partnered with local printing expert Jon Flannery, who operates a Northside print studio called Cryptogram Ink. Through our research, Jon and I have found a quality printing method that we find synonymous with how the original newspaper was printed.”

Optic is supported by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation.

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