MANKATO — Last summer, Jacob Downs got real close to closing the book on Landlocked.
Six months into running the non-profit arts magazine he co-founded with Brian Rosemeyer, momentum was flagging. His list of freelance contributors was drying up. He was trying to replace his page designer, and advertising contracts needed to be renewed.
Already working in his family’s business — the Downs family owns and operates Pagliai’s Pizza in Mankato and NaKato Bar in North Mankato — Jacob found himself pondering Landlocked’s future.
After all, seven months is a pretty good run for an all-volunteer arts magazine (the profits from which benefit the Midwest Arts Catalyst, which provides funding for fine arts opportunities in Mankato schools). With the exception of Save the Crumbs, an idiosyncratic but entertaining bi-monthly publication that has circulated Mankato since 2007, Landlocked is one of a very few lit-mag startups in town that have ventured past the first few months.
“I thought July would be the last issue,” Downs said. “We decided to make it as big as we could.”
With that issue — featuring interviews with Le Sueur artist Gregory Euclide, whose work graced the cover of Bon Iver’s Grammy winning album, and Doomtree’s Cecil Otter — interest was revived.
“All of a sudden, we started bringing in some people who really took the reigns,” Downs said. “I don’t think most ‘zines make it a year. I see why. It’s stressful.”
Despite a sometimes trying inaugural year, Landlocked is celebrating its first anniversary on Friday with a reader appreciation party.
Hosted by the 410 Project art gallery in downtown Mankato, Landlocked has invited all of its cover artists from the first year to submit work.
Highlights include: Brian Frink’s “The Big Winston,” which is the Minnesota State University art instructor’s first large-scale pet painting and marks a dramatic shift from his earlier, abstract work; Meranda Turbak’s “Pretty Hairdos,” which is representative of the MSU graduate’s faintly grotesque yet oddly gradeful paintings of female figures; and Keith Ludi’s “Interplanetary Destroyer,” a six-foot long, three-foot tall sculpture made of found objects.