James Koehnline  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

James Koehnline (pronounced KEN-line) is a collage artist whose work has graced many anarchist periodicals & books as well as music CDs; has co-edited a number of books and had his work collected in Magpie Reveries. Designs and edits the yearly Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints which is also is the thematic core for the Daily Bleed Calendar (now online for some 7+ years); currently resides in Seattle, Washington, worked for some years at Recollection Used Books.

Koehnline has been creating works of art, in various media all his life, largely influenced by his father's passion for surrealism. He pursued a formal education at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design before attending Columbia College in Chicago. Decades later, he studied digital media at the Art Institute of Seattle. Meeting at Columbia College, Koehnline gained further direction under the mentoring of collagist, sculpter and host of the weekly radio broadcast "Art and Artists" (WFMT), Harry Bouras. Koehnline has also been involved in a number of grass roots political groups and in 1985, joined several other artists in establishing the collective gallery/studio, Axe Street Arena. Housed in an abandoned Golblatt's department store in Logan Square (Chicago), Axe Street members strove, according to Koehnline, to "explore the place where art and politics meet". Koehnline utilized the seemingly unlimited space at Axe Street for delving into a long run of monotype print making (the press being a gift from Bouras) and crafting his "Chaos Papers." The later being marbled paper he created with brilliant printing inks in a fashion similar to the Japanese Suminagashi, the volitile inks allowed to drift reactively across vats of water, stirred into swirls and patterns by chemical tensions and earthly vibrations and the subway below. While living and working at Axe Street Arena, Koehnline met Ron Sakolsky, music critic, anarchist and professor at Sangamon University (Illinois) at the Conference of the Alliance for Cultural Democracy. Years later, in Seattle, the pair edited the book, ''Gone to Croatan: the Origins of North America Drop Out Culture, " published by Autonomedia (New York) in 1993, the same year the two set anarchists politics aside, in order that Koehnline could marry, with Sakolsky presiding over, or rather, pronouncing the vows complete. When questioned about why an anarchist would embrace legal matrimony, Koehnline, paraphrasing Wendell Barry, claimed,"I decided to be happy, though I had considered all the facts." Back at Axe Street Arena, Koehnline currated two mail art shows. The first show, "The Haymarket Centennial International Mail Art Exhibition," explored the Haymarket Massacre, labor issues and the history of May Day, with entries from nearly 50 countries. The result was a catalog called, "Panic," which evolved into several issues. Through this event Koehnline became acquainted with Hakim Bey for whom he has created several book covers and came to befriend members of the New York based publishing collective, Autonomedia. Having become involved with mail art projects initiated outside of the collective and falling into zine culture.

Still living and working at Axe Street, emeshed in zine culture, Koehnline took a position as a librarian. The bounty of visual material at his fingertips and the zine world ready for output, Koehnline became a prolific cut and paste collagist.

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