A New City Zine Keeps it Low Key

Las Vegas local and Atomic Liquors bartender Jeffrey Grindley found his love and passion for zines in 2001 after attending Las Vegas ZineCon. He used the medium as an outlet to show his poetry.

“Showing my work was something I’ve always wanted to do when I was younger, but it felt inaccessible, or that [I wasn’t] good enough. It broke down that wall for me,” Grindley says. He created his first zine six months later.

He started buying zines from other cities as well, which eventually turned into a substantial collection. In 2010, Grindley started Las Vegas Zine Library, sharing his personal stash with the community, in Emergency Arts on East Fremont. It operated for 6 years before the bottom floor of Emergency Arts was closed last year.

Closing the library freed up time for Grindley to direct his attention at a backburner project. Low Key zine features a collection of pictures he took highlighting what he considers the everyday beauty of the city. The photographs capture details of urban decay that most overlook.

“When you look closely, those details somehow reveal to be beautiful and fascinating,” Grindley says. Hence the caption on the cover: “We Look But Seldom See.”

We hear but seldom listen, too. To complement the zine, Grindley recorded a noise project on cassette called Permanent Shadow and Slow Crawl, with one long soundscape called “Trish and Dish.” Grindley captured sounds while walking around the city and layered those recordings with synthesizers and voice samples from motivational speakers and philosophers with a 4-track recorder.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Grindley

“I feel more comfortable doing something freeform, without having a structured sound, just like the theme of the photographs. It gives the audience more to think about—what they’re really overlooking and overhearing.”

And while most don’t have a tape player to listen to the antiquated format, Grindley used cassettes because of handmade quality. “There’s a sense that someone spent a lot of time on this … It makes it more personal,” Grindley says. “Being able to share art instantly online is great, but as far as the actual content, I appreciate it more when I have it my hands, [when] I’m sitting down with it and pushing play. It’s the same intimate concept with handmade zines.”

The pages of Low Key are handsewn and packed in a handsewn fabric pouch along with the cassette tape. You can purchase Low Key for $8 at the Writer’s Block.

Grindley is already working on the next issue and is eager to include other artist’s work depicting the overlooked beauty in Las Vegas and other cities. He is accepting photos from anyone, anywhere.

To submit, send photos to lowkeyzine@gmail.com.

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