Painted Bride by Sarah R. Bloom
Issue 105 marks an exciting turn in PBQ’s long history. After nearly 25 years of being a hybrid publication, appearing in print and online, going forward we’ll focus solely on digital publishing and our podcast, the Painted Bride Quarterly Slush Pile. We’ve learned a lot in the last few tumultuous years, and one of those things is to keep doing what we do and focus on doing it well.
In 1973 when PBQ published its inaugural issue, the magazine was mimeographed, folded and stapled. Oral history tells us that, of course, the editors did this themselves. They celebrated in the 80’s when they received so many submissions that they published more pages, and were “thick” enough to warrant a spine.
In the early 2000’s, many of today’s editors had taken over, and we tried, for a few years, to have both an online presence, using our early website as a billboard featuring a few pieces from the magazine, and make four print issues per year. We very quickly found that daunting – a.k.a. impossible – for a volunteer team. Thus, our hybrid publication was born. We produced four online issues per year and made one Print Annual. We were so fond of our “two pounds of poetry,” but now find that object to be simply too costly and too cumbersome; it got in the way of what we have always tried to do: celebrate new and established authors and get their work out into the world.
This decision coincides with another significant moment in the history of the Painted Bride Arts Center, our namesake and sister institution. The Arts Center decided to sell its space in 2017 and use the revenue to create arts fellowships for artists working across Philadelphia. They shed their brick-and-mortar address to do more good work in the art world and help artists keep creating.
But in the aftermath of that sale, the extraordinary mosaic mural that decked the building was in a precarious spot. At first the developers swore they would protect Isaiah Zagar’s work, but now it seems the iconic piece has been dismantled. Preservation teams chipped pieces of the skin of the Bride away to save for preservation or future use.
It looks like the Bride is being demolished, but it’s not: its devotion to art and artists is evolving.
And big transformations sometimes come at a cost– we feel the same bittersweet nostalgia for the loss of our print version. We’ll always love the poem on the page– but the essence of our work is to get poems and fiction circulating to readers like you, and the best way to do that is to embrace our virtual form.
The next 4 issues of PBQ will feature images by photographer Sarah Bloom to document and celebrate Zagar’s mural.
Here’s to the Painted Bride Art Center and the Painted Bride Quarterly – long live our love for artists, authors, and the people who help celebrate and present their creative work.