Album covers of imaginary soul superstar "Mingering Mike" to be exhibited at Smithsonian



“Will Wes Anderson please pick up the white phone? Paging Wes Anderson…”


wow, i remember reading the issue about him in Wax Poetics back around '08. at first, I was a bit skeptical of why he was a cover story, but the sheer volume of work, the immersion and what an author would call “world building” is really interesting. kinda neat that he made it into the Smithsonian, particularly as a “local boy makes good” type of angle.

@wrecksdart proving that it is indeed possible to be both twee and funky simultaneously. whodathunk?


“Won’t you take me to… Funky Twee? Won’t you take me to… Fun-key Twee?”


Without snark, can someone explain this? I realize that art means different things to different people, but I’m not seeing any obvious difference between this and the doodles inside any of a million Trapper Keepers. I get that it’s profligate, imaginative, and has a deep and rich internal world…but so do a lot of those Trapper Keepers.


Looking at a couple album covers, I agree. The reason it’s flagged up is complicated, though. Outsider art has a pretty extensive wikipedia page:

In this instance, the artist has constructed an entire fantasy world about their success as a musician/soul artist, back when soul music was first starting to be recognized and also develop its own sound. Mingering Mike didn’t just jot down some ideas and create some fake album covers, though – he created a LOT of these things and it had an arc that roughly matched the rise of soul music in America. It provides a glimpse into the type of influence this cultural event had on people.

I’ve read some articles critical of outsider art being celebrated by the regular art crowd as it’s often produced by people with some form of mental illness or disorder. That’s not always the case, though, and in many ways outsider art is simply naive art, providing a glimpse into the past that does not exist in the normal art channels.


I instantly loved these images when I first saw them here a few years back and saved each one to my hard drive. As a life long crate digger they struck a chord with me. It is what it is, I try not to think about it too much just open my heart to the pure innocence and joy they portray. Mingering Mike needs a compilation cover album made in his honor using his song titles.


So it isn’t just because he used the word, “minging”?

well, I think that it is recognizing that

has become a form of american cultural expression. like, I’ve seen exhibits with the tools of the Inuit that are really intricately, decoratively carved; it’s a really interesting window into the world of those people. but they weren’t carving them to create some statement about the human condition that would hopefully get them exhibited in the Inuit version of the Louvre. these were guys that were sitting in an igloo during a sunless arctic winter that were killing time by trying to make their tools look cool. So, realizing that one current incarnation of that idea is Trapper Keeper art is valid, to me.

I agree that Mingering Mike is a similar idiom of Trapper-Keeper art (which is cool in itself, IMO,) but he wasn’t just doodling in class on what was in front of him, he was doing his best to re-create the sizes and look of manufactured goods and its artwork, with an output befitting a true zealot. This tips the scales right on over into outsider art. if Howard Finster was obsessed with soul music instead of the bible, he’d have done something like this.

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fellow record-head! what would you say your biggest scores were?

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