I went to the Whitney Biennial this past weekend with my honey. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the show and it took me a little while to acclimate to being there. It didn’t help that everywhere I looked, people were checking their phones, including a security guard! I was like, is anybody focusing here?! Is this the new normal? After a bit I settled in and connected to some work. Nothing made my heart sing but I did like the mail art pieces by Moyra Davey. Check them out.
Look at the fantastic mail I received from my dad! The Good Mail Day book is full of excellent suggestions for making mail art and as my son pointed out, there are even stickers in the back!
My son made these envelopes for a dinosaur art envelope contest that was hosted by the dinosaur illustrator James Gurney. They were fun to make and mail and Gurney returned the favor by sending my son a package that contained some self promoting material and a dinosaur doorknob hanger. It reads, “Do not enter. Violators will be eaten.” and is currently hanging on my son’s bedroom doorknob but I just ignore it.
This has got me thinking about hosting a Viva Snail Mail envelope art contest. Wanna? I am imagining envelopes adorned with hand written praise for postal workers, watercolor illustrations of mailboxes, love letters drawn on the outside. First 20 submissions win a pony? Or some envelopes? Please hit me with some suggestions of how to actually do this. And if you work at an art space, can we hang our envelope art show on your walls in 2012?
There is an exhibition and event series at Esopus Magazine’s Gallery in Manhattan called “Ray and Bob Box” and its made up of correspondence between Ray Johnson and his friend, Bob Warner. Ray Johnson was a multi-media artist who started the New York Correspondence School, a network of people who sent each other stuff in the mail. Johnson, the father of Mail Art, is one of my heroes, for sure, except for the suicide part. Warner will appear at the gallery to open 13 boxes of mail he received from Johnson over the years. The show is up until June 30th and the box opening schedule is here.
If you aren’t in the New York City area, get your hands on the current copy of Esopus Magazine, in which there is an interview with Bob Warner and some very convincing pullout reproductions of mail sent to Warner by Johnson. The magazine comes out twice a year and is absolutely gorgeous. You can look up where to find Esopus magazine here and after you buy the Ray Johnson issue, consider becoming a subscriber. I’m gonna!
Kids’ mail has been very much on my mind. I am going to host an art making project for kids of all ages at the Greenwood Playground Flea Market in Brooklyn on May 7th called “Make Mail” and I am very excited! So when I discovered boys in capes quietly making supermail in my living room, my heart swelled with love and pride.
Alex Norelli is immersed in a cool mail art project called “Post-Art Poetry.” I heard about it through a friend, went to his website, and picked out a card. He mailed me that stamped, self addressed postcard. I wrote poetry, inspired by the artwork on the postcard, and mailed it back to him. Fun!
Here’s what Alex has to say about Post-Art Poetry:
The reasons I wanted to start this project are many…. but in reality it started when I was at the Moma and found these postcard sets on sale…and all the art was awesome and I had seen almost none of it before. I wanted to share them with people, but also wanted people to really look at them, but not just look, and to do that I felt the assignment of writing poetry from them was good. Also the idea of sending the cards out to get them back was very alluring….Imagining the routes the cards take, admiring the stamps…also everyone’s handwriting….something email really lacks.
I’ve also been a postcard collector for some time…nothing schnazzy, just picking up the odd card here and there. I also just “inherited” a collection of my grandfather’s when my grandmother passed away…he was in a postcard club and they sent cards to each other from everywhere…there’s even one sent from Mount Everest in the 70′s. Going through his collection is the wildest world journey….its funny how something as small as a postcard can transport you so quickly and acutely to a distant moment or place, or consciousness.
From what I’ve heard back from participants they are really getting a lot of out this project, people are really enjoying the task of looking at art to create art. I think its empowering and freeing, and seems to be making people more creatively courageous. I don’t think this project would function as well if it were all done online…it wouldn’t be limited by the actual physical cards, which give everyone an equal space to do their work. And I think postcards are pretty humble and their size “forces” the best/strongest/poetry to the top.