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  • - * 13 DOORS OF X* *Meeah Williams* The Barking Cat Press * 2015 Brooklyn, NY * Seattle, WA copyright 2015 Meeah Williams/The Barking Cat...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

=mail art: from Nancy Scott Bell, Maine=

A particularly nice surprise came from Nancy Scott Bell, an artist I've particularly admired and who has been a recent influence on my own work of late. As a borderline agoraphobic, I got a good laugh from the stamp on the envelope flap: "Emily Dickinson: Proof that leaving the house is overrated." 

Inside one of Nancy's beautifully altered book pages, strikingly tinted and adorned with a band of asemic calligraphy:

But what I was most excited to get were this quartet of Nancy's signature "3-scrappers." I've been fascinated by the beauty of Nancy's randomly-constructed miniature collages since I first saw them. 

She often includes her instructions for making your own. I've tried to do it but I lack the discipline to follow instructions, even the ones I give myself. Usually, I start off with three random elements as prescribed, but I end up using that as a starting point, a chance-generated background, as it were, for a more deliberately-constructed collage. I consider that generally a failure on my part, as well as indicative of just how hard it is to do what Nancy does so minimally, and so well. 

Here are her instructions: 

One of the great treats of mail art is to be able to communicate directly and tangibly with artists you admire--all the moreso when it leads to holding in your hands original work that they created. Thank you Nancy! 

=centipede: a dream journal=

Friday, October 18, 2013

=hotel card key paintings=

--paintings executed on deactivated hotel card keys.

=Mail Art from Neil Gordon, Connecticut=

This large-windowed, repurposed envelope makes an intriguing preview presentation for the art teasingly half-concealed within:

I must admit myself to be inordinately, almost childishly fascinated with cellophane panels on envelopes. They tempt with what I imagine to be secrets, forbidden information, hidden treasure. They are like looking through a keyhole into another room or into the self-contained world of an aquarium, an environment from which you are ordinarily, even constitutionally, excluded, except as voyeur. In the case of a letter, however, provided you are the addressee, you are specifically invited inside. Who can resist?

A closer look at the contents reveal an artful arrangement of ephemera, including a torn prescription label, a scrap of text concerning "abnormalities in the brain, and some asemic doodling. The red string running roughly down the center "ties together" the left and right sides of the piece, balancing the vintage b&w photo of an ornately dressed woman and the Situationist-style image of the thrice-repeated figure in the suit and tie.

Say hello to Ed Regets, if you'd like. A typical banking vampire from the looks of him. This (vintage?) magazine sheet was included in the package; on the reverse side, a guy that looked like a 70s porn star, complete with mustache, was offering Winston Lights. 

In the foreground is the reverse side of the substrate used for the piece above. Hormel Roast Beef Hash?! I never knew they made such a thing. It's "homestyle" though, prepared by someone named "Mary Kitchen," so it must be good, right? Check out the recipe for Puffed Hash Omelet if you're feeling particularly adventurous.

Do I detect a bit of irony in the play of old elements and new, health/drugstore elements on one side of the piece, canned meats and cigarettes on the other? Maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

In any event, it's great fun to look at. Thank you Neil for this "nourishing" work!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

=mail art received from California "Fine Art"=

A very pretty postcard collage arrived from a California artist going under the pseudonym "Fine Art." It's a wonderful piece that can be viewed as a single work but also as a collection of micropieces. The stencil is the most obvious, but the stamp at the upper left can also be considered as a  "framed" stand-alone work. Less obvious, and obscured by the way I've chosen to display the card is the blue area, which, if the card is turned horizontally, reveals a very subtle brushwork that is reminiscent of a Hokusai ocean wave. 

And that is only skimming the surface of this piece, which is not only more than the sum of its parts, but, at the same time, more than its apparent whole--a whole consisting of several independent wholes. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

=mail art received: Richard Canard: The La Rochefoucauld of Mail Art?=

The above piece came with a copy of a letter from the early 80s, an invitation to Richard, among other invited artists, to imagine a dress design for then First Lady Nancy Reagan, her much-satirized for her elite fashion extravagance, among other extravagances. This was Richard's "solution" to the problem "What should Nancy wear next?" I'd buy one of these in a heartbeat.

Above, Richard continues to surprise and delight me with the variety and ingenuity of his "ready-made" postcards. On the left is one of his "Canardisms" that most resonates with me. The most effective, perhaps only truly effective revolution not being political whatsoever, but the evolution of one's personal consciousness and perception.

On the back of another recent card were pithy gems of wit and wisdom that make a case for considering Richard as the contemporary mail-art equivalent of the great aphorists of bygone ages, working in the tradition of such past masters of the form as the 17th century French writer La Rochefoucauld. Oscar Wilde on a postcard, perhaps? 

Richard's recent aphorisms ranged from wry cultural critique: "The problem with the graffiti artist is the 3 foot high letters of his moniker prevent him from contemplating the rest of the alphabet" and "I am of the opinion that 'fashion' is the original Fluxus & it is habitually active" to the surrealistic: "The artist is just a human being trapped inside of Salvador Dali's ego." From the Nietzschean: "To jump into the abyss with a parachute or a bungee cord is self-defeating" to the Sisyphean: "As a disciplined mail-artist I send out at least one or two postcards everyday whether it is worth the effort or not" to the mind-bendingly quantum: "A postcard is never finished--it has invisible tentacles that connect to the next one to follow or a response." 

To these I might add: "Any day is a better day when you find Richard Canard in your mailbox."