An Occasional Post on Art that Thrills Me
I saw an exhibit that made me oogle and cheer in Santa Fe in August 2016. It was “MAIL ART! *Priority Mail*” at the Axle Contemporary, a irreverent mobile gallery that feeds those starved for unusual art.
I must take photos for Sherry! I said to myself. For thirty years, my friend Sherry has been the lone practitioner of Mail Art in my circles and, in fact, she and her current husband courted by way of Mail Art.
For those thirty years, I’ve viciously envied her, simply because she takes so much pleasure in this art form. Nooks throughout in her home are hideaways with scraps of marbled paper, brilliantly colored pencils and one-of-a-kind pens, glitter, patterned fabrics, pictures torn from magazines, color-copy photos, commemorative stamps, amateur sketches, museum cards and art reproductions—bits and scraps and fluff and feathers and all manner of things that the rest of us would righteously waste-basket ASAP.
For those thirty years I’ve imagined how Sherry behaves in the morning. I see her clearing a small space on her eating table, balancing a coffee cup on the edge, glancing at a bouquet of wilting flowers from her garden, taking out her calligraphy pen or some implement, launching a newsy, opinionated, poetic letter to someone distant, then decorating both the paper and the envelope in an inventive way. Luckily for me, I’ve been a recipient of a fair number of those missives, and I confess I’ve kept many them because I just can’t bring myself to throw away art.
Then this exhibit in the Axle Contemporary came along and opened my eyes to further forms of MAIL ART. The infinite creativity of us human never ceases to astonish me.
I’ll share my photos with you here, though most regrettably I can’t match the pieces with their creators, as I was in a hurry when I visited and just snapped away with my phone. Still, if you’re interested you can go to the Axle website (http://www.axleart.com) or to the sites of the various featured artists. They are Frank Ettenberg, Timothy Reed, Michael Darmody, Burning Books, and Gen Hayashida.
What astonishes me is that the US Postal Service actually delivered these! (I imagine, though, that the mail delivery folks were so thrilled to have something other than glossy circulars, campaign ads, and look-alike envelopes to handle, that they went out of their way to make sure these got though.)
Here is the front and back of a sheepskin and wood fram postcard :
This metal card depicts the Axle truck:
Now for one of glued-together pencils:
Now for a sponge!
The address on this mirror-card can only be read if you hold it at the right angle:
Here’s one composed of 5-cent stamps:
And here’s the multi-media postcard:
Well, I was inspired. Don’t know that I’ll ever try to follow suit, but I’ve gained a new appreciation for our postal system and for boundary-less creativity.