Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When you care enough to send the very best...

Send Mail Art.

Mail art by A. D. Eker (Thuismuseum), 1985, from Wikipedia article.

Once I discovered rubber stamping, I found mail art. It seems the definitive text from the 1980s is still available. The Rubber Stamp Album may yet be found, along with newer books, many focused on using recycled material.

In Southern California, Anne Seltzer's "Postmarked" shows raised funds to purchase books for prisoners through auctioning donated art. If you Google "call for mail art submissions," you will find current opportunities to take part in larger projects. What I still like best is sending - or receiving - something that gives them something to talk about at the post office and along the routes between here and there.

Rubber stamp images, copyright M. Kelly.

20 comments:

susan t. landry said...

i love mail art. it saved my life. well, slight exaggeration. but ... let's say being part of a mail art circle has been the engine that got me moving down the track when i've been stuck.

all hail mail art!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - It saved my life, too, and gave me a whole new career, the chance to become a specialist in something. Rubber stamping professional, who knew. I love the way a seemingly inconsequential thing like a decorated envelope can change one's world. All hail. xo

Sherry O'Keefe said...

a friend from way back still mails me handwritten letters. the envelopes are cut from old maps, or artsy catalogs. the two of us are always on the lookout for some paper serving one purpose that would make a great envelope. another friend sends me cards and has been using up an assortment of postage stamps her mother acquired over the years. i save those envelopes from her as well.

susan t. landry said...

marylinn, do you know ray johnson's work? that's who first opened my eyes to the possibilities.
also, when i saw that show in boston last year of edward gorey's illustrations, i was enchanted by the letters he wrote home to his mother when he was in college, with classic gorey-esque illustrations on the envelopes.
one of these days when i screw up my energy to go through all the boxes & cartons, i'll do a post of mail art that i have received...great stuff!

grrl + dog said...

Not to mention
good old snail mail
and REAL art made in the non digital fashion...

Radish King said...

I love mail art but gave up on it when it wasn't reciprocated. I was once part of a mail art project where a woman cut apart her wedding dress (new or barely worn) into squares and sent it out to artists to turn into mail art. The end piece was quite lovely with all the art put back together and shown in a gallery in dress shape. Another one was paintings on small letter-shaped pieces of tin.

xo

Jayne said...

I've been going back to old letters and postcards of late, and finding wonderful surprises inside of cards. There was a time, it seems, when we were all crafting.

I miss that time. Wish I could find the time to get back to my dried flower arrangement, wood cuttings, wreaths and sewing. But I still help the kids with their handmade projects. It's such a joy to create. And then, to send it off with a stamp! :)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - A number of years ago, there was a local stamp/coin collecting shop that sold unused sheets of commemorative stamps at face value...having a mosaic of many old stamps is, to me, part of mail art. A recently-seen blog post on covers from The New Yorker reminded me what wonderful envelopes they made. I am looking at 'stuff' again with the thought of turning it into mail art. I think such correspondence as you describe brightens the day of all who see it. Thank for writing.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - I haven't had a chance to look yet, but I think I actually have a piece of Ray Johnson's work, from a 'Postmarked' auction, but yes, I do know of him. He is, if I remember correctly, featured in The Rubber Stamp Album where all of this began for me. How I would love to see Edward Gorey's envelopes...and to his mother. How I look forward to your post of saved mail art...hope the time and inclination to search come soon. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Beautiful postage is one of the reasons for snail mail...I love our commemorative postage...as well as the chance to go all silly and colorful for no reason except that one can. While I share my art digitally, I haven't a clue how to create it digitally, nor is it likely that I ever will. I enjoy the process and tools of the trade too much. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - The wedding dress collaborative sounds wonderful, and there must be quite a story behind it. When I was most active, there were a lot of exchanges connected to Nick Bantock's "Griffin and Sabine" series. I like the painted tin idea, anything going through the mail that is outside normal postal expectations. Perhaps some forgetful friend will actually put something into the mail for you. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jayne - Even an occasional bit of decorative mail removes us from feeling that what we enjoyed has slipped away. The 70s and early 80s, before discovering mail art and rubber stamps, were certainly crafty times for me and people I knew. Embroidering Levi's chambray work shirts...wish I had them, no matter how threadbare, today, and other sundry projects. I remember helping my son make a history project with trading cards. I think creating is one of our imperatives...how do we not? xo

susan t. landry said...

forgot to mention donald evans...

(i'm getting psyched...)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Now I HAVE to pull out The Rubber Stamp Album...I know I have a Donald Evans postcard...may still have a book. I'm getting that psyched feeling, too.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

I love real mail! I have a friend who lives about 3 hours away but she doesn't 'do' the computer thing and we've been sending each other 'something to talk about' mail for years. Even sending a post card can be fun. When I worked as a letter carrier for the post office, I was always delighted to sort a piece of fun mail. We'd also play the guessing game with post card photos before looking on the back to see where it was from. Oh yes...I always read them as well!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kerry - Post cards are fun...my stash is dwindling and I feel the need to refresh it. I love having friends or family who write letters, I like that we have them to keep and reread without a device. Somehow, printing out is not the same. And I always assumed that post cards are read all along the line...how could they not be? xo

Robert the Skeptic said...

We have a little famly-owned bookstore in town. They also carry cards made by local artist and photographers. We make a point to get cards from this source as they are unique and creative and support local people. Some are quite remarkable.

beth coyote said...

Hooray for the small acts of subversion ala mail art. My kid always decorates anything she mails to me. And I feel special because of it.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - Artist-made cards are great...I have had less luck finding artist-made postcards, or locally-produced when I traveled. I will always be a die-hard, snail mail fan, whether the beauty is inside the envelope, outside or both. Maybe when we are done protesting Wall Street, if we ever are, we could demonstrate on behalf of the post office.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - You are not only special to be the recipient, but to have given the world a creative subversive. It takes but a moment or two to affix something challenging or eye-catching to a plain envelope. Just saying, world. xo