Priority Mail *
In 1840, the first postage stamp was designed and introduced in the United Kingdom with a portrait of Queen Victoria. Since that time, numerous artists around the world have used the mail service as a springboard to create works of art. Early practitioners were Italian Futurists and Dadaists, most notably Marcel Duchamp and Kurt Schwitters. Later mail art creators included Fluxus artists Joseph Beuys and Yoko Ono. With the creation of the New York Correspondence School by Ray Johnson in the 1960s, Mail Art became a recognized art form.
The once ubiquitous postcard has now largely been replaced by social media and e-mail, but Axle Contemporary will nevertheless present an exhibition of this anachronistic artform with works by New Mexico Artists Frank Ettenberg, Timothy Reed, Michael Darmody, Burning Books, and Gen Hayashida.
Timothy Reed started sending us his intricate postcard paintings/drawings/collages anonymously last year. In our electronic media age, a physically composed message, not advertising or a bill, arriving in our mailboxes, is a real surprise. We were delighted and intrigued, when we figured out who it was, we invited him to continue so we could include his work in an exhibition of Mail Art.
Gen Hayashida constructs beautiful objects that test the limits of the USPS, often mailing the works to his wife. The results are surprising, humorous and often beautiful. His “postcards” are composed from apparently random sources and may be assemblages of found letters from board games, a stack of pencils, or an antique weathered mailbox itself.
Michael Darmody lives in Farmington, New Mexico. Much of his work references that geographical and cultural place. Race Card Rack uses humor to critique racist stereotypes and tourism. A common postcard rack holds the standard cards such as “Navajo Medicine Man”, but Darmody cunningly adds cards such as “White Minister” and “White Mother and Child,” treating the dominant culture as a curiosity.
Years ago, painter Frank Ettenberg exhibited his work at the Austrian Tobacco Museum in Vienna. After the exhibition, he was left with a number of elegantly printed postcard invitations. He has overpainted the postcards with new paintings, allowing portions of the original card to show thorough in different ways on each. We will present the colorful reworking of the original postcards.
For decades the husband/wife duo of Michael Sumner and Melody Sumner Carnahan have worked together creating art and publishing as Burning Books. Their first book, published in 1980, is THE FORM: 1970-1979, by Melody Sumner Carnahan. This project involved mailing questionnaires to friends and admired artists. The received responses are documented and published in the book. The varied responses to the questions offer us insight into changing times, diverse cultural references, and the creative process of some of the artists of our time. They will present original responses from the questionnaire, including those by noted artists such as John Cage and John Baldessari.
Axle Contemporary also invites the local and international community to send us a work of postcard art which we will display in an un-juried ancillary exhibition in a shoebox. This will be featured in the gallery concurrently with the principal exhibition. Send all work to P.O. Box 22095, Santa Fe, NM, 87502. Work will not be returned. See those works below.
* Priority Mail is a registered trademark of the United States Postal Service. For information on their services and rates, click here.
Mail Art sent to us, through the mail from all over the planet.