Posts Tagged ‘mail art’

Celebrating Art's Birthday on January 17th, 2010 -- thanks to Robert Filliou & the Eternal Network!

(edit: it’s becoming somewhat of a tradition that I post this particular article on January 17th. Read further to see why!))

You may or may not have known, but today is Art’s birthday.

You remember, you’ve met Art before: the last time you snatched up a fountain pen, inked a rubber stamp, or folded a snazzy envelope…that’s Art.

is this Art? yes -- I believe it is...
is this Art? yes — I believe it is…

The idea of Art’s Birthday was introduced by Robert Filliou in 1963. The idea goes something like this: 1,000,000 years ago, there was no art. (!) But one day, on the 17th of January to be precise, Art was born. (!!) According to Filliou, it happened when someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. (!!!) And thus a new holiday was born. Art’s birthday is celebrated in a wide variety of ways throughout the world; there are accounts of musical/noise recordings, get-togethers in which artists build/exchange “gifts” to/for Art, or all-night birthday parties/celebrations.

ask yourself a question...
ask yourself a question…

Mail artists feel a special affinity for Art’s Birthday; Filliou and Fluxus artist George Brecht introduced the term “Eternal Network” to the art world (circa 1965), and mail artists have adopted this phrase for their own usage. Filliou himself believed that art didn’t have to express itself as an object (i.e. a painting/sculpture/tangible something-or-other). He saw art as a form of play that could even occur as unrealized notions, which is a view which stays with us today, stronger than ever.

tools of my trade...
tools of my trade…

One of the important ideas attached to the Eternal Network, (or “La Fête Permanente”/ The Constant Festival as it is also known) is that “the artist must be aware that he is part of a larger social network, part of the “Constant Festival” which surrounds him everywhere and elsewhere in the world.” For mail artists, this notion is always at work — creating, sending, and receiving in return are the gears that keep postal machinery running and mailboxes full.

Filliou went on the travel the world, as well as conduct interactive art experiments and events. His constant study of Zen Buddhism led him to incorporate many of it’s core beliefs into both film and art works. In 1987, after creating his final piece (Time is a Nutshell), Robert Filliou passed away.

hand carved, hand perfed, hand stamped!
hand carved, hand perfed, hand stamped!

We are left with a yearly celebration, a time to consider how important this thing named “art” is to us. Take a moment to create, to reflect, to share. How do you live with your art/works? What promises do you make to Art, and yourself?

Making is doing. Creating is learning. Art is all around us, in big things and tiny glimpses.


PS: the recent book “Felt: Fluxus, Joseph Beuys, and the Dalai Lama” by Chris Thompson is a fascinating look at the way western art met eastern philosophy when Robert Filliou and Dutch artist Louwrien Wijers arranged a meeting between avant garde artists and the Dalai Lama in 1982. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in avant garde art history and it’s intersection with eastern philosophy.

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skulls, stripes, and pirates...what's not to love?

skulls, stripes, and pirates…what’s not to love?

Halloween: it arrived in a bustle of candy corn, glitter pink eye shadow (for the costume, I swear!) and a small size, petite pumpkin. “When did that happen?!” I asked myself. “It seems like May was just last week…”

perhaps you need a dental plan?

perhaps you need a dental plan?

San Francisco loves itself some Halloween – if you’ve lived here for even a couple of years, you’ll learn that important lesson. We take it seriously. This is a holiday not to be taken lightly.

the perfect envelope!

the perfect envelope!

I never really need an excuse to purchase accessories involving the colors black and/or orange, cats with huge eyes or CANDY. All the more exciting if those accessories can be used to mail Important Halloween Documents!

a box of BOO!

a box of BOO!

I grew up on the spooky side of the street – literally. (my goth street cred is pretty high.) Add to that the fact that my mum’s birthday is on Halloween and you can probably see how this whole thing ended up: by sending a celebratory birthday box of mystery! (there was even some acknowledgment of the box’s “coolness” when I took it to the PO – a different one from my usual spot…)

look at that fabulous orange paper!

look at that fabulous orange paper!

I made sure to whip up a few eerie postcards and was thrilled to be using some new seasonal rubber stamps in the mix…

I find I'm appreciating the neon more these days...

I find I’m appreciating the neon more these days…

But wait! The festivities weren’t finished! This past Sunday, the SF Public Library and SF Correspondence Co-op hosted “Gone But Not Forgotten: Correspondence Calaveras” at the SFPL. What’s a correspondence calavera, you say?

but I also love the red and blue...

but I also love the red and blue…

It is an opportunity to write a message, memory, anecdote, or poem about a loved one near or far. Attendees were invited to decorate their postcards using a variety of different techniques, and then post them in the Co-op mailbox at the event.

some Posada rubber stamps I had made especially for the event...

some Posada rubber stamps I had made especially for the event…

Co-op members will affix postage and mail these calaveras within the next week or so.

in the moment...

in the moment…

I had silkscreened two hundred postcards; by the end of the event, only a handful remained. Regular Co-op members were in attendance, but library patrons also drifted through – some staying for the whole of the event, others watching silently for a few minutes and then leaving.

a bit of down time...

a bit of down time…

What brought them to this particular event? Some were simply curious, others wanted to write a postcard to remember a loved one. A few were stymied by the concept: “Who would I send a postcard to? And why?” After some guidance and explanation, I could see the “aha!” moment happen. These were the folks who decided to sit down and stay for awhile.

still life, with Posada...

still life, with Posada…

When things were all wrapped up, it was incredibly satisfying to look inside the event mailbox and see all of those postcards filled out, waiting to be stamped and sent out into the world. From where I’m standing, that’s a true measure of success: each postcard represents a person who took the time to brighten another person’s day with the simple act of writing a message down on a piece of paper.

perfectly perfect...

perfectly perfect…

While the holiday of Dia de los Muertos is primarily about remembering those who have come before us, we should also recognize those who surround us every day – and remind ourselves that we have the best of both possible worlds.


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eeny, meeny, miny, moe...

eeny, meeny, miney, moe…

There’s nothing I like better than starting a new project: the initial planning stages, organizing the tools I’ll be using, working out a concept or design. As many of you may know, I love to incorporate aspects of random chance into my work, whether that means text, imagery, or materials.

why make a decision...

why make a decision…

Last week, I received an invite from the Brenda May Gallery to participate in just such a project. The “On GOING GaGa SaGa” (curated by Akky van Ogtrop) is an exhibition featuring multiples, artists’ books, zines, and printed ephemera.

...when you can use them ALL!

…when you can use them ALL!

Given a mere three minutes in which to work, artists create a zine or artist book out of materials at hand. After assembling a handful of key elements, I was sprinting out of the gate!

Three minutes can feel like an eternity or fly by at the speed of light (in this case, it was the latter). I had put together “something” by the time the buzzer went off, but I felt like I was really only halfway finished. So I gave myself another five minutes to wrap up the project!

Having that extra five minutes made me feel better about my fast-and-furious project; there’s something about the addition of a cover on a book/zine that gives it an air of legitimacy, makes those loose pages feel like a “real” book.

X marks the...oh, nevermind.

X marks the…oh, nevermind.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the project was the time constraint. I was reminded that a person really can make something interesting in 10 minutes. Sometimes I get caught in the hamster wheel of overthinking projects;  spending waaaay too much time on a single postcard will result in putting it at the bottom of a pile. “It looks so overworked,” I’ll think and eventually shred it up (months later) to use in something else.

all those delicious rubber stamps...

all those delicious rubber stamps…

With a 10 minute time limit, you don’t have the luxury of “thinking”; it’s all about the “doing”. Happy accidents and creative concurrence can take place, without the brain chatter of “move this to the left” or “why don’t you try blue colored pencil?”

...on a single page spread!

…on a single page spread!

Needless to say, doing this project helped me out with another upcoming project; creative roadblock: removed! In just a few short minutes of whirlwind “making” via one project, I was able to problem solve a different project – funny how that worked out!

So now it’s back to the studio with some fast-forward momentum; look out October and November – I’m comin’ at’cha with a whole slew of new zines and book projects!


PS: if you’re interested in following all of the different artists for this project, take a look at #gagasagafluxusbox on Instagram

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it seems like my desk is always a MESS...

it seems like my desk is always a MESS these days…

It’s a brand new week and I’m looking at a cavalcade of looming deadline — most notably, the SF Zine Fest! Are you a fan of DIY publishing? Indie culture? Free events? Then SF Zine Fest is for YOU!

which of these items will make it onto the table at SFZF?

which of these items will make it onto the table at SFZF?

This week I’m rushing to finish up a couple new projects that have been in the works for weeks. I can also promise a few “burmuda triangle” projects that will make an appearance on the RLD table (issue #4 or RLD, anyone?) And guess what else? I’m sharing a table space with Happenstance Type-O-Rama, who has a GORGEOUS artist book featuring Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”. (I can say no more…)

beauty-in-progress, from this past weekend's Co-op meeting...

beauty-in-progress, from this past weekend’s Co-op meeting…

The SF Correspondence Co-op is hosting the Perennial Postcard Project for one day only, on Saturday, August 31st from 11am to 2pm.

it's the mail art "creation station"!...

it’s the mail art “creation station”!…

Wouldn’t it be great fun to come by and collage some artwork on a GIANT piece of paper, in order to receive a piece of that collage in the mail?



I think so too!

more mail art happening...

more mail art happening…

I hope you’ll be able to stop by table #96 and say howdy! And here’s a PSA for y’all: the Oakland Bay Bridge will be closing on Wednesday, August 28th thru September 3rd. If you’re travelling to SFZF from the east bay, be sure to plan accordingly!

In all things postal –


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via the "head vs. heart" blog...

via the “head vs. heart” blog…


Red Letter readers, I have something unbelievably exciting to share with you! I know its Monday. I understand the weekend’s over (sniff). But this is really really good, so I’ll need your undivided attention.

Ok, good.

Ready, set, go:

EXTRA! EXTRA! read all about it!!!

EXTRA! EXTRA! read all about it!!!

I am thrilled that you, dear readers, are among the first folks to learn about the Ex Postal Facto Conference – you’re hearing it here FIRST! Taking place February 2014 in San Francisco, Ex Postal Facto promises to be a three day, fun-filled celebration of correspondence art, faux philatelics and all things postal.

comin' right at'cha!

comin’ right at’cha!

Venues include the SF Center for the Book, the historic SF Elks Lodge, and the SF Public Library. A major mail art exhibition (and opening reception), vendor expo, and afternoon of lectures are already on the docket for February 14th – 16th. Believe it or not, there’s more to come; I’m hard at work with the Ex Postal crew, fine tuning details for the weekend. (saying that we’re sorta like Santa’s elves would not be too far from the mark…)

hey look! it's my palm pilot! (I NEVER get tired of that joke...)

hey look! it’s my palm pilot! (I NEVER get tired of that joke…)

So what does that mean? It means that I’m really, really, really hoping you’ll be able to join me and the Ex Postal crew here in San Francisco in February! This will be an historic gathering of new school and old school mail artists, artistamp makers and Networkers – in short: a MAJOR mail art congress will be taking place. And it’s really happening.

outgoing, with help from Neenah Papers...

outgoing, with help from Neenah Papers…

There are many ways to get involved, even if you’re not local to San Francisco. Would you like some “save the date” postcards to send to your mailing list? I’m happy to send you some! Want to submit artwork for the “mail/art/book” show at SF Center for the Book? Take a look here. Are you a blogger or interested in writing about Ex Postal Facto for a print publication? By all means, send me an email (or a postcard, whichever strikes your fancy!)



An event is only as good as the people participating. I am so very fortunate to have an excellent crew, an incredible co-curator for the mail art exhibition and amazing friends who have helped out with venue space. Moving forward, the next part of the process is equally exciting: finding a way to make sure all of my postal pals from near and far (that’s YOU GUYS) can be in attendance!

I'm ready to go to Ex Postal Facto!!!

I’m ready to go to Ex Postal Facto!!!

My fingers are crossed that we’ll all be in the same city next February. (that’s some pretty good news, huh? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!)

In all things postal –


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for you, and you, and YOU!

for you, and you, and YOU!

…even though it’s grey and foggy outside my studio window!

Today has been spent putting together/packaging all of the orders from the RLD store; thanks for stopping and shopping! Secretly, I love the “boxing and bundling” aspect of online orders: the special labels, the packing tape, selecting the perfectly sized box. Shall we discuss bubble wrap? (I know, I know: I hate packing peanuts too…)

Once everything was good to go, I sauntered off to the PO.

one of two bags, dont'cha know?

one of two bags, dont’cha know?

I’ll be listing more vintage and Japanese goodies this coming Friday; here’s a little tidbit for loyal readers: airmail stripes will be involved!

I’m just sayin’.

Last week was an exceptional week as far as postal yum-yums were concerned. I put together a video for RLD readers, so you can get an eyeful of all the awesome! I swear: I’m the luckiest girl on the planet when it comes to mailbox love. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel, each time I stop by the PO…awe struck? amazed? impressed beyond belief?

Yep — all of that. And incredibly fortunate.


(many of you mentioned in the “RLD Reader Poll” that you enjoyed watching videos and tutorials, so I’m going to be better about posting those items!)

Back at the studio: I’m putting together some blank journals — with any luck I’ll have these guys for sale at SF Zine Fest  (August 31/Sept. 1st), along with some other zine items which are currently in progress…




And there are a handful of projects that I am SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED to write about, but I’m not allowed to mention them yet. However, in the upcoming weeks, you can bet your favorite rubber stamp that RLD readers will be among the first correspondents on the block to hear all of the big news. Believe me: it’s B-I-G!

this little sign is going somewhere important!

this little sign is going somewhere important!

That being said (written?), I’ll sign off for now. How are you guys doing? Are remarkable and inspiring mail received lately? Let us know!



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those lydia mendoza stamps are SMOKIN'...

those lydia mendoza stamps are SMOKIN’…

I have returned from the great state up north (Oregon) where I had a most excellent time teaching at the Focus on Book Arts Conference. All of my students were enthusiastic and ready-to-bind, even in overly warm classrooms (it was in the 90s all weekend!) The conference organizers were helpful and well practiced in the ways of running a two day event. I met some of my book arts heroes! What more can a girl ask for? (ed. –> cake.)

you know that feeling when you return home from vacation?...

you know that feeling when you return home from vacation?…

I was happy to get back to SF, since I have a mountain of projects staring me in the face. But before I could do any sort of work, I had to get down to business.

that feeling of "it's so good to be home, but DAMN this place is a wreck..."

that feeling of “it’s so good to be home, but DAMN this place is a wreck…”

“Business” meant cleaning, sorting, and organizing the studio. Stacking, piling, putting things into boxes. (ed. –> that will be a whole post in-and-of-itself, in the future) For the time being: I’m a whirling dervish of organization…

And that means great things for RLD readers!



As you may know (or suspect), I have a studio full of things that are delicious, postally speaking. Gridded paper, address books from the ’40’s (pristine!), rubber stamps from Japan: I’ve got it all and then some. Many items I’ve been holding on to for years; some things have been acquired via trips to Tokyo. Other items just find their way to my house. (ed. –> you know how it goes.)

Now the time has come to send some of these first rate goodies out into the world, let other correspondence kids and mail art aficionados put them to good — no, GREAT– use.

somehow, I managed to get a few things sent out this week...

somehow, I managed to get a few things sent out this week…

On Friday, July 19th I’ll be updating the RLD store with a handful of new product — a little something for everyone! Quantities are limited and some items are “one off’s”; I’ve only got one, and when it’s gone, it’s gone so get ‘em while they’re hot! Preview photos and prices are currently posted in the RLD store, so feel free to wander over and take a look.

As a bonus: each order placed through August 1st will receive an additional present and I’ll give you a hint: it’s a postal related zine!

without you, I'm nothing...

without you, I’m nothing…

So there you have it! Sort of like Christmas in July, in a manner of speaking. I can guarantee you’ll find a little treat for yourself and you won’t have to bake a single fruitcake…

In all things postal –


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