Jennifer Kosharek’s mail art is recognizable in any stack of postcards and incoming mail: usually, her work involves a brightly colored postcard with a moon-faced smiling creature on the front, done in a riot of pen and ink, watercolor, and pastels. You may or may not be able to place which planet the benignly smiling character is from, but the chances are highly likely that a Kosharek postcard will make you smile, nudge the person standing next to you, and say “take a look at this one!” (which I’ve done at the post office on numerous occasions…) It’s as if a little ray of sunshine has beamed itself into your PO box.
A few years on, Jennifer and I have exchanged mail art and correspondence on a fairly regular basis. When she announced in January of this year that she would be opening a gallery space in the historic Crislip building in St. Petersburg FL., I thought to myself “that seems so natural, like a step in the right direction”. The weeks and months have sailed by, and it has been a treat to watch the gallery’s progress; every month brings a new opening, a new event, a new crowd of folks coming through the front door.
From a mail artist’s perspective, I was interested in knowing a bit more about that particular aspect of her gallery, eve-N-odd. I fired off an email, and a few days later – viola! An interview for RLD readers, and a giveaway as well! (read through to the end of the interview for details on the giveaway…)
Red Letter Day: please tell RLD readers a little bit about eve-N-odd gallery? What motivated you to open a gallery, and what is Eve-N-Odd’s connection to the mail art community?
Jennifer Kosharek: I opened the gallery because it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time. I was selling a lot of work locally and the gallery that was handling some of my work was closing. So I decided to take the risk and open my own small space. I began thinking of artists who I would like to represent. My first picks were mail artists in my personal network. There are so many talented, prolific artists in the mail art network. Here are some mail artists that I currently carry: David Berube, Richard Canard, Dewi, Matthew Rose, Bibiana Padilla Maltos, and Red Letter Day! (yippee! –editor)
I also carry the work of local St. Petersburg artists, work that I purchase on Etsy and work of artists that I meet on Facebook.
eve-N-odd gallery was named by mail artist David Berube, while we were in facebook chat. We were brainstorming back and forth and he bore our art gallery child… eve-N-odd. David has taken a strong role in the gallery, participating in monthly shows and supplying the gallery with his hand block printed postcards, his designer t-shirts and his metal sculptural pieces.
RLD: how long have you been participating in mail art circles? Have you had any time to send anything out lately?
JK: My first official mail art show was “Myth America: International Correspondence Art Exhibition, 1991.” I’m so glad I kept the documentation for the show because it seems to me that I’ve meet some of the people in it! John Held Jr. wrote the article in it called, “From Moticos to Mail Art: Five Decades of Postal Networking.” I met John last year in NYC for the show he was hosting (with Picasso Gaglione) at the Stendhal gallery.
I hosted my first mail art show in 1995 when I lived in Amman, Jordan. I was teaching children with mental handicaps and thought receiving mail art would be a good way to expose them to more art! The show only received about 5 pieces, mostly from a family in Singapore! But, the mail system in the middle east can be somewhat problematic.
I have to say that I never knew there was a Network and I didn’t realize that I could just mail work to anyone that I found in the Myth America document. So mail art fell by the wayside for me, as I finished my college degree and started a family. Not that I didn’t continue to send “mail art” letters to family and friends, because I did — I just wasn’t part of a network of believers.
I ran into some really depressing times in my life. And I began to look for something to fill that void in my soul. I vaguely remembered mail art… and with the grand invention of the internet and google… I began researching mail art. I found your call for postcards for your mail art book and sent you one. (AHA! The piece of mail Jennifer is referring to made it onto the cover of “Good Mail Day”; take a look at your books! That prancing lion on the lower right-hand side is hers… –editor) I started hosting my own mail art shows. After the first show – “self portrait” — I started a blog : www.jenniferzoe.blogspot.com “Chromatophore” was the next show and then last year was “UR Toy Story”.
RLD: the “Utopia/Dystopia” (which will open at the gallery on July 7th) seems to be a yearly mail art CFE for you. What is the significance of this theme?
JK: I picked Utopia/Dystopia because it seems like there is so much “end of the world” talk in the news and in religious venues that I wanted to address the idea of a perfect society. With so much political rhetoric going on, I wanted to know what people thought was the perfect world or the opposite of that—dystopia.
RLD: I’ve noticed that you have been making appearances at many of the FluxFests that have been happening around the U.S. (FluxFest Chicago, Fluxfest NYC); can you tell readers a bit about your work with the new crop of contemporary fluxus artists?
JK: I began working with the Fluxus crowd when I met Keith Buchholz in NYC for the “A Book About Death Show” at the Emily Harvey Gallery. (“A Book About Death” is a series of mailings that Ray Johnson did between 1963 and 1965; for a solid overview of ABAD, RLD readers can go here. –editor) This was my first experience with Fluxus. It just seemed to make sense to me, the fact that it didn’t make sense. Going to the ABAD show was like meeting sisters and brothers that I never knew I had. When Keith Buchholz met me that day, he made me feel like a rock star because of my mail art work. It felt like “hey another person who is one of us.” I can’t begin to tell you how much that meant to me.
I met so many people that night at the Harvey (the Emily Harvey Gallery, which hosted the first iteration of the current ABAD project. –editor). It was the most magical weekend of my life. Meeting Bill Wilson, and seeing his Ray Johnson and May Wilson collections up close and personal was amazing — really, I have Keith to thank for inviting me to these events. It just seemed natural that I would return to New York City for Fluxus events. I also held a mail art and fluxus performance weekend in St. Petersburg last September. Keith attended, in addition to Reed Altemus, Truman Bentley Jr., Mudhead, Bibiana Padilla Maltos, Reid Wood, Andrew Topel and Ginny Lloyd.
RLD: if you had to sum up your “mail art philosophy” in a single sentence, what would it be?
JK: “Intend to Send”–jennifer kosharek
Red Letter Day would like to thank Jennifer for her lovely and insightful answers to these questions – much success in this new venture. eve-N-odd gallery is a friend to mail artists everywhere; Jennifer’s enthusiasm, patience, and guidance will insure that eve-N-odd becomes a haven for creativity and community. (JK, you’re a superstar! –editor)
— to follow Jennifer’s eve-N-odd adventures…
— or take a look at what’s incoming to her mail box…
–if you’re on facebook and would like to see more examples of Jennifer’s work, just search “jennnifer kosharek”
And now – the giveaway!
This contest will run for the next 24 hours, and end at noon PST on June 10th, 2011. There are two prize packages to give away; winners will be notified at contest’s end via email (so make sure I’ve got your email addy!) Here’s what you need to do:
- Write down Jennifer’s mailing address: Jennifer Kosharek, 665 Jasmine Way South, St.Petersburg, FL. 33705
- Create a piece of mail art, stamped and addressed to Jennifer.
- Take a photo of yourself placing the mail art (address side up!) into a “blue box” (a blue PO box) or dropping it into a mail slot at your local PO. More than one photo is fine, if you want to show off your hard work!
- Send your RLD editor the photo at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The first two people to submit their photos will each receive a prize package! Your photo will be used on the RLD blog, in order to announce the winners.
Questions? Post ‘em here, and I’ll answer ASAP.
Good luck and have fun!