MinXus Mail Bag: Bern Porter tribute by Susan McAllister (Berkeley, California, USA)

Susan - 4.16.2014 - 1

Mail-art by Susan McAllister (Berkeley, California, USA)

Here at the Mink Ranch, we’re digging out from a long winter of snow and ice as well as the debris of The Who Has The Best Hair Contest: Our greatest MinXus “Happening” to date. The glamour and excitement of the contest was a fantastic experience; however, we must admit, the drama and the unexpected twists and turns left us a bit drained. We’ve recovered only to find a pile of absolutely stupendous mail-art that we have neglected to post. So, dear Tenderfoots, bear with us as we share the work and gradually, it is hoped, bring ourselves up-to-date.

First, our faithful correspondent in Berkeley, Susan Mc Allister, sent us this wonderful tribute to Bern Porter. In this piece, Susan remains consistent with her skillful use of red and black, which we have noted and praised in previous posts. Her ability to produce organically structured collage with found material is very evident in this postcard-size piece and is engaging as ever. We believe the integration of the Bern Porter poem into the work (both sides) qualifies this particular mailing as a true visual poem. Here is the reverse side:

A wonderful poem and one we had not read before! More seasoned Tenderfoots will, no doubt, share our enthusiasm. Others might reasonably ask: Who is Bern Porter?

Bern Porter (1911-2004) was an American scientist turned artist and poet whose fascinating life intersected with just about every avant garde movement of the 20th century. He is fairly considered one of the first USA Dadaists due to his preference for found materials. While his reputation continues to grow and he is increasingly being recognized as a vastly influential figure, he was for most of his life an underground activist, a conscientious objector in terms of mainstream art establishments. As you might expect, he was very active in the mail-art network for decades. In fact, he even claimed to have invented mail-art (a lofty contention when one considers the presence of Ray Johnson).

So here at the Mink Ranch, we have been Bern Porter fans for some time. We are absolutely thrilled to have been able to introduce him to Susan McAllister. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for some time and was a contributor to the rich culture there, including the famed Berkeley (aka San Francisco) Renaissance. Susan is discovering his role as a local legend in her neighborhood.

We offer our deepest thanks to Susan McAllister for this lovely and thoughtful work; it will have a special place in the MinXus USA Archives.
You might also want to visit Bern Porter at MOMA:
http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/lostandfound/
Bern Porter at Miekal And’s Xexoxial Editions:
http://xexoxial.org/is/books/by/bern_porter

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