MinXus Mail Bag: Ray Johnson Exhibition Catalog with William S. Wilson Essay from Alicia Starr (Iowa City, Iowa, USA)

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Alicia Starr is exceptionally kind, generous and thoughtful. She sent us a copy of the Challenging Rectangles catalog that was available at a very popular Ray Johnson exhibit in New York City last year. This beautiful catalog, with an essay by William S. Wilson, was apparently issued several years before the recent exhibition that garnered so much praise and generated so much excitement. Unfortunately, we did not attend the show, which makes Alicia Starr’s gesture all the more touching.

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Given copyright concerns, we will provide Tenderfoots with excerpts and not re-publish the entire catalog.

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William S. Wilson was close friends with Ray Johnson. He is one of the leading Johnson experts and scholars. Last year, he was active in the network, sending mail to many artists. We were thrilled he included MinXus-Lynxus. (We discovered after the fact our mystery artist was William S. Wilson):

https://minxuslynxus2.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/minxus-mail-bag-mystery-mail-art-from-new-york-city-stuffed-with-ray-johnson-material/

As you might expect, the Wilson essay is FAB. Here is a small excerpt:

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You can read the complete essay here:

http://images.rayjohnsonestate.com/www_rayjohnsonestate_com/ChallengingRect_Wilson.pdf

The catalog includes images of some great art by Ray Johnson:

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Note the reference to the legendary Blue Eyes Club.

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Many thanks Alicia Starr!

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MinXus Mail Bag: Fish Neck is the New Fork Lint by C. Mehrl Bennett (Columbus, Ohio, USA)

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Mail-art by C. Mehrl Bennett (Columbus, Ohio, USA)

Somewhere along the meandering and dusty trail between Infinity and Columbus, John M. Bennett coined the term “fork lint,” which captured the fancy of trashpoets and DKulters especially. At best, “fork lint” is an authentic, floating, indeterminate signifier. Attaching itself to Trashpo, “fork lint” birthed Lintpo and related concepts and projects. For instance, circa 2011 Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA) mailed John M. Bennett a bag of lint. This was possibly the height of the Lintpo phenom, although we’re not sure:

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Our brief investigation also revealed the video of a Fork Lint performance piece of more recent origin:

Regardless of the history, C. Mehrl Bennett – it so great to receive mail from her – has informed us, and now you – dear Tenderfoots – that “fork lint” has been usurped by “fish neck.” Of course we are (initially) perplexed. We are grateful for the news and confident we will soon adapt to the “fish neck” reality. On the reverse side, C. Mehrl Bennett includes a tantalizingly open field that we can imagine filling with asemics and returning to her:

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Many thanks to C. Mehrl Bennett. We are possibly out of the “fork lint” loop and have missed some valuable information that provides a more solid context. Updates are always appreciated to serve the common good. Otherwise it shall remain: “Onward and pass the fork lint.”

MinXus Mail Bag: A Little More Syntax from Linda French (Two Harbors, Minnesota, USA)

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Mail-art by Linda French (Two Harbors, Minnesota, USA)

Tenderfoot Linda French is as prolific as she is generous. She sent us another gorgeous piece to decorate our humble page.

We look forward to receiving mail from Linda French because we believe her work so wonderfully represents a large segment of the current mail art scene. (Many Tenderfoots have noted we often look backward down the long & dusty trail to earlier eras.) Observers have noted that the mainstream in contemporary mail art is best characterized as a kind of folk art rather than conceptual art rooted in the New York Correspondance School that dominated for decades. The view is controversial and debatable, although we have come to accept it as a general trend (while registering the avant strain also seems very much alive and well.)

We agree that the current folk art tendency exists, have even named it Maille Art NoveauX. Perhaps it is better described as a neo-primitivism or a benign outsider art. If mail art inherently promotes the egalitarian, participatory culture and the anti-institutional, then a naïve populism is indeed another possible permutation in the algorithm of need.

It can be argued that the Old Mail Art (can we call it that?) was hopelessly elitist. Sure, anyone could participate. But the vast majority could not find it because it was underground, and they were thus excluded through lack of association. Those most likely to be excluded were, in the parlance of the avant, the bourgeoisie. (An old adage went something like this: “Mail-art is a very few eccentric geniuses and a whole lot of crazy people.”) For a very long time, the enterprise was essentially controlled by elites in New York City and European cultural centers and the goal was their own self promotion except in the cases of acute revolutionary zeal.

If these issues of unfairness did indeed exist, then the internet and the new participants it has brought to the network have served as a corrective. We are closer to having attained a true equality, and yet another exotic practice (and lifestyle) has become a hobby option for the middle class. Is that so bad? Surely somewhere someone is raging about it. As in all such cultural evolution, a vexing question is: Who has changed whom? Or was change ever a possibility or goal in the first place?

Perhaps the network is fragmenting into segments that could eventually become warring camps. Or perhaps the impression that all networkers are joined together in a shared cause has always been an illusion and propaganda.

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Many thanks, as ever, to Linda French in Minnesota.

MinXus Mail Bag: New Asemics by Jan Hodgman (Anacortes, Washington, USA)

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Mail art by Jan Hodgman (Anacortes, Washington, USA)

We are thrilled to share work recently received from Jan Hodgman. She has a natural interest in and talent for asemics, and we are glad to be able to document the evolution of her work. This piece has – in our estimation – some extraordinary layering that yields upon examination bits of text, stamps and asemically suggestive shapes produced by chance. While very textual, the color is deeply expressive as well, providing a context for some very interesting symbols.

Composition involved a collage method, and the raised contours add a haptic quality. Jan Hodgman’s work here shares many elements in common with vispo being produced in the USA today, especially from the great centers in the Midwest that have and still continue to produce important innovations. (Hodgman’s work is technically an asemic-vispo hybrid in the eyes of a purist.)

Hodgman makes the same excellent use of layering and distortion that we find in the work of Matthew Stolte in Madison, Wisconsin. However, whereas Stolte and other key figures such as David Baptiste-Chirot (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA) strive to capture the social and industrial decay they see in their environments with disruption and discord, Jan Hodgman’s work – to us anyway – is meditative, calm, subtle and even harmonious, given that what was known as “modernity” in the 20th century is still a primary mode in her work. This essential difference with many of her (mostly male) contemporaries can be explained by the fact that she has immersed herself in Zen Buddhist studies and is a Soto Zen Priest. Her spirituality has likely found its way into her asemics with very interesting results.

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Many thanks to Jan Hodgman for the mail-art and for her involvement in asemics and the asemic writing group at the IUOMA.

 

MinXus Mail Bag: Meeah Williams Sends A D-Klaration of Independence (Brooklyn, New York, USA)

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Mail art by Meeah Williams (Brooklyn, New York, USA)

Tenderfoots, especially those with an interest in Trashpo and DKult, are doubtless aware that the once monolithic DKult New York (DKULTNY) chapter is crumbling or – depending upon how you see it – DKULTNY is undergoing a radical transformation that is likely to result in several distinct chapters in New York State. Meeah Williams has announced the formation of a chapter separate from DKULTNY: DKult Brooklyn. The more DKULTNY protests, the more Meeah Williams affirms DKult Brooklyn.

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Our purpose in posting this blog is not to fan the flames of the controversy nor to give credibility to Meeah Williams’ divisive actions. We do believe this is mail-art worthy of documentation and hope the issues can be settled by DKult leadership. Meeah Williams included this rendering of Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA) in the package she sent us:

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Depiction of Diane Keys by Meeah Williams

The message seems to be that despite contentious argument about chapter structures, trashpoets are united in their adoration of DK. We must admit to favoring the various DKULTNY depictions of the Queen of Trash:

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Official DKULTNY image of DK

Meeah Williams also included this erasure poem:

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And a collage on the reverse side:

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While the envelope has the usual obfuscation, we have learned to recognize a missive from Meeah Williams.

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And the reverse:

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Many thanks to Meeah Williams. We hope you enjoy DKult New Jersey.

MinXus Mail Bag: Fab Collabs by Mudhead & Alyssum (Payson, Arizona, USA)

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Mail-art by Mudhead & Alyssum (Payson, Arizona, USA)

Chris “Mudhead” Reynolds is widely known and highly regarded throughout the Eternal Network. He is a Mink Ranch fave as well, and many Tenderfoots have enjoyed his work on our humble pages. We are thrilled to share with you now some absolutely spectacular new work by Mudhead done in collaboration with Alyssum (Moinet). We know little about her, but surely many others will agree with us that the two of them are an incredible team. Alyssum’s talent shines equally with Mudhead, and that is a feat unto itself.

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Trademark Mudhead styles, themes and preoccupations are present in these works. Yet Alyssum is a powerful presence who enhances, deepens and transforms. We greatly admire these marvelous creations.

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The “Seers” theme is still being explored in the Mudhead vortex. The eye in the pyramid motif in this piece is very interesting. While Mudhead and Alyssum are both smashing visual artists, they work in the textual realm as well, which – of course – we also greatly appreciate:

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And the reverse:

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We like this piece in particular:

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Mudhead (we’ll attribute this part to him) has a FAB street art style that often has an asemic slant. Here is another:

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And on the reverse side:

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Abundant and constant collaboration – the willingness to collaborate – help give mail art vitality. Some collaborative teams have better chemistry than others. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing certain pairings or groupings of artists would work together longer than they do because the results are so exceptional. Alyssum and Mudhead are just such a case for us. We find the energy and creativity in these pieces make something greater than the mere sum of the parts. and so we hope for more.

The envelope is spectacular as well:

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The other side:

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Alyssum Moinet does have a blog where she has posted these pieces along with other interesting material:

http://everyonemoment.blogspot.com/2015/01/outgoing-to-devillo-sloan.html

She is definitely someone to keep on the radar. Many thanks to Alyssum and Mudhead!

MinXus Mail Bag: Our Barfa Stewart Tacky Gift from Rebecca Guyver (Suffolk, UK)

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Mail-art by Rebecca Guyver depicting Queen of Trash Diane Keys (Suffolk, UK)

The very late posting of this wonderful mail-art gift from Rebecca Guyver is the result of us having for some time sought not to acknowledge or to actually attempt to conceal our, what has proven to be, disastrous involvement in last holiday season’s Barfa Stewart Tacky Gift Exchange, which was organized on Facebook and attracted a veritable Who’s Who of trashpoets and high-profile mail artists.

Due to circumstances beyond our feeble attempt at “damage control,” we are now offering a degree of “transparency” concerning our involvement in the Barfa Stewart Tacky Gift Exchange. We wish to publically thank Rebecca Guyver, as she seems to have had the great misfortune of drawing our names by chance and has thus been sucked into the whirlwind of controversy and derision now associated with our innocent attempt to exchange gifts and accusations that we sought to profit from receiving gifts without reciprocating, running a “scam,” as they say. (Make no mistake, dear Tenderfoots, we limped away scathed and pummeled from an event that brought joy to so many others.)

Certainly, Rebecca is in no way involved with comments we here at the mink ranch are alleged to have made: that the organizer of the Barfa Stewart Tacky Gift Exchange is a “retard” and anyone who participated is “a mindless trashsnake with too much time on their hands.” We challenge anyone to prove we ever made these wretched comments; and we denounce those comments that, by the way, do not begin to match in vulgarity and rudeness the insults hurled upon us.

Furthermore, we will not dignify with any narrative or explanation the sordid public lynching we received on Facebook at the hands of expert and experienced assassins such as KDJ Jay and her band of hoodlum “friends.” We still weep at the loss of an old and dear friend as the result of a misunderstanding concerning our attempt to find a suitable gift. The damage would likely not be so great if a chorus of cackling jackals had not fueled the flames into a kind of napalm bombing. Suffice to say, “Today I went out to look for a gift for Lisa,” is a line now etched in the memories of likely hundreds of individuals.

Having addressed the context, we now rise from the dusty trail where we fell, brush ourselves off, climb back upon our horse and share our Barfa Stewart Tacky Gift from Rebecca Guyver. Inside the very large envelope, was a huge DKult stocking:

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The boot was too large to scan, so we hope you get the idea. Here is the reverse side:

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Sheet music was stuffed inside the DKult boot:

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This one (above) has a FAB mink ranch theme.

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The DK snowman (an actual pic of Diane Keys) is one of our faves, so we present a second attempt at documentation:

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Rebecca Guyver’s custom is always to include a detailed note, and the Barfa Stewart exchange was no exception:

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Rebecca also included an amazing DKulter stamp:

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And the gigantic envelope:

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And the reverse:

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Deepest thanks to Rebecca Guyver for helping us to salvage some good from an otherwise horrific experience.

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