MinXus Mail Bag: Vispo Collabs by Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

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Mail art by Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow (Roanoke, Virginia, USA)

This summer we received two large packages of mail art from visual poet Jim Leftwich in Roanoke, the first of which (chronologically) we are documenting in this blog. The vast majority of the pieces are collaborations between Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow. (The exception is one very interesting asemic work at the end.) According to Facebook, Evan Damerow resides in New Zealand. His work was unknown to us before the arrival of this missive.

While Jim Leftwich seems to us inclined toward the prolific naturally, we attribute some of this outpouring of work this summer to the 2015 Marginal Arts Festival. The event seems to have been a great success and a perusal of the documentation will be rewarding to Tenderfoots, no doubt:

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The Anti-Brain Rot mail art call and exhibition also accompanied the festival, which occurred in July (2015). Here is some partial documentation of the entries via C. Mehrl Bennett (Columbus, Ohio, USA):

https://cmehrlbennett.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/the-anti-brain-rot-mailart-exhibit/

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Unless otherwise indicated, all the pieces shown here are Jim Leftwich-Evan Damerow collabs.

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These Leftwich-Damerow collabs hold specific interest to the trashpoets and D-Kulters in the network (many of whom are rabid followers of our humble blog), as Jim Leftwich is acknowledged as having created some of the earliest Trashpo (2005). These pieces (the current work shown here) use found material, have the organic structure so recognizable in most Trashpo and also show the anti-art stance and the On the Road spontaneity of Trashpo composition.

Trashpo is a form of visual poetry. (Many current practitioners are either unaware of or disregard this fact). The pieces documented here make abundant and innovative use of text, text-image associations and juxtapositions, cut up, disruption, asemics and other approaches that are related to poetry and the poetic as well as the tenets of Trashpo rather than mere collage. In short, they are excellent examples. The work transcends Trashpo in many ways yet still offers insights into Trashpo theory and practice for the working trashpoet.

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A bonus in the package was the piece below: “Spirit Writing” by Jim Leftwich (1997), a piece of historical significance because it was made so early in the context of the current thriving and burgeoning asemic movement. Jim Leftwich, however, and as many know, has reservations concerning the use of the term “asemic” and having his own work labeled as asemic writing. So we encourage Tenderfoots to consider the perspective of visual poetry here, although we believe the tide of history is very likely to identify Jim Leftwich as an asemic writer (among other designations):

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A closer look:

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Many thanks to Jim Leftwich and Evan Damerow!

MinXus Mail Bag: “Posturban Wildlife at Night” by Joey Patrickt (Oakland, California, USA)

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Mail art by Joey Patrickt (Oakland, California, USA)

Joey Patrickt sent us this highly conceptual, textual-visual work that raises questions about meaning and randomness, among other issues. Our approach is to see the various pieces posted here as a single, unified artwork. The puzzle stands at the center.

The pieces in the envelope reveal his keen sense of humor and irony as well as his ability to construct systems and structures. Initially, we appreciated Joey Patrickt’s ability to create self-contained, postcard-style pieces that have instant appeal in the network. But as this and other pieces we have received from him indicate, he has formidable talent as a conceptualist who can put together a compelling package.

The majority of the material is cut from old publications:

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And the reverse:

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Joey Patrickt references “POSTURBAN,” but this mail art conjures the postmodern. The work focuses on the process of weaving materials together into structures and designs. These objects can express meaning but also have both spiritual and utilitarian functions. Also included is a piece about floors:

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Absurdity is working here, as is Joey Patrickt’s ongoing critique of consumer culture. Are vinyl floors and oriental carpets being purposely placed in relation to each other? The unaltered page has the quality of Trashpo mailings, which often contain this kind of unadorned found material. The purpose is ambiguous. and this piece of mail art retains ambiguity. The recipient can view such inclusions as finished art or use it in a new piece or simply pass it along. Here is the reverse side:

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“POSTURBAN WILDLIFE AT NIGHT” is, in our estimation, an exceptionally done piece of mail art in the conceptual art strain. We can make the case that it is a thoughtfully constructed system intended to make a point about process and meaning. Yet a tension exists where the tropes that establish its meaning threaten to collapse into an envelope of nothing but old magazine clippings and a plastic puzzle. Many people must view it that way. And it is precisely the “shadow of doubt” that gives the work its true strength. We are compelled to consider what is and is not art. We are compelled to consider the relation of constructs to reality. We can glimpse – perhaps just for a moment – a place where art and life are a unified whole. Many thanks, again, to Joey Patrickt!.

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MinXus Mail Bag: Schwitterspo by Eric Durante (Waldwick, New Jersey, USA)

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Mail art by Erica Durante (Waldwick, New Jersey, USA)

Erica Durante is an awesome correspondent, especially given her gargantuan responsibilities as President of DKult New Jersey (DKULTJER).

So far this summer she has sent us two pieces we are thrilled to share today. The first (above) is mounted on sturdy cardboard. Eric Durante has ventured squarely into the textual-visual realm (and makes an additional connection to music) with both pieces. There is certainly an emphasis on materiality.

Lately in Trashpo circles, there have been discussions about the influence of Kurt Schwitters. Indeed claims have been made Schwitters is the true “Godfather of Trashpo.” A certain faction of trashpoets see themselves aligned with and pledge allegiance to Schwitters, sometimes disavowing other historical connections. Discussions about the relation of Schwitters to Trashpo are not new. Some time ago we proposed the term “Schwitterspo” be adopted as a subset of Trashpo to accommodate this group of Kurt fans, although DKult can never be DKurt.

We are not suggesting Erica Durante is making a conscious homage to Kurt Schwitters and Schwitterspo in these pieces, yet artists frequently channel ideas that are “in the air.” This great mail art builds upon a rich avant tradition from the 20th century that owes a great deal to Schwitters. Erica Durante brings it into the 21st century and makes it uniquely her own.

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An earlier piece received from Erica Durante uses her file card approach but also has the Schwitterspo tonality:

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And the reverse:

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Thanks as ever to Erica Durante.

MinXus Mail Bag: Walmarth Advertising Supplement by Cascadia Artpost (Olympia, Washington, USA) with Mail Art Martha (Beckenham, UK)

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Mail art by Cascadia Artpost aka Jack Lattemann (Olympia, Washington, USA) based on art and concepts by Mail Art Martha (Beckenham, UK) and Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA)

Cascadia Artpost has helped realize the artistic visions of Mail Art Martha and Diane Keys through marvelous models and now an incredible publication which is currently circulating in the Eternal Network.

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Trashpo and DKult have always promoted an ideology of anti-consumerism and pro-recycling. Trashpo is, after all, a form of recycling. Mail Art Martha was well-known in the network for her trash trolley and use of found material long before she joined forces with DKult. She has helped make DKULTUK one of the best known and most innovative DKult chapters in the world. Mail Art Martha’s Walmarth Corporation is an entertaining and witty parody of corporate, consumer culture. Cascadia Artpost’s painstaking realization of Mail Art Martha’s ideas through detailed, special effects style models makes Walmarth Corporation one of the crowning achievements of Trashpo in the half-decade that it has been producing a large quantity of art.

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For those who believe Trashpo is simply collecting candy bar wrappers on the street and mailing them to people, Cascadia Artpost and Mail Art Martha reveal that the practice yields a wide variety of literary and visual creations. All that is required is imagination. The center section of the Walmarth Advertising Supplement includes usable stickers:

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Both Mail Art Martha and Diane Keys have created numerous Trashpo devices and inventions. Cascadia Artpost references these in the publication and offers new products as well.

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Diane Keys has proposed ideas for a Trashpo and DKult economy aka the D-Konomy, although the specifics of the program are not entirely clear at this time.

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And the back cover of the Walmarth Advertising Supplement:

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We have no doubt that this ingenious work by Cascadia Artpost is one of the great achievements of Trashpo and is destined for a place in Eternal Network history. We also applaud the collaborative nature of the work, which integrates and acknowledges the contributions of Mail Art Martha and Diane Keys, among others.

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MinXus Mail Bag: Altered postcard by Babs Bird (London, UK)

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Mail art by Babs Bird (London, UK)

“who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall…”

– Allen Ginsberg in Howl

A biggy “Howdy” and a secret Mink Ranch handshake are extended to Babs Bird. This is her first appearance upon our humble page.

The postcard is a dominant form in contemporary mail art. Babs Bird’s reconfigurations of the postcard foundation through collage are fascinating and an interesting, self-reflective commentary on correspondence art. In this piece and in her work we have seen elsewhere, Babs Bird takes utilitarian, rote and often contrived postcard images and alters them so they express a different, sometimes contrary, narrative or message. The original model village/tin mining image in this piece received is, we believe, brilliantly deconstructed.

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And as for the fave Allen Ginsberg quote that opened this humble blog

“who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall….”

Babs Bird of London has been active on the IUOMA-Ning platform in recent weeks. Today when we went there to find some information about her, we found her gone. A click into her profile produced only a big paragraph of garbled code. Maybe it is a tech glitch at our end. Who knows? We have miles to go and promises to keep, as somebody once said.

Perhaps we will never encounter Babs Bird again. So many thanks for this wonderful mail art.

MinXus Mail Bag: UK = UnKnown Trashpo (Liverpool, UK)

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Mail art by unknown trashpoet (Liverpool, UK)

We have received some wonderful, D-Klassic, anti-art derived Trashpo from Liverpool in Britain. Unfortunately, we are unable to identify the sender and do not recognize him/her as any DKULTUK member we know. We are exceedingly grateful to receive this mail art. The work is on a small, almost delicate, scale and reflects considerable understanding of Trashpo and/or its antecedents.

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These are very small pieces, the largest hardly an inch wide. Our trashpoet has been very discerning in terms of the textual aspect, color and texture. Thus the work has a haptic dimension. The envelope is fantastic:

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And the reverse:

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We cannot place an “L.C.S.” but consider him/her a very fine trashpoet/mail artist. Whether we eventually make a connection or not, deepest thanks to L.C.S.

MinXus Mail Bag: Lucky Bucks for Diane Keys’ Irish Guide Dog (Charleston, South Carolina, USA)

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Mail art by Lucky Pierre (Charleston, South Carolina, USA)

This is slightly convoluted. Queen of Trashpo Diane Keys (Elgin, Illinois, USA) posted a comment saying she might be losing her eyesight or at least we, representing DKult New York, thought that is what we read. So we began a campaign to raise funds to buy her a seeing-eye dog. This would not be just any seeing-eye dog. This would be a seeing-eye dog from Ireland. Somewhere we got the idea that Irish seeing-eye dogs were superior to all others. Any questions? The campaign is closed because DK did not lose her eyesight after all. Crisis averted.

The ever-compassionate and always resourceful Lucky Pierre responded quickly.

Mail artists have a fascinating tradition of printing fake currencies. Fluxus Bucks are probably the best-known example. Given the alternative art concept, exploration of alternative economies seems almost logical in the network. And DKulters have explored the idea of a D-Konomy (an alternative economy based on Diane Keys’ theories) although both theory and practice are vague at this point in time.

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So, while Diane Keys’ brush with blindness – fortunately – proved to be a false alarm, the Lucky Buck – also fortunately – was born. We hope to see more and that they become a part of the various kinds of trash dollars (trash dolls) that are in circulation. Lucky Pierre put the Lucky Buck in what appears to be an old wedding invitation. Recycling, after all, is a core value of Trashpo:

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Lucky Pierre’s kind message:

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The Lucky Buck came in a FAB envelope:

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And the reverse:

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As ever, many thanks to Lucky Pierre!

A Note on Fluxus Bucks

Fluxus Bucks were created by Julie Jeffries (USA) in the 1990s. They are a world unto themselves or at least a mail art genre. Make sure to take a look:

http://iuoma-network.ning.com/group/fluxusbuckscreators

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