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!

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MinXus Mail Bag: Collaborative DKult Narrative by res and Tammy Riggins (Clarksville, Tennessee, USA)

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Mail art by res including stamp by Tammy Riggins (Clarksville, Tennessee, USA)

“Trashpo has no future, only a present.”

– Diane Keys

Of course the reigning Queen of Trash Diane Keys never said that; it is a reworking of a quote appropriated from Ray Johnson and altered. The fraudulent quote is, however, an authentic example of the “collaborative narrative” that drives DKult as a mail art activity.

res, a gifted network newcomer who seeks to stay under the radar on the internet (thus the lack of personal info), took to the DKult collective narrative like, as they say, a duck to water with this wonderful, large collage she sent us. In a kind note she informed us: “The center bunny stamp is by Tammy Riggins. She gave me permission to reuse it.” So both res and Tammy Riggins have contributed to the lore of DKult. We want to take this opportunity to extend a biggy “Howdy” and a secret MinXus handshake to both res and Tammy who make on this eventful day their first appearance upon our humble blog.

We are always thrilled to have new artists who are not “insiders” contribute to the DKult narrative. Trashpo is a form of visual poetry made with found material. That requires little explanation and anyone can do it. DKult, we gather, is more mystifying to the uninitiated. Really, it is the equivalent of one of the many mail art fan clubs built around people, objects, activities, etc. For instance, the IUOMA has a Richard Canard Fan Club as well as a Moan Lisa Fan Club. We might have called it the DKFC (Diane Keys Fan Club) only it would be associated with fried chicken and The Colonel (just joking).

DKult differs from a regular fan club due to the “collaborative narrative” where any participant can – in any way they want – contribute to the story of the past, present and future of DKult. This experiment has been going on for five years now with spectacular results and many, many contributions. Unfortunately, the narrative has become so complex, convoluted and contradictory that it is nearly impossible to follow. That probably contributes to the current state of confusion. We have a huge cast of characters, some actual people, some fictional, and some – we are not sure.

res does blaze new trails here, taking DKult back to medieval times. No one has done this before. We have in other DKult narratives references to the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO crash in the 1940s and DK’s psychic ancestors in Russia at the time of Rasputin but nothing further back, as far as we know. We have a clandestine organization named T.O.X.I.S. bent on the destruction of DKult (for some reason) and a place in Mexico called The Clinic where maybe you have been but do not remember. res has also created a work dense with arcane symbols, anachronisms and floating signifiers, which all are staples of the DKult narrative. It is a great contribution.

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Deepest thanks to res and Tammy Riggins!

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: 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

MinXus Mail Bag: Pan-demonium from Mark Bloch (New York City, USA)

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Mail art by Mark Bloch aka Pan (New York City)

(Part I)

Mark Bloch is a veteran mail artist who needs no introduction to those familiar with the Eternal Network. If you are a Tenderfoot who has not yet made his acquaintance, then we are thrilled to have this opportunity to share his work with you (in several installments). First, Mark Bloch’s website is a fantastic resource:

http://www.panmodern.com/Ray.html

http://www.panmodern.com/home.html

http://www.panmodern.com/neoism-intro.html

He generously sent us a hefty envelope packed with articles and artwork spanning different stages of his career. Here is a FAB piece he sent from the time of his involvement in the global art strike of the early 90s, which was closely connected to the network:

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Mark Bloch has an incredible knowledge of mail art history. We believe he is a vitally important figure – even if controversial and sometimes vexing – on the current scene. After all, he helped shape that history and witnessed it firsthand. Additionally, he is an excellent writer. We were thrilled he sent us this piece on mail art history:

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We think this is a must-read piece for mail artists, especially those involved in IUOMA-Ning discussions attempting to define mail art and Ray Johnson’s connection to it. As some of our readers have no doubt observed at other venues, Mark Bloch’s views on the current situation of Fluxus in the mail art network (as well as newer generation artists who call themselves Fluxus) can and do generate heated debate. We will not attempt an analysis of this complex situation, but we will share an erasure piece Mark Bloch sent. The Fluxus naming controversy provides, we believe, important context for the piece:

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(Click to enlarge)

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In our view, a fantastic (and incredibly humorous) erasure. Another piece from the package:

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And the reverse:

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Our deepest thanks to Mark Bloch for sending all this great material! Watch for more installments in the days ahead…

MinXus Mail Bag: Lucky Pierre Swims with the Sharks (Charleston, South Carolina, USA)

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

We open with this compelling self portrait Lucky Pierre sent us even though it is secondary to the concept that unites the components of this extraordinary piece of mail art. The image seems destined to become iconic. The art, however, is about sharks and seas, emanating outward from a single object (or talisman):

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Yes, that is an authentic shark tooth, an unlikely choice to inspire a piece of conceptual art (although Damien Hirst worked in this area on a different scale). The tooth is mounted on one of two pieces of thick cardboard that seem – along with the other contents of the envelope – to want to be part of a boekie. But the pieces remain loose and thus are like ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). Here is the reverse side:

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Here is the second card:

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The slips of paper, when removed from the pocket, correspond to the theme.

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The opposite side is blank. Like an earlier piece Lucky Pierre sent us, a paper clasp is included to hold the material together:

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A narrative is provided by Lucky Pierre:

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A great drawing on the other side:

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This is very much “classic” and complex mail art. Some of the deeply thoughtful pieces made by CrackerJack Kid (Chuck Welch) involving the relationship of multiple objects come to mind as a comparison. This locates Lucky Pierre’s work in the conceptual art-based, Ray Johnson lineage. Yet this work is not simply a retro throwback to 70s and 80s styles. It reflects contemporary mail art as well with its links to folk art and representation. While Trashpo draws from anti-art and often invokes disruption with assemblages of incongruous objects, Lucky Pierre’s work seeks to construct a narrative, although complete coherence and closure are not achieved. The work is, then, more surrealist than DaDa. Most traditional mail art, ultimately, is rooted in DaDa. Lucky Pierre, we believe, has managed to create something appealing and interesting while embracing some conventions and discarding others. The piece is not an attempt to make mail art as it “should be” but a genuine human expression unafraid to approach the intangible.

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And the other side:

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  • Many thanks to Lucky Pierre!

 

MinXus Mail Bag: Subscription Opus by Jude Weirmeir (San Diego, California, USA)

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Mail art by Jude Weirmeir (San Diego, California, USA)

We have received some absolutely marvelous pieces by Jude Weirmeir, including the FAB issue #49 of his Subscription Opus zine. Understandably, this amazing issue has attracted attention and garnered praise elesewhere. So we will share the covers and not attempt a full scale, digital reproduction of the contents. The issue is a three-dimensional, accordion maze that also serves as a musical score.

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To learn more, we direct you to the Jude Weirmeir Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/jude.weirmeir

And another link:

http://www.villamusica.org/faculty-weirmeir/

More mail from Jude Weirmeir!

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The other side:

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We have also received, so far, six postcards that are part of another Subscription Opus, this time a puzzle-score. Jude Weirmeir is doing some remarkably innovative work combining music composition and the conceptual wing of mail art.

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On the reverse sides:

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Two more:

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Many thanks to Jude Weirmeir for this very innovative work!

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