Mail art by the Blessed Father (San Diego, California, USA)
We have received two fantastic mail art communications from the Blessed Father and his Church of the Right Now, which we have been slow to document due to a general piling up of material at the bottom of the mail bag and the slow summer months. So we extend our apologies to the Blessed Father and other Tenderfoots who, no doubt, daily await the appearance of their work upon our humble blog.
This first piece by the Blessed Father is a conventional-size postcard with some very unconventional material. Sometimes we wonder if our correspondence with this So Cal Holy Roller will result in a shared cell in the Big House. (Suggesting last year that we were “weed” farmers on a very loud envelope had us a bit skittish.)
We can always plead, protest and generally fall back upon the argument that what the Blessed Father is doing is “art.” We believe it is and have – in our West Coast Mail Artist Survey – identified him as an important contemporary figure. One of the Blessed Father’s special talents (in addition to finding excellent models) is stamp making. The reverse side of the card showcases his skill:
Given the elements of the mail art genre, the persona of the Blessed Father is nearly as important as the art. The Blessed Father is an engaging – and enduring – character. His antics and the Church of Right Now provide numerous narratives that at their core satirize Evangelical Christianity and reveal the all too abundant hypocrisy attached to it. The Blessed Father’s “schtick” indeed seems timeless and (no pun intended) bottomless in terms of rich material. The Blessed Father joins the Church of the Subgenius and more recently DKult along with dozens of other lesser known ranters and temples that form the curious world of mail art religions and philosophies.
Confusion exists concerning the relationship of the Church of the Subgenius and Neoism since they both blossomed in the mail art network at roughly the same time. They were two separate entities on one level, no question. Yet they were also intertwined on a more practical level. For instance, Neoist tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE was named a saint in the Church and a number of his historic performances took place at Church-sponsored events. Thus, the “multiple user identity” concept as well as less noble and artistic scams to raise money involving fake religious groups and scholarship funds seamlessly passed from Neoism to the Church of the Subgenius. This strengthened the already strong tendency in mail art to invent imaginary people, places and organizations. The Blessed Father is a contemporary manifestation right down to his use of a costume.
In a second package, the Blessed Father kindly sent us a T-shirt and we have scanned the primary image on the front:
The shirt is very high quality. The image, based on the date and subject matter, suggests some earlier iteration of the Blessed Father persona and narrative. R. Crumb comes to mind. The evolution of the Blessed Father from earlier, underground mail art (now very much a vestige of the past) is apparent in this amazing piece. The envelope is a stamp masterpiece:
Note the nod to “Bob” Dobbs of the Church of the Subgenius. Here is a detail scan of a few of the stamps:
Deepest thanks, as ever, to the Blessed Father.