Friday, December 31, 2004

Half an Alphabet of Cards:
"On This Site" (qbdp # 41)

I ended the year by putting together one last mailart mailing--one I've been working on (slowly) for months. For most of that time, the object consisted of nothing but a small metal plate into which I stamped a small text over and over again. I'd planned to create twenty-seven of these, but I ran out of steam and ended up with thirteen (half an alphabet's worth).

The object consists of a stamped metal plate held by two of its corners in slots cut into a piece of brown card. The card is folded into three uneven panels. When closed, the front of the card shows a stamped letter (matching the letter stamped on the metal plate) and four triangular halves from four different Queen Elizabeth II stamps (these latter glued down). The back of the card includes a colophon handwritten with fountain pen. When fully open, the first panel consists of the handwritten letter designation for this card, the second panel holds the metal plate, and the last panel includes a note to the recipient.

The card is inserted into a small cream envelope of laid paper. The letter designation for the card is stamped in purple on the front of the envelope, and a larger version of the letter is hand-colored in green pencil in a stencil shape. The premlip of this envelope includes a handwritten half-signature ("g.huth").

This entire envelope is inserted into a slightly larger brown-grey envelope with my return address stamped on the premlip and the letter designation stamped below it in green.

Geof Huth, One and a Third Copies of "On This Site" (31 Dec 2004)

The recipients of this mailing are as follows:

A/M Ruth and Marvin Sackner

B/M Bob Grumman

C/M Roy Arenella

D/M Reed Altemus

E/M Ficus strangulensis

F/M Ruud Janssen

G/M Luc Fierens

H/M Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

I/M Qpidoremix

J/M Mick Boyle

K/M jcsyntheticsuk

L/M Scott McDonald

M/M qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Panoply of Possibility

Reed Altemus has sent me a number of great publications and mailings over the past few months. One was a complete set of a series of postcards of verbo-visual collaborations. (Expect a review of those at dbqp sometime in January.) Another was this mailing, which includes a copy of the copy art zine, Farrago # 2 (which I'll also have to review at dbqp soon).

Also in the package was this wonderful three color print. I'm not sure what printing process Reed used, but it's a beautiful job of layering color and image.

Reed Altemus, [three-color print] (2004?)

un violon d'ingres

Drawing a Thought out of Writing

About two weeks before Christmas, Roy Arenella sent me a beautiful catalog ("Ian Hamilton Finlay: Prints") in a mailing, and I was simultaneously exalted and disheartened. Finlay is one of my favorite visual writers, the catalog is beautiful, and it includes an wonderful little essay on Finlay's work. But I was sad to realize all the chances I'd missed to see this show in New York City. I was in New York for work during four of the days this show was open, and on the last day of the show I was in Poughkeepsie (an easy train ride away) and was trying to decide whether to travel to New York for the publication party for Lit 9 (which included a number of my visual poems. But I decided I hadn't enough justification to make the trip.

Inside the letter, Roy shows me something of his process for creating a remarkable little semiotic poem. He begins by sketching out his "assignment":

Roy Arenella, Draft of "From Point thru Word to Line"
(7 Nov 2004)

Then he revises the poem into its final form:

Roy Arenella, Final Version of
"From Point thru Word to Line" (7 Nov 2004)

Quite remarkable. The letters in this poem are almost totally transformed into shapes that appear to transfer meaning to us without words. But could we read it aloud?

un violon d'ingres

Monday, December 27, 2004

Weirdness Unlimited

My good friend Ficus strangulensis frequently notes the weirdness of my cards and mailings to him, so I return the favor. I find something quite weird about the combination of text strips on this card:



remaindered book

Ficus strangulensis, "remaindered book" (10 Dec 2004)

un violon d'ingres

"EYE" (qbdp # 40)

On December 9th, I actually took two sets of Paul Graubard postcards and fidgetglyphed upon their back sides. One set I created in O'Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. The other, "EYE," I created once I made it to my hotel room in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Neither of these cards was a particularly good showing from me, but I was working very quickly and almost totally sapped of energy. This visual poem here is a simple "eye" poem, one of dozens I've made. It forms part of a probably-never-to-be-completed book of poems entitled "poeyems."

"EYE" (qbqp # 40)

The lucky recipients of this mailing are as follows:

1/7 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/7 Bob Grumman

3/7 Roy Arenella

4/7 Scott McDonald

5/7 Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

6/7 Qpidoremix

7/7 qbdp

un violon d'ingres

nuung being (qbdp # 39)

Ah, yes, I am behind. On December 9th, while I was in Chicago O'Hare, I decided to put together a quick, simple, and fairly boring set of fidgetglyph cards, each card fixed to the back of a postcard of a Paul Graubard painting. I was quick with the cards, but my time was short, so I had to mail them the next day from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Geof Huth, "nuung being" (qbdp # 39)
(9 Dec 2004)

The lucky recipients of this mailing are as follows:

1/7 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/7 Bob Grumman

3/7 Roy Arenella

4/7 Ruud Janssen

5/7 Reed Altemus

6/7 Ficus strangulensis

7/7 qbdp

un violon d'ingres

Twenty-Five Years and Counting

Ruud Janssen is celebrating 25 active years in mailart with a series of cards and envelopes with 25 painted on them. This envelope is # 04-396 (so the 396th mailing of the year 2004). Inside, Ruud includes a couple of notes, some mailart announcements, and a wonderful painting/poem/card by Ruud about sometimes being analog in a digital work that was put out by the Fluxus Heidelberg Center in 1996.

Ruud Janssen, Painted Envelope # 04-396 (8 Dec 2004)

un violon d'ingres

The View from Fikeland

Ah, Fike is back being indefatigable. He sent me another packet of artist's trading cards. It's always great to see how Fike interprets my stuff ("thx 4D (mysterious)screenshot card") and how he transcribes my letters into his mailart "database" (thx4Dcraziness, sending in return, this fairly placid card [pagemaker 6.5 screenshot of 'OHIO day see'], too young for stress test, had one, passed, sometimes wonder, take care."

Ficus strangulensis, Envelope with "Fig. 2 Front wheel camber"
(4 Dec 2004)

un violon d'ingres

In Green E's

Scott MacDonald reports creating this poem in his "mom's stamp room," possibly a room any mailartist would desire. The multitudinous E's suggest "ease" to me, along with the dancing Chinese dragon in top hat and the dragonfly stamped out of the center of this curving-edged card.

Scott MacDonald, "EEEEEE" (3 Dec 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Collaging the World

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen is essentially a collagist, which is apparent by glancing at his mailXart weblog and even his nonlinear poetry weblog.

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Double-sided Collage Card
(3 Dec 2004)

The above is the back of the card, which provides us with a randomized set of text. The meaning of the text is still here, but only in spots. Coherence is broken apart, as is the goal in most of Jukka-Pekka's work.

You can see the front of this card at Jukka-Pekka's blog, and there you will see it includes a copy of my pwoermd, "enought."

un violon d'ingres

Finding the Hidden Poem

Ruud Janssen sent me a card upon which he has painted a poem hidden within it surface! You can see the front of the card at Ruud's blog, so maybe I'll post the reverse, which includes a nice little rubberstamped monogram (RJ).

Ruud Janssen, Reverse of "BLOG EAT BE" (29 Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

A Whale of a Card

Sometime around November 2nd, Qpidoremix (the master of intricate mailart design) mailed me a wonderful card that laminated the reflective layer of a CD and the image of a whale between two sheets of plastic. I received the card on December 6th, probably because the postal service (of both our countries) had trouble comprehending this art.

Qpidoremix, Laminated Card, Obverse (Nov 2004)

Notice the chatoyance that glances off the top of the CD layer of the card. Somehow, I cannot help but think of Moby Dick when I see the whale--and Herman Melville used to live around here (in Lansingburgh, New York), so I almost believe that this reference was qp's intent with this card.

Qpidoremix, Laminated Card, Reverse (Nov 2004)

On December 7th, Qpidoremix sent me an email asking me if I had received the card, and I explained that I just had, and thanked him for it. He then explained that "Initially Herma [his girlfriend] didnt want me to send the card either as she wanted to keep it for herself. I was only allowed by Herma to send it after I promised to make such a card for her too. I made one for her with a seal on one side which she has seen, but I hadn't had the chance to make it two sided for her."

Herma died recently, and the doctors do not even know why. My heart goes out to Martijn (who is usually Qpidoremix to me). As we sometimes discover, mailart is often about being human, about sharing the joys and sorrows of those we trade art with.

Martijn, take care. And tell me if this information is too personal to leave up on the blog.

un violon d'ingres

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Click the image above to view a beautiful e-booklet that Mick Boyle sent me on December 1st (another example in the growing field of e-mailart). In the booklet, Mick arranges five series of three photographs to examine how human beings create order out of disorder, narrative out of chaos. And thank Mick for gracing the planet with such a quiet and shimmering piece of art.

un violon d'ingres

Monday, December 06, 2004

From Top to Bottom, Roy is There

Arriving in my mailbox along with a dramatic envelope from Ruud Janssen was a quiet photocard by Roy Arenella. The image on the front of the card is of a small house sinking into the grey earth (which Roy has amended with some white ink scratched into the emulsion).

On the back of the card, Roy explains himself: that he covets my third floor (where I have my office, work area, library, archives, museum--and a spare bedroom and bathroom. Well, maybe. But I'm still a bit crowded in that space, and I sure don't keep it neat enough much of the time!

This mailing of Roy's is numbered 475 p/c, and includes some enigmatic figure walking in the pseudo-cancellation mark. This figure appears to be an X, surrounded by a rectangle, which is topped with a head and supported by two little legs walking towards the top of the postcard.

Roy Arenella, "Between A & C" (12 Jan 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Painted Envelope

When this painted envelope arrived in my home, it must have made an impression on my son Tim, because he told me over the phone that I'd received some mailart. Until that moment, I had no idea my son even knew what mailart was. I don't spend much time talking to the family about it, since we have enough to talk about (and since they're not necessarily that interested). But Ruud's envelope is covered with dramatic strokes of acrylic paint that suggest a carnivorous garden to my eye.

Ruud Janssen, [Painted Envelope] (23 Nov 2004)

Unknown to my son, I'd seen the envelope already. Ruud is playing with space and time on his weblog, so he decided to post a copy of this envelope on his blog and wait to see if I'd run across it. Since I frequent the IUOMA blog, I ran across the image there before my son found it in our mailbox.

un violon d'ingres

DAY SEE (qbdp # 38)

Well, this is a little strange. A week ago, I begin creating a mailart mailing. These usually go out the day of creation, but I had troubles with this one.

First, I wanted to print (via an inkjet printer) a single visual poem on photo paper. No matter what I tried I couldn't get the poem to print on the paper correctly. Only a tiny bit of the image would print. So I took a screen shot of the poem in its natural environment (PageMaker 6.5), and I was able to print that version onto the paper.

Next, I had to glue fifteen little sheets of paper onto some cream-colored card. I don't relish gluing ever, but I succeeded. Unfortunately, then I had to press the cards flat, so I waited overnight.

The next day, a Monday, I took out the cards and rubberstamped them (with my address and the word "Postcard") and inscribed some colophonic information. By that time, the cards were ready. However, I waited until Tuesday, November 30th, to add the stamps, the addresses, and the notes.

On Wednesday, I mailed them off. On Thursday, I made a scan of my archival version. For two days, I rested. Then, today, I finally wrote this entry.

It takes me a while.

The remarkably lucky recipients of this card, which still curls quite a bit from the glue, are as follows:

1/15 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/15 Bob Grumman

3/15 Roy Arenella

4/15 kiyotei

5/15 Mick Boyle

6/15 Qpidoremix

7/15 Ruud Janssen

8/15 jcsyntheticsuk

9/15 Reed Altemus

10/15 Ficus strangulensis

11/15 j0llyr0ger

12/15 Scott McDonald

13/15 Scott Helmes

14/15 Erin Huth

15/15 qbdp

Geof Huth, "DAY SEE (OHH IIO)" (30 Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Stratigraphic Art of a kiyotei Postcard

kiyotei continues to alter the same John Wayne postcard, but his layering of strata upon that base is so extreme that the Duke barely peeks out from behind the layers.

kiyotei, [John Wayne Postcard # 3 (Obverse)] (24 Nov 2004)

The first layer over the card consists of a clipping of an Italian proverb, a piece of grey paper torn along the edge, and a Mongolian stamp (in Russian [or at least using Cyrillic characters] and English) that reproduces an old German airmail postage stamp. Tying together this stamp with the Wayne stamp image and the grey sheet is a kiyoteian Matangi Island cancellation stamp. And that is the message of this card: how the disparate can become one. Other marks (layers) upon this face: a sticker with the lower half of my address, a red sticker with a jW brand, another Matangi Island cancellation (this one red), and a tiny asemic word (which has become my favorite word).

The reverse is even more obscured by strata, so much so that almost the entire left side of the card has disappeared.

kiyotei, [John Wayne Postcard # 3 (Reverse)] (24 Nov 2004)

The first thing we notice is a big 37-cent John Wayne card (more than the required 23 cents, which kiyotei points out with the note "14¢ my ARSE . . ."). The reason for this "supersize postage" is that this stamp is the same stamp illustrated on the other side of the card. Next, we are privileged to receive a Matangi Island TobaFuFu stamp. And what else? The cover to a Cracker Jacks prize, a fortune-cookie fortune, a Chinese postage sticker from October of this year, a bit of an address in Chinese (I assume), and at the uppermost stratum, a small black and grey "Mail Art T-Shirt" artists' stamp. Start digging!

un violon d'ingres

Airport Photo with Spears towards Christmas

An original artist-made postcard has two sides, and both are messages. So it is with the cards of Mick Boyle, even though (or especially because) most of his messages are visual.

The obverse of his most recent card is an early view of Christmas. Bright red lines divide the face of the card into four rectangles. A simmering red image of a face (his?) sits below his contact information and above an antique Christmas card image of a man carrying a tannenbaum out of the woods. This seasonal image (along with the standard George Washington 23-cent stamp) introduces green (the traditional counterpoint to red in the Christmas color symbology) to this panel.

Mick Boyle, [Airport Photo Card] (Obverse) (22 Nov 2004)

This card is about balance and division, starting with the Mondrian-like division of the panel. The recipient's address is bookended with two spears (images of the splinter from my foot previously appearing in Boyle's "HURT HUTH"). The address itself is hyper-balanced: My name begins with a capital letter and ends with one, the major part of the address is forced into a tight force-justified rectangle, and the zip code (postal code) uses the equivalent of capital numerals at either of its ends.

The other side of the card is totally different: black and white, hazy, and merely a simple photograph of a man in an airport. Mick explains it (on the other side of the card) as "from a series of airport photographs."

Mick Boyle, [Airport Photo Card] (Reverse) (22 Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Two Times Four Forks Forked

Reed Altemus sends me a simple mailing: a brown envelope (stamped "NEW ADDRESS!" although his address hasn't changed, and a stamp about "this" poem being created by chance operations). Inside, there is a small chapbook by John M. Bennett and him, "The Forks Forked," which consists of a raft of crazy poems ("greens against the sp ool the s pool! lengua bifed tongues") that the two poets had created via chance operations.

Reed Altemus, The Forks Forked Mailing (27 Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Naming the Recipient

Here is a reconstituted bit of emailart or e-mailart or e-mail art from Qpidoremix. Taking the cardboard core from a roll of paper towels or some similar product (what in my family we call a dohdoh because of the sound kids make through it), he has learned to recreate the Latin alphabet, at least in part. And one of his first experiments is with my name!

Hi Geof,

Just made a cool discovery. With a single twist cardboard spiral (I cut out a circle, and stretched it along the z axis et voila a small spiral stair going round one time. the R shows it best as spiral, the O is seen along the z axis) I can write most characters, just a matter of finding the right viewpoint (though some characters I think are impossible like the m)

Qpidoremix, "GeoffreY huTh" (22 Nov 2004)

PS I didnt work too hard on that card.. :-)) very meditative ... I made several at once and have send them to different countries. It does appear more complex than it is, though this one uses 2 wheels and usually I only use one:an outerwheel with 4 images printed on it and 4 matches at the inner wheel to have the coin flip it .25 turn (next image on the wheel). the other matches are all to give it some body or to have the coin hit the wheel at the right spot.. Most of my popup cards are a lot thinner. when i use coin driven mechanisms it gets bulky, this one being one of the fattest with a double layer.(two wheels). I have sent match/coin labyrinths in the past that arrived perfectly fine. this was the first to arrive of this batch. I let you know if I get word from china.

He ends (above) with a recollection of an ingenious and complex mailing of his, though he claims not to've worked hard on it!

un violon d'ingres

Evidence from the Log and the Retirement of Cancellation

When I received a lumpy envelope from Roy Arenella the other day, I'd no idea what he was sending me. Nor did I have any idea what a series of revelations it would be.

First, Roy includes a photocopy of what I take to be his mailart logbook (mine, you are reading at the moment). In it, we see the information Roy collected on an anonymous mailing to me on the subject of David Cole. He catalogs the ways in which he has tried to ensure his anonymity along with the reasons he thinks I'll figure out the identity of the sender (his unique "g" [uncapitalized], the X in "conneXions, and the Euro-crossed 7 on the envelope). We also learn that this was mailing # 462X from Arenella, which he could not have marked on the original mailing.

Roy Arenella, "Draft Log Bk" (16 and 20 Nov 2004)

On the other side of this sheet, Roy has included a short letter. For the record, Roy's mailing did serve to fool me for almost a minute after I had opened it. The mailing was just so different from his others. I thought, maybe, that someone had read my online exchanges with Roy about David Cole and had decided to surprise me with a gift. But then I noticed two pieces of information: 1. The sender had given me a copy of the catalog to the exact same David Cole exhibition Roy had mentioned to me, and 2. There was a note telling me not to worry about not responding to a note I'd received from David Cole. The kindness, the catalog, and even the quite disguised handwriting gave it away. Once I read the sticky note, the jig was up.

Also, Roy needn't worry about my wife Nancy being worried by this package. She wasn't. I opened it before she noticed its anonymity. Or size.

So what other secret was revealed in this letter (besides Roy's logbooking and his admission of mailing)? The secret of how he stamps his pseudo-cancellation marks!

Roy Arenella, "Bull's Eye Postmark Stamp (Retired)" (21 Nov 2004)

What a simple, elegant, and inexpensive contrivance is this! And I'm honored to own the drain stopper that gracefully marked so many postcards.

This mailing of Roy's, by the way, is # 470X+ENCLS (the 470th mailing, a xerox copy, with enclosures).

un violon d'ingres

The Message is Clear?

I'm used to people not being happy with me. That's all part of being a father and a supervisor and a regular human being. But I was a bit surprised to see the words "HURT HUTH" on a postcard arriving in my mail this week.

Okay, just for a second. Almost immediately, I realized that this was a wonderful Mick Boyle memoralization of the insplintering of my foot (back in 2002), as reported by me a couple of weeks ago. Mick took the image of the splinter, isolated it, and used it to create an ingenious little message, one with the ancient feeling of Roman monumental inscriptions.

Mick Boyle, "HURT HUTH" (19 Nov 2004)

Instead of being a threat or a command, this message is one of condolence and a simple statement of fact.

I love this little sign, and I need at least two them: one for my office and one for my home. That way, both the people I work with and those whom I love can wonder if I've put the equivalent of an imperative "KICK ME" sign up on my walls. So, Mick, either send me a couple of signs or send me an image that'll work on a letter-sized sheet of paper. (And I promise to find a self-portrait to send you for your "Mail Art Postcard Exhibition"! The only one I can remember at the moment is too strange for now.
un violon d'ingres

Pictures of Fabulous Mr. Universe Uncovered

Mick Boyle has sent me another of his graphic design jewels in the form of a postcard. This one opens with what appears to be a treated found image of a Mr Universe contest. The dark tones of this card, the low contrast, the graininess, and the weird quasi-polarization of the image intrigue me. How does the guy do all this stuff? And seemingly effortlessly.

Mick Boyle, "MUSCLE BUILD" (17 Nov 2004)

The back includes the torso of a drawing of a man (in green), bare-chested, the muscles of his up-ended arms flexed. Oh, and he's hairless, even lacking hirci. Along the edges of this torso, Mick has pencilled one of his signature notes:

Hi Geof I've enjoyed your recent cards
I don't really have much to say

un violon d'ingres

Ficus strangulensis and the Mailart Horn of Plenty

Fike is back in action with another of his mailart grabbags. There must be another term for such mailings, but I don't know what it is. Many mailartists follow its rules: filling an envelope with all kinds of wonder, somehow replicating our text-, image-, and object-filled modern world.

I've decided to give some small sense of the type of material that might arrive snuggled within the folded corners of a Ficus strangulensis mailart envelope, so here you have it:

Ficus strangulensis, [A Mailart Extravaganza] (16 Nov 2004)

We start with the envelope, which serves as the background of this picture. Fike has taken a marksman's target, filled with holes, and placed it above some text (a rough-and-ready method of collage), and entitled it "Balso Snell 04." The title baffles me, and I'm quite familiar with the work of Nathanael West, including his Dream Life of Balso Snell. This was West's first novel, a failed surrealistic novel where our protagonist must move through the body of a large wooden horse, finally emerging as an excretum. It's been decades since I've read the book, but that's my general recollection.

I once proposed a mini-course for Freshman at Syracuse University on Nathanael West that would have examined his two great novels (Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust) and his two failures (Balso Snell itself and A Cool Million, a breezy rewriting of Candide). The idea was that we could examine what it was that made good fiction good. The English department, unfortunately, saw no point in teaching "bad" books, so I had to settle for a mini-course on the modern novella, which was fine.

The rest of the disemboweled innards of this envelope include Fike's usual table of recent mailart activity (with comments and a note on his new exercise program), a few mailart cards, a treated corner of a mailart card he'd received, a slip of orange paper with a firearms warning, and a card catalog card for Milton Ridvas Konvitz' Constitution and Civil Rights. Since this last has come from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (which now prefers to go by its initials, RPI), in nearby Troy, New York, Fike notes,

Got this from MALOK [Waukau-Wisconsin-based mailartist] (& He . . . maybe from Alan Catlin [Schenectady-based poet, who lives a couple of blocks from me, but whom I've never met]?) or Geof Huth?

Well, not from me.

un violon d'ingres

Returned Mail from Qpidoremix

I read postcards starting with the back (the message). One might assume that the reason for this is that I am deeply interested in the message itself over the illustration on the front side (and one would be right), but the real reason is this: The postman—and ours is a man, friendly guy, long hair, moved up from Brooklyn, introduced himself to us when he moved to our route—always arranges the mail so that the address side faces outwards at us and him. So, just by pawing through the mail, I end up seeing the message first.

Imagine my surprise at finding my card being returned to me—not that it was easy to tell, but a the copy of my ill-yclept and autobiographical fidgetglyph, "(eyg)(eau)(auo)(Eft)," came bubbling up to the surface. With this one back to me, I now own one third of the total output of this mailing!

Qpidoremix, [Reworked Huthian Card], Reverse (Nov 2004)

Qpidoremix has decided to create a completely (well, nearly so) different card atop my card. Here we see the archeological concept of stratigraphy in action. His dramatic 39-Euro-cent Nederland stamps all but obliterate my stamp. He has covered my address to him with white and added my address. He has pasted on a few clippings of paper, highlighting huge sections, whiting out one section, and writing upon that exposed sandbar; he has added comments (including the universal "thnx") and notes, and a sticker. He's even added a footnote—"Frankfuter as WORST (würst)"—to his detourned note: "88. ich bin ein Berlinner." But I thought a Berliner was a jelly doughnut, what the Poles call a Pączki, which we have every Easter in commemoration of culinary fat.

Then there is the front of the card,

Qpidoremix, [Reworked Huthian Card], Obverse (Nov 2004)

which was a free postcard I'd picked up at a restaurant in New York City. Qpidoremix has rewritten the entire card and added appropriate illustrations, including quite a few hats. Does good old qp know what my surname means?

un violon d'ingres

kiyotei's coyote, Coyotyl

kiyotei sends me another mailart card built upon the façade and backend of another John Wayne postage stamp postcard. He has added a big red star to the Duke's cap, a sticker image of a huge thresher harvesting golden grain, and notations along the edges of the stamp, each scallop-shaped perforation filled with a single letter or blank space. Starting with the north side and moving clockwise, we receive these messages:

ABU AMMARION [Okay, lots of punning in here. Keep in mind that Wayne's real first name is the manly "Marion."]

nicotiana tabacum [Easy enough.]

Morrison [Wayne's real surname; his parents were alliterators.]

CHISHOLM TRAILMIX [Possible new tradename.]

The reverse of the card appears below. kiyotei has returned a copy of the "Seneca Carving" postage stamp I sent to him with my last mailing...but he's modified it again, given it a title, and turned it into a small comics panel! The rest of the card is decorated lushly. (I'm always amazed by how kiyotei turns a simple card into something of a mailart grabbag on two surfaces.)

We have the address label to me (which he has turned into a cute firetruck responding to an emergency, which commemorates the Fire Department of New York [FDNY]), a Matangi Island Coffee Cat stamp, and a few glyphs made to resemble cattle brands. The green one clearly spells out "John," the red one appears to be "Wayne," but any particular meaning (beyond shape) of the other two escapes me.

kiyotei, "Coyote-Eating Man" (16 Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Two Envelopes Become One

Ruud Janssen surprised me with two beautiful painted envelopes, which I can put together into a single painting I hadn't noticed at first. Inside each envelope are tons of other mailart pieces: artworks, projects to pass along, mailart documentation. Let's hope I'm up to the challenge of reciprocating.

Ruud Janssen, [Two Envelopes] (12 Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Connexions from David Cole thru Roy Arenella

I received the other day a thick envelope, sturdy as a board, about half the size of a legal envelope, emblazoned with my address on a large label, decorated with six stamps roughly cancelled with a thick muddy handstamp, and bearing no identifying cancellation mark or return address. This last point is crucial.

My wife hates it when I receive suspicious mail. (Once she worried we had received a letter bomb, but it was actually a small box of letters printed on plastic film and sent to me by my friend Tim Canny.) I took my trusty letter-opener in hand and sliced this envelope open, and what did I find?

A copy of David Cole's year 2000 retrospective, with a small note on a sticky note that someone has scrawled in pencil and placed beneath the photo of David Cole.

This unsigned handiwork included enough information for me to recognize the creator: Roy Arenella was continuing our "conversation" about David Cole, specifically about my failing to respond to the one note Cole had sent me. A nice gesture, and I enjoy how Roy channels David Cole for the purposes of this piece of art, which encouraged me to write a little memorial to Cole.

Roy Arenella Collaborating
with David Cole after the Fact (Nov 2004)

un violon d'ingres

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Peace, Out

Today, I received a plain brown envelope from Reed Altemus of Tonerworks. Reed is incredibly interested in xerography as a form of production for art, so Tonerworks is an appropriate name for his factory. But it's strange that this is the first time I've noticed him using the title, and today his letter to me notes that he's been experimenting with many different methods of printing. I've always been interested in different ways of printing myself, so it's great to see a fairly pure copy artist coming my way!

Inside Reed's envelope, he includes a simple concrete poem in memory of his friend, Guillermo Deisler, the Argentine artist. Whenever I see Guillermo's name, I can't help but think that it's such an Argentine name--just as Geof Huth and Roy Arenella, etc., are such American ones.

Since Reed's was among the mailart I received today, I'm sending my collection of his mailart off to school with my wife tomorrow.

Reed Altemus, "In Memoriam: Guillermo Deisler" (2004)

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The Red Eye of Sunset

Scott McDonald has taken the mailart of a few people (including me) and the five million copies project poem of John M. Bennett, reversed the polarity of the images, and stitched them into the colorful piece below, which he has glued to a card and inserted into a plastic sleeve before stamping it and mailing it to me.

The card arrived in its slip just a bit wrinkled, so all is well. In the note Scott includes, he mentions he's just had an interview with Google, so good luck to him!

Since Scott's was among the mailart I received today, I'm sending my collection of his mailart off to school with my wife tomorrow.

Scott McDonald, "rojo ojo" (15 Nov 2004)

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The Pieman Cometh

There arrived today from Roy Arenella a small card thanking me for a tiny bouquet of compliments I sent him affixed to my last mailing. He decorates the card with a pie-headed and pi-shaped man-glyph, which resembles somewhat the glyphs on my qbdp # 37. And he signs the card, with a small rubberstamp "seal" that surrounds an R.

This card is number 455(B)C, and subscripted to the B is the designation "(PM)." I wonder if 455(A) is coming to me, or (if not that) why there is an A and a B for this number. Roy's numbering system is always interesting.

Since Roy's was among the mailart I received today, I'm sending part of my collection of his mailart off to school with my wife tomorrow.

Roy Arenella, "Thanks for all" (12 Nov 2004)

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Fulcrum-Triangle-Heart-Diamond Thought

I hesitate to say anything about this card--it is such a perfect intellectual whole by itself that any commentary by me could ruin it. So find both sides of his postcard below.

It is hard, however, to avoid a few simple comments. Roy is still mulling over my micro-essay, "Collards and Poetry." This is card # 455 p/c (a photocard, and the 455th mailing of the year). In his notes on the reverse of the card, Roy asks, "Does this genre [visual poetry] give the mind lever-/age over the heart?" Maybe it does, but look at how Roy leverages the word "leverage" by tmetically severing it into "lever" (the center of the pun on the obverse of the card) and "age" (time, oldness, era). Then he places a red heart within a triangle within his pseudo-cancellation mark. Notice how the heart (within triangle) replicates the heart (found within a diamond shape) on the postage stamp he has chosen.

Always, as Roy Arenella always says, connect.

Roy Arenella, "cLever" (15 Mar 2004)

Roy Arenella, Note on the reverse of "cLever" (12 Nov 2004)

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3S &c.

The Illinois-based j0llyr0ger sends me an envelope created out of the index to a road atlas; decorated with the same cirrostratus fibratus stamp Roy Arenella used; and addressed to dbqp, qbdp, and Geof Hut (corrected to Geof Huth) in NY, NY--but the zipcode was perfect + 4. The most amazing thing about the address is that it's created from a spray-painted, hand-cut stencil, which gives the letters a varying haziness depending on how surely the stencil sits against the sheet at a particular spot.

j0llyr0ger writes a me a couple page letter, written to the "estimable Huth"--now, is he being funny? or did he misplace the in-?--and in his effective signature style: pseudo-quasi-eighteenth-century-pirate-brogue. A verbal delight. Within the letter, j0llyr0ger announces that μ 2.0 is in the works and that he's working on a new micro-periodical entitled MockingbirdWheel.

But, wonder of wonders is a little trifold publication entitled "3S," which is entirely created through stencilling and spray-painting. Three sh--er words appear on each panel of the resulting triptych, each wonderfully different visually from the rest.

j0llyr0ger, "3S" (Nov 2004)

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Why Printed Matters

What surprises, I wonder, are not hidden within the archives of Roy Arenella's home and mind?

Today, I received from him a large photocard (# 454 p/c) mailed on Veterans Day (11 Nov 2004). In the note, Roy begins by mentioning that he "hadn't realized that David Cole [the visual poet] was on Sackner's collectible list" (which is a sideways reference to a recent blog posting of mine over at dbqp). He goes on to say that he visited a quasi-retrospective of Cole's at the Montclair State University gallery a month after the man's death.

All of this reminded me that I had received only one piece of mail from Cole in my life. Cole had initiated the correspondence, and he sent a gracious introductory letter and wonderful envelope decorated in his signature stenciled style. Yet I never responded. I'm sure this arrived during the Great Darkness, those many years when I retreated from art in favor of my paying job. A great loss, the loss of a connection, but there are many others I've experienced, too many to go into here and too sad to consider.

Roy goes on to say that this card of his is a thank-you for my essay "Collards and Poetry," and for my appreciation of the rarer Royvelope.

I read this card, appreciating the fact that the pseudo-cancellation mark was filled with a stamping of a wooden device, somewhat like a wheatstalk in form, that Roy had found "in a spring flower-bed outside the gallery, at David's Montclair show." The card is finished with a 37-cent showing a cirrostratus fibratus cloud formation, a wonderful halo-like form I remember seeing only once—at Mapps College in Barbados—and an artist's stamp (I assume) of W.C. Fields. I'm not sure why W.C. is there, save that his stamp is a similar blue of the cloud stamp, but since this is a card from Roy I know there's some reason for it.

Then I turned over the card, and I was blown away. An unexpected gift: a journalistic shot of three little-known artists in the process of moving, all a smidgen out of focus—a shot taken on the run. From the left we see the famed mailartist (and rubberstamp-printing-set collector) Picasso Gaglione, the visual poet Marilyn Rosenberg, and David Cole himself! I'd never seen a picture of any of these people before, and their corporeal shapes surprised me. I never expect artists to be old. If their work seems young, my mind-picture of them is of young vibrant people. Instead, we have three maybe-sixtyish people, wrapped up to shelter themselves from the cold, but full of life. Picasso and David shake hands vigorously, and their manual embrace reaches across the face of the entire picture, holding everything together.


Roy Arenella, "Bay Area Dada" (15 Jan 1999)

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A Fauxvelope from the Back Hamlet

Today, I received my first piece of mail from Jcsyntheticsuk of Ipswich, Suffolk, and he deftly reminds me that mailartists have their own style, that the joy of mailart is the surprise at being introduced to a new way of doing things.

The envelope of this mailing is a sheet folded into thirds, taped shut, and decorated with lines to resemble an envelope. He sketches out, for instance, the flat V of premlip on the back, above the two rising lines of the underlip. Supporting the understory of this fauxvelope are two other sheets of paper, each showing some weirdly abstract-realistic rendition of architectural space.

Within the folds of this all, we find a few pieces of diagonally folded paper with simple rubberstampings (. . . _ _ _ . . . [SOS], an arrow identified as "GOOD," and a square asterisk), a mailart call, and some cards announcing Jsuk's recentish move.

Jcsyntheticsuk, "JCS@92" (2004)

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Today's Card from Fike

While plowing through the day's mail (which I believe included five credit card offers), I saw a small postcard on the table, message side up. Inexplicably, I recognized the handwriting but could not identify the author. I made a guess I knew was wrong, then picked up the card and discovered it was from Ficus strangulensis. It has occurred to me that I may not have recognized it as Fike's merely because I haven't in a while received a Fikean postcard sent out on its own into the world.

Fike talks a bit about his health and points out that I've been using the wrong zipcode (AKA postal code) for him on the opposite side of a view of "ANT PAN recently," the blue-green cousin of what I called "Billion" below.

Ficus strangulensis, "ANT PAN recently" (5 Nov 2004)

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Important News from the Institute for Further Details at the Design

On November ninth, j0llyr0ger sent me an original collage on a postcard. I'm always amazed when people send me their only copy of something, and I'm even more surprised when (time after time) the glued-on pieces of collages come through the postal system unscathed.

This collage is a great example of the now-little-seen ransom-note style of collage. The opening I find quite exciting, and the item of response time continues through the collage in its nonlinear way. j0llyr0ger's message tells me that this is hardcore guerrilla mailart and ends with the biblical (or Jackson MacLovian)


j0llyr0ger, "The Institute for further details at the Design"
(9 Nov 2004)

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Send Not to Sender

Roy Arenella somehow surprises me again. This time with a postcard on thick card that is nothing more than the crossed-out return address from a package he had recently received from France. This simple and common image of a return address throws Roy into another discussion on correspondence, which is one of the prominent features of his mailart. With Roy, the message he writes on the card is as much the art as the images that accompany it.

Upon seeing this return address, Roy writes,

Recieving a package from France, I am reminded of the European postal practice of crossing out the name of the sender of such mail. Each time I see this I read the same moral lesson it it—one that's cautionary, even exemplary—especially for the mail art world. Certainly French postal policy isnt concerned with ego psychology, modesty or personal pushiness. The rule that asks the sender to cross out & thsu subordinate his or her name in favor of the reciepient's is a practical one aimed at a quiker more efficient reading of the mails destination. I find in that policy a chastening effect, a needed reminder that we mail for a reason beyon only a proclaiming of ourselves. We mail to read another communicant—: the recipient.

I needn't add anything else on the subject. However, this card, mailed on 6 Nov 2004, is numbered 453C. It is a rare C (card), instead of p/c (photo/card). The stamp chosen for the card is of cirrus radiatus, a particularly visually pleasing cloud formation, which Roy sends to us on its side. Most importantly, the pseudo-cancellation mark includes a rubberstamping of a lower-case i, with its tittle slightly off to the right. This single letter deftly reiterates the card's message and illustration.

Roy Arenella, "Mail from France" (6 Nov 2004)

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John Wayne Nameograph, Jr.

On November sixth, kiyotei sent me a "John Wayne, American, 1907-1979," postcard. The image on the card is of John Wayne in western garb on a US 37-cent stamp released (apparently, though it's news to me) in 2004. On the back of the card is a wonderful nameograph that looks as if it might have been Gocco-printed. This little wrawing led me to write a micro-essay about nameographs elsewhere, so no need to go into any more details here!

kiyotei, "John Wayne" (6 Nov 2004)

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Fike is Back

On the fourth of November, Ficus strangulensis mailed me another envelope announcing that he is back, which is great to hear. His note, unexpectedly, centers around guns: about reuniting with his shooting buddy after a month away, that one of my fidgetglyphs looks like a "hand-blunderbus[s] discharging," and the news of a shooting death of someone he knew.

But the rest of the envelope is everything we'd expect from Fike (not that talk of shooting ain't!): the normal craziness on the envelope (including Fike's own phizzog on the address label), two painted cards, one color card rewriting a John M. Bennett poem, and a beautiful hyper-reworked collage, which we see below.

Ficus strangulensis, "Billion" (2004)

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Reading Reed

Large mailings from Reed Altemus arrive wrapped in brown paper.

This one came with a letter from Reed. In it, he talks about going to New York and meeting Mark Bloch (the Panman), whom I haven't had any contact with in years.

The rest of the package consists of a sheet of 42 numbered Postflux Fluxpost artist's stamps (identical save for the identifying numbers upon them) and a sheaf of stapled pages entitled "Eight Event Scores." These are wonderful scripts for happenings and range from the humorous

Fruit Event

In your car on the way to work, hold a banana up to your ear and talk into it

Conduct crucial business using the banana

Make important business decisions usng the banana

Call your girlfirend or boyfriend and make arrangements for a weekend getaway in the Poconos Mountains using the banana

Check the messages on your answering machine using the banana

Call the office and tell them you're going to be a little late today using the banana


to the Zen

Opus 6

Make no plan

to the impossible


Nose to navel – 1 minute

Elbow to chin – 1 minute

Knee to small of back – 1 minute

Big toe to opposite shoulder – 1 minute

Ah, if only!

Reed Altemus, Cover of "Eight Event Scores" (2004?)

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

the all-seeing eye becomes (qbdp # 37)

Hampton Inn, Room 115, Williamsville, New York

Another night in a hotel room, away from home, and I still have to prepare to give a presentation on document imaging tomorrow. But first I had to create a new mailing. It's been a little while since my last overnight (a couple weeks?), so I have many people to repay with a mailing. Also, I wanted some heft to the visual poem this time, so using my thick art markers I created a four-color asemic fidgetglyph that I call "the all-seeing eye becomes."

Geof Huth, "the all-seeing eye becomes" (9 Nov 2004)

I've inscribed each glyph upon a large, thick, blank postcard (Canson Montval, 140 lb/300 gsm), and sometime later tonight I'll write each correspondent a note. Each card sent to a correspondent in the US is completed with a stamp form the "Art of the American Indian series." These stamps are huge and colorful and sit on the back of the card along with blue, green, black, red, and reddish-brown inks.

Geof Huth, Reverse of "the all-seeing eye becomes" (9 Nov 2004)

The lucky recipients of this mailing are as follows:

1/12 Ruth and Marvin Sackner

2/12 Bob Grumman

3/12 Roy Arenella

4/12 kiyotei

5/12 Mick Boyle

6/12 Qpidoremix

7/12 Reed Altemus

8/12 Scott McDonald

9/12 Ficus strangulensis

10/12 Scott Helmes

11/12 Erin Huth

12/12 qbdp

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