Mail Art Calls

Posted: January 29, 2017 in mailart, Mailart Call

 

Go to this source at Lynn Radford’s blog for detailed information about Sinclair Scripta’s 2017 FemailXX project, and pARTicipate PLEASE, ThnX!:

Monday Morning Mail Art Call: FeMail-XX Project

Also, during the month of FEBRUARY, when the nation celebrates Presidents Day, you can call on the current electoral college president to RESIGN by mailing one postcard everyday the post office is open. On one side write RESIGN and address the other side to The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20500 – Attn: current electoral college president

Mine are all ready to go!

resign-feb-2016-to-white-house

These “tricks” are from a worksheet written by John M. Bennett, handed out during national poetry month (April 2016), for the occasion of a workshop we were invited to give to members of the Ohio Poetry Association:

SOME OF JOHN M. BENNETT”S POETRY TRICKS
Rewrite a poem backwards
This can be done in several ways. Rearrange the poems with the words in
backward order or rearrange the lines in reverse order, for example. Or, for a
special treat, spell each word backward, drawkcab, while leaving the words
themselves in the same order, or rearrange them in reverse order, etc.
Start a poem in the middle
This can be done by rearranging an existing poem by rewriting it starting
from a point in the middle. When you reach the middle of the rewritten
poem, add the title (perhaps in bold), and continue with the “first” part of the
poem. With a little practice, you can write a poem from scratch in this way.
Constantly repeat a word or a phrase
This can create some great rhythmic effects. Don’t worry too much about
proper syntax. You can emphasize the repeated elements with italics, upper
case, etc.
Mix tenses
This can multiply the apparent number of voices and perspectives in a
poem, and have other effects. In general, you can mix syntactical and
grammatical structures to create multiple layers of meaning and resonance.
Misspell words
Use popular misspellings to create multiple voices or perspectives. You can
also create your own misspellings for expressive or performative effects.
Cut-ups and tear-ups
The numbers of ways to do this are only limited by your imagination. By
disassembling and reassembling existing texts you will discover new meanings
and resonances you might not have thought of. With some practice, you will
come to be able to write in this manner skipping the step of cutting or tearing
up. You will have found a whole new dimension of language in which to
express yourself. It is especially thrilling to cut up your own texts in these ways.
Mix languages
If you have any level of knowledge of a foreign language or languages, use
them freely in what you write. If you know no other language than your own,
learn a new one. It is amazing what this does for your ability to express
yourself in general, and to understand how language can work.
Transduction
This is a kind of fake translating, in which you “translate” a text from one
language to another without regard to what a bilingual dictionary might suggest.
It is not necessary to know the language you are transducing from. One way to
do this is called “homophonic translation” in which you use words in your
language that merely “sound like” the words in the original. You can also
transduce by opening your mind to the resonant associations a word in a
source language suggest to you. It is also fun to transduce within a language: ie,
transduce an English text into a new English text.
Create a new form
All poetry has some kind of form, even so-called “free verse”. The
possibilities of creating new forms are infinite. Try writing a “formless” poem,
and then using the result as a form: that is, write more poems in the same
form. You can also modify existing forms: how about a 15-line sonnet in
which the central line is a title? You can imagine forms using any of the
techniques in this list. You can thunk of a form before you write anything, and
then see how it works. Or you can let a form evolve out of something
“formless” that you write.
Asemics
Written language that cannot be “read” because it has no apparent words or
letters in it, but looks like it does. Fake writing, if you will. This is often done
with handwriting, but can also be done typographically. It can be used as a
score for Dada-like sound-poetry performance.
March 2016 – John M. Bennett

More info about John M. Bennett from the back cover of his latest publication, THE WORLD OF BURNING:

John M. Bennett’s poetry encapsulates the chaos characterizing our experience of and in this world, giving it a form and presence in words, phonemes, languages, and metaphor so compact and multi-meaningful, so ambiguous, that his poems glitter in their condensed expressive emotionality. The result is a universe that is gritty, carnal, and at the same time metaphysical and sublime, resonating in multiple worlds, cultures, times, and consciousnesses. Bennett does not “write poetry”, but uses poetry as a means of understanding and creating what cannot be understood and what cannot exist, but does very much exist in these pages. In the over 50 years of his writing, he has published more than 400 books and chapbooks, each quite different, yet distinctly Bennett, and has developed a startling variety of innovative techniques and approaches. His Select Poems appeared in 2016.

Photo of JMB taken in Japan ca. 1949 by Katherine G. Bennett or John W. Bennett

Photo of JMB taken in Japan ca. 1949 by Katherine G. Bennett or John W. Bennett

Sign for Nopalry

Sign for organically certified Nopalry

Incubator for impregnated cochinilla insects

Edgar Jahir Trujillo describes process of raising and harvesting cochinilla insects

Edgar Jahir Trujillo describes process of raising and harvesting cochinilla insects

edgar-jahir-trujillo-cochinilla-painting-using-dried-nepal-paddle-on-wing-sections-2016

Edgar experiments with cochinilla color variations

Edgar experiments with cochinilla color variations

A Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield, Harper Perennial, 2006, was recommended to me after one of our Aldus Society events by paper marbling and calligraphy artist/instructor, Ann Alaia Woods, when I told her about our upcoming visit to Oaxaca MX with the Archeological Conservancy group. The historical research and global perspective of this book illustrates the importance of a red dye [cochinilla granules] developed from a nopal cacti parasite in Oaxaca Mexico, which first came to Europe’s attention by way of the Spanish conquistadors. “Cochinilla” is the Spanish version of the word, and the oft used anglicized version is “cochineal”.  At one time cochineal granules were the least expensive per kilo, and were a more concentrated and color fast dye compared to other European red dyes on the market, so demand for it quickly made it as valuable as gold or silver. Weavers created gorgeous red robes and clothing which the rich and powerful class paid top dollar for. Later on, when synthetic dyes were invented, the competition was too great for the cochineal market to survive, and production in Oaxaca all but disappeared. [In regard to synthetic dyes, Ann recommends a book by Simon Garfield, MAUVE, How one man invented a color that changed the world. The Norton paperback edition came out in 2002. It is about the English scientist, William Perkin, and what developed from an accidental discovery he made when he was only eighteen.]

Today, a special nopalry (an organically certified cacti farm) exists in the state of Oaxaca as a way to bring back the important history of cochinilla in Oaxaca. It also provides many local crafts people with an organic natural source for red dye and other colors that can be obtained with additives. It was a pleasant surprise when a visit to the del Río Dueῆas nopalry was added to our tour group itinerary at the last minute! I even had my book with me to read during the trip, as I was only half finished with A Perfect Red.  A small museum was the beginning of our tour, followed by the nopal paddle green house, and then the studio where artist interns experiment with the dye in their artworks. Our guide was artist and architect, Edgar Jahir Trujillo, and he sold his cochinilla painting of a winged insect to a member of our group. The painting technique he used involved dried nopal paddles, dipped in the red dye, to impress texture onto the wings of a male cochinilla insect.

What follows is a narrative I wrote up from some notes taken during the nopalry tour, where we were able to learn firsthand about this natural dye that was originally produced only in the Oaxaca valley. Also included are my notes about a visit to a famous Oaxacan weaving workshop and a handmade paper co-op, both of which use and appreciate natural and locally produced dyes.

The nopal cacti grown at the nopalry has no needles, and only paddles from the highest quality plants are used in the greenhouse where the cochineal insect is nurtured. These parasitic insects are protected from too much sun, while micro predators are controlled as well as possible, and the cacti are protected from breezes that might blow the tiny insects away. The fertilized eggs of the female insect take 90 days to mature, then the insects on the nopal paddle are carefully removed with a fine bristled brush into a bowl (about 3 grams of insects per paddle). The fat, impregnated females that are best for breeding are separated out by a sieve and put into a woven palm mat tube (approx. 3″ long). Both ends of the tube are blocked with netting to protect the cochineal from predators like spiders. The tube nest is hooked onto a fresh nopal paddle which is control dated with an innoculation date. This date tells the greenhouse workers when the 3 month hatchling development period is up, and when to empty the females from the nest. A small orifice in the mat tube allows male and female baby bugs come out and populate the nopal paddle like the parasites that they are. Each female insect builds a white webbing around itself on the cacti, which helps protect it as it doesn’t move around and has no wings. (An aside: Zapotec mythology about the protective white webbing was that “The Cloud people surrounded blood from the gods with white fuzz.”) The males are tiny white flies with a life span of only three to five days. The male’s probiscus breaks off after coming out of the mother, so it can’t even eat! It’s only goal is to fly around and mate with females within its very short life span.

After 15 days of incubation in the palm mat tubes, the females are removed and added to other insects brushed from the nopal paddles that were not used for breeding. Together, they are set out to dehydrate and die in the sun, or they could also be dried in an oven. The nopal paddle (only used once) is fed to animals or composted. 140,000 of the dried insects equal one kilo of cochinilla. If you squish a cochinilla insect in your palm, its blood reacts with elements in the skin which affects the color. 30% of the cochinilla powder is pure coloring agent (pure pigment) that will last forever, and will not react to the PH of different surfaces. The carminic acid in the insect protects it from viruses, but is also the most important element used for dye. To get the carminic acid from the powder made from the dried insects, water plus alum are added to make a liquid, the liquid is boiled, then it is put through filters. Two chemical additives that achieve color variations are: Citric acid from limes for less scarlet, more pink, and bicarbonate of soda for mauve (dark purple).

Artist interns working at the nopalry are encouraged to experiment with the cochinilla granules in their art works. A few products like lipstick, dyed T-shirts, and books about the history of cochinilla are sold in a small gift shop. Note: Ignacio del Río Duῆas, the author of Grana Fina Cochinilla (published by the State of Oaxaca), is one of the main shakers and movers to revive the chocinilla industry in Oaxaca, and his book was available in the gift shop. Edgar told us that until the nopalry gets more investors they can’t create huge batches of products to sell. Money would be used for merchandizing efforts needed to move products quickly, but for now the dye is sold to local artists and craftspeople. Edgar pointed out to us that artificial dyes can be health hazards, though I’ve also read that there are some individuals who have bad allergic reactions to cochinilla. Another side note: Cochinilla is too organic for tattoo inks.

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On another day, 0ur group was graciously welcomed into the workshop of Isaac Vásquez Garcia and son, Jeronimo, who are Zapotec weavers from the weaving town of Teotitlán del Valle. They and other family members spin and dye their own wool, using it to weave beautiful rugs on big looms. These rugs sell well to tourists in their shop called “The Bug in the Rug”. When dying wool yarn with cochinilla (the bug!), alum and acacia fruits and freshly squeezed lime juice are added to fix, to darken or lighten or intensify the colors. They also use Tehuantepec indigo, dyes derived from lichens, the acacia tree, and other natural sources. Many of the original natural materials and the resulting dyes were displayed and demonstrated to our group by Mr. Vásquez Garcia. The book, A Perfect Red, especially mentions Isaac Vásquez Garcia as having “helped to breathe new life into Oaxaca’s age-old textile arts, allowing them to pass to a new generation.” And…”when the craft of natural dyeing had almost vanished from Oaxaca, a few artisans like Isaac Vásquez… sought to revive the old techniques. Coloring wool with cochineal…”

One day we visited a paper making co-op with a separate workshop for silkscreen printing, a gallery, and a gift shop. El Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca was begun in 1998 in San Agustín Etla, Oaxaca. Francisco Benjamín López Toledo is a famous Mexican artist who helped establish this paper making co-op and he commissions their paper to use in his art practice. Toledo helped get them a grant to create paper from only renewable sources and materials. It took 8 years of learning and organizing to establish the co-op. Today, artists come from China, Finland, Arab countries, and Japan to give paper workshops. They grow and use natural fibers from the Kapok tree (the green variety, as the black kapok tree is more rare) which is also known as the sacred Ceiba tree (Tree of Life). Also used are the natural fibers of Chichicastle, agave, Majahua, white cotton, Coyuche cotton, and lion’s paw.

fibers-for-papermaking-JMB-photo.jpg

Fibers used for papermaking (Photo credit: John M. Bennett)

These fibers are first boiled with bicarbonate of soda. Mechanized Hollander beaters are used to further break down the fibrous pulp. Lots of water is used for soaking the fibers and water also helps with the swishing of the pulp when it is screened. One of the co-op’s goals is to leave a low footprint, so used water is filtered and strained and treated so it’s fit to consume, then gets delivered to Oaxaca City by tank transport. In addition to only using natural fibers, they don’t use catalyzer agents. Their paper screening technique involves swishing liquid pulp from side to side and then up and down in order to cross stitch the fibers, thereby evening out and strengthening the paper. This workshop has their own watermark embedded in the boxed screen which leaves its mark in either bas or high relief; its design is a heart with a swimmer approaching. After swishing in the screen, the water is pressed out with big sheets of felt (using synthetic/industrial felt as it’s easier to peel off, doesn’t decompose as fast, and gets reused). Then the pressed pulp sheet is turned out onto a zinc tin sheet to dry. The tin sheets are cut from recycled materials like construction siding. Before the paper dries they can press decorative indentations into it, or add decorative leaves or shiny mica bits. In the same work room, hanging to dry, were molded paper portraits of historical Zapotec leaders we’d seen at one of the archeological sites with our tour group.

Tree bark may take up to 5 years to decompose before it’s ready to use, so this paper is pricey. Today’s cost is 300 or 400 pesos for a 2’x3′ sheet of handmade paper, though the strength of the US dollar made it very affordable for us to buy. There is a kind of Japanese seed that is made into gel that uses less fiber and makes a thinner, yet very strong paper. They can’t get it directly from Japan because of customs limits but a seller in Santa Ana (CA) makes it available to them in powder form. That lighter weight paper is the kind I bought from their shop, which I rolled up to pack in my suitcase. Other items in their shop included paper kites and blank paper journals silk screened with designs made by Francisco Toledo, and also jewelry made from rolled paper beads. See photos of their paper making process at: http://www.mexicoartshow.com/artepapel.html

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Remnants from one of my Fluxfest Chicago event scores (Fluxfest Chicago is an annual event organized by Keith Buchholz)- rearranged in various compositions on one of the glass block lights in the floor of the Rotunda Room at the Chicago Cultural Center, Friday May 27, 2016.

The original performance score happened in a gallery on Staten Island NY many years ago. I wore a fabric belt – same material as my shirt – took it off and swirled it into a spiral on the floor – then cut it up with grid-like cross cuts and offered the pieces to the audience. This was during NYC Fluxfest (2011), organized by Keith Buchholz, with additional Staten Island events organized by Mary Campbell and Viv Dey Dada.

At the Chicago Cultural Center event, I wore a long black scarf with gold metallic dots on it around my waste over a black T-shirt. Again, I swirled the material into a spiral then cut it up, but this time I wanted to incorporate the glass block floor light instead of sharing with the audience. I made one arrangement and called it the end of the event, and then a break was called. While everyone else went to an adjoining room, I took the opportunity to rearrange pieces into various compositions, documenting with a photo each time.

19MailArtMinneDaDa84 2016Tom Cassidy will be sending out documentation to all the mailart pARTicipants, but in the meantime, I can show you the photos I took on Day One of MinneDaDa1984 at Eat My Words Bookstore. Click on an image to view large. Ryosuke Cohen, of the famous 30+ year old BRAIN CELL project, was in attendance at MinneDaDa84!! I even got to sit for a bust version portrait by Ryosuke on Day Two of MinneDada84 at The Black Forrest Inn banquet room. A full body portrait of Ryosuke and a notebook of Tom Cassidy’s collected Brain Cells was displayed during an interview of Ryosuke on Day Three at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). More of my MinneDada84 photos are at: MY FACEBOOK PHOTO ALBUM or at MY FLICKR MINNEDADA84 ALBUM, though these don’t represent but a fraction of all the performance events, films, and PEOPLE of the event.

 

Image  —  Posted: April 20, 2016 in artistamps, collage, drawing, mailart, Mailart Call, travel, Uncategorized
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The Peeps Photo Project book: published 2016
by Jack Lattemann (aka Cascadia Artpost of Olympia, Washington USA) with his co-editor, Colin Scholl (presently living in a California correctional facility, with future plans to live in Washington state). Both are part of the international mailart network.

Wow! Talk about project documentation! This blog entry is my tribute to both of these guys for going above and beyond what I’ve come to expect from participating in a mailart project…. and as a book object, it is truly a labor of love. The day I received it in the mail I almost immediately started reading it to find out how every else had photo-documented their peeps with their own creative take, often letting the miniature PEEPS share in their own life circumstances, and I could not put it down until I’d perused most of it.

Of course, right from the beginning (January 2015) quite a bit of thought and care was taken by Colin and Jack to formulate the PEEPS project: Jack first solicited participants among 30 of his mailart contacts (27 followed through to completion), and he painted hundreds of miniature 1:87 scale plastic people that came in a variety of races, ages, and social classes, etc. He made up 30 packets with 15 to 25 peeps, a toy vehicle, and a little bench or other prop. Jack and Colin created 30 beautiful mailart themed boxes (sized like a cigar box) in which to mail the project elements to us. Examples of complete street scenes in an urban setting were constructed by Colin with little peeps on the set, going about the miniature life as usual, and photographed to give us all inspiration. We were given full reign of how we, ourselves, might choose to pose our peeps; and to construct whatever environment we might conceive, with a September 2015 deadline to submit photos of our scenarios.

Three seasons passed before the September deadline, after which we were to wait for a handmade book documentation of the project. What a surprise it was to me that Jack Lattemann had taken a few classes with aspirations to become a book binder! The long awaited book turned out to be hard bound in gold fabric covered boards (burgundy fabric on the spine), astutely edited (Jack consulted with Colin via mail on editorial decisions), designed and laid out, with fine paper and type choices, full color photographs, etc. all of which makes it a treasure to hold and to have on my book shelf. Using archival quality materials and lots of toner cartridges for the copier, he exceeded $1,000.00 in personal expenses (and didn’t ask us to contribute anything for our book!) So now, Jack Lattemann is truely an experienced book binder after spending over three months on the process: cutting fabric, covers, hinges, and endpapers; hand sewing nine signatures together for each of 35 hand numbered books of the original printing; gluing the block and endpapers onto the cover; and finally placing this block lettered title on each book with a fine sparkling green glitter – “THE PEEPS PHOTO PROJECT”, subtitled, “LIVING THE MINIATURE LIFE”.
The book’s introduction details many of the project details I’ve already mentioned above, and is signed by both editors, Jack Lattemann and Colin Scholl. The book was larger than they both first expected it would be, and perhaps that was why they omitted photo scenarios from their own staging of PEEPS. The editors generously include six chapters by Jennifer Weigel as she had kept a diary about her peeps characters and adventures, submitted as dated entries between January and October 2015. The editorial decision to break up this diary as six chapters interspersed amongst the rest adds a sense of continuity between everyone else’s individual visions, as various peeps story lines string us along until the end, when a kind of collaboration happens between Colin Scholl and Jennifer Weigel.

A special addendum chapter was added after the books had already been bound, due to an unplanned life event with a participant from Lviv, Ukraine. Jack told me he’s considering a small revised edition (a dozen or more) that will incorporate the Lubomyr Tymkiv addendum and a new afterword. He did not receive Lubomyr’s emailed photos until late February, 2016, after Lubomyr had finished almost a year of military service. The peeps traveled with Lubomyr to the front, and were captured in photographs posing with tanks, military tents, machine guns, and the natural elements in the countryside. He included a photo of himself leaning on a camouflaged anti-aircraft weapon. The contrast of the miniature life with the surreality of war, along with Colin Scholl’s sobering account of life in prison, adds a whole other level of substance to The PPP.

International list of mailart pARTicipants:

ARGENTINA: Samuel Montalvetti, CANADA: Reg Cộté, Adrienne Mason, Stewart Charlebois, Mailarta, Carolyn Oord (Kerosene), GERMANY: Eberhard Janke, Jörg Seifert and Jorn Michael, Patrizia (TIC TAC), GREECE: Katerina Nikoltsou, HUNGARY: Torma Cauli, LUXEMBOURG: Fraenz Frisch, UKRAINE: Lubomyr Tymkiv, UNITED KINGDOM: Mail Art Martha, Andrea McNeill, and the U.S.A.: PJM, Gina di Grazia, buZ blurr, Bethany Lee, Jennifer Weigel (including one collaboration with Jonathan Stangroom), Kenneth Brown, Carol Stetser, Sally Wassink, C. Mehrl Bennett, Tallie Jones, Jennifer Utter, John Held Jr., and last but not least, Colin Scholl and Jack Lattemann.

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MTS CMB artistamps 2nd Edition

Sometime in 2014 or 2015, Matthew Stolte of Madison, Wisconsin, created a TRASHPO collage and mailed it to me as mailart. [More of Matthew’s work, which also includes paint and stencils, or found objects coated with paint and used as stamps, can be seen at his blog by clicking HERE.] Matthew often advocates in his artwork for less plundering of our oceans and less water pollution, and this message comes through in many parts of his TRASHPO piece and other mailart and smallpress leaflets/books which he publishes.

After a long period had passed, this trashpoem resurfaced and caught my attention as something ripe for collaboration. I wanted to focus in on smaller areas, and dividing the sheet into a grid seemed the way to go, which meant to me that it was good material for an artistamp sheet.

This is actually a SECOND (revised) EDITION, date stamped today by hand on each stamp, and it is a LTD Edition because I only had FIVE perforated sheets to put through my inkjet printer. (Side note: I spray my inkjet printed sheets with UV protection.)

The FIRST edition was fifteen artistamp sheets and did NOT include the rubber stamped words I added to each image — only two of those sheets had the hand stamped words/phrases. Matthew may have made copies of the one I sent him that had my rubber stamped words/phrases, but those copies were not perforated sheets.

Reformatting each stamp enabled my rubber stamped word/phrase to fit within the block and a few visual composition details were added along the way, also MTB CMB are noted on each individual stamp. A third and larger edition may be in the offing later this year when I have more perforated sheets. Darlene Altschul (a California mailartist around my age) has been perforating a ream of A4 sized blank artistamp sheets for me for awhile now, as time permits, mailing them to me in small batches at a time. Physical perforations vs. graphic perforations are kind of a luxury, but they really add class, plus I’ve figured out a system for the printing my square format stamps on these A4 size sheets sheets.

The above posted scan is a low resolution image of the entire sheet, and unfortunately has a pink/gray color cast. In an effort to show you more detail, here is a slideshow of the individual stamps. There are 24 different artistamps and the slideshow gives more detail at larger than actual size against the actual white background. They feel like mini-abstract paintings to me, though the different forms of text (scribbling, found text from advertisements, rubber stamped words) add a poetic dimension.

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