Friday, September 22, 2017

Femail XX Mail Art Show - Held in Vermont - Unsung Femail XX Artists and Scientists

Sinclair Scripa created this wonderful mail art show held September 2017 at Stone Valley Arts Center in Poultney, Vermont.  Chuck Welch reports, "It looked as if 400 artists from over 30 countries were in this show, quite possibly Vermont's largest mail art show in over a decade or more ."

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 9th, 2017, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Forum: Sunday, September 10th, 2017,  3:00 – 5:00pm
Exhibit Dates: September 9 – October 1, 2017
Location: Stone Valley Arts at Fox Hill (145 E. Main Street, Poultney, VT 05764)

Why the theme? She wanted to create more awareness of the disparity between women and men artists' and scientists' opportunities. To quote in "Gender in The Art World, A Look At The Numbers"
  • $135 million: the gap between the highest priced artwork ever purchased at auction and the highest price ever purchased at auction for a female artist’s work
  • $51.3 million: the gap between the highest auction record for a living male artist to that of a living female artist
  • 1:  the number of women included in the top 10 living artists based on total value of secondary market sales (2011-2016)
  • 1: the number of Tier I female executive directors (out of 5) in the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District in the Denver metro area
  • 0: the number of women on the highest-selling individual lots for living artists (2011-2016)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Subversive World of ‘Cinderella Stamps’ by Emily Cleaver

These tiny artworks can’t be used for postage, but they do send a message.

Atlas Obscura July 13, 2017

Iles Des Sourds. 1964. Coquilles de mer, 1974, Donald Evans Courtesy Estate of Donald Evans and Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York 

The stamps issued in the tropical archipelago of Amis and Amants show a series of arcane islands in miniature watercolors. The sea sweeps the empty beaches of Outburst of Tenderness. Palm trees wave beneath stormy skies on the isle of First Love. From the shores of Fair Weather Friend a distant volcanic peak is visible on the horizon. On the island of Hand-in-Hand, mountains slope down to neatly ploughed fields.

These are Cinderella stamps; artifacts that look like stamps but aren’t. These islands of love and friendship don’t exist. They were painted by the American artist Donald Evans, who made thousands of stamps for 42 imaginary countries over a short, bright career, before his death in a house fire in 1977 at the age of 33.
Sabot. Poste Maritime., nd, Donald Evans.

Cinderella stamps can be anything from propaganda messages or charity labels to local stamps for obscure islands and tiny towns. You can’t send a letter through the official post with a Cinderella because they have no legal value, but that’s the attraction. It means anyone can make them, and the only restriction on what you can put on them is the stamp-maker’s imagination. Donald Evans was the king of the artistamp, a form of Cinderella made as an artistic work.

Artist Ginny Lloyd has been making artistamps under the pseudonym Gina Lotta since 1975. “An artistamp is a little museum,” she says. “You create an exhibit within a sheet of stamps. There’s complete freedom in what you want the content to be. They can have a political message, commemorate events from your life, whatever you want. I make sheets of stamps for people I know who’ve died. Some artists make them to distribute their work outside of the gallery system. Others mimic real stamps as a political commentary; some have had the Secret Service visit them for counterfeiting. Artistamps subvert in a quiet way. You have to look closely to see if they’re real or not.”

Gina Lotta Post Space Series. Courtesy Ginny Lloyd

As a kid Donald Evans built cities from cardboard, complete with houses and highways, churches and traffic. To make his imaginary worlds more real he wrote letters from them and made stamps to put on the envelopes. In the 1950s, between the ages of 10 and 15, he made hundreds of stamps, recording them in detail in his Catalogue of the World. He abandoned his hobby as a teenager, returning to it as an artist only once the cultural landscape had been transformed by Pop Art. (If it was okay to paint soup cans and comic strips, maybe it was okay to paint fake stamps.) Donald Evans dug out his childhood catalogues and began making stamps again.

Gnostis. 1949. Magical Symbols, 1972, Donald Evans.

He created countries to mark elements of his own life. Anything could be transformed into geography: a meal; a game of dominoes; a dance; a dinner party; a surname; a pair of shoes, a friendship, a love affair. His stamp issues minutely explored bird’s eggs, Chinese plates, Indonesian vegetables, alphabets, penguins, pasta, mushrooms, windmills, quilts, chairs and shells. To make his stamps look real he carved erasers to make postmarks and mounted his work on envelopes he distressed and addressed.

He kept the details of the lands he thought up deliberately and tantalizingly vague. He wanted viewers to step through these tiny doorways into worlds of their own imagination. These were vast territories, large enough to encompass all interpretations.

For other artistamp makers the form has been a way of making more political points. Unlike mass-produced official stamps, Cinderellas are hyper-local, often reflecting the personal preoccupations of the artist. Stamps traditionally commemorate the proud moments of a country, but Cinderellas can subvert that, marking the shameful or the perverse. 

Achterdijk. 1966. Pears of Achterdijk (Fondante de Charneu of Legipont),1972, Donald Evans

Artist Karl Schwesig drew faux stamps while imprisoned in 1940 at the Gurs concentration camp in southern France. He drew what he saw around him; the barbed wire, the guards; the bodies, the coffins heading for the burial ground. In the 1960s the Fluxus experimental art movement started using used stamps and mail art as a form of ‘living art’, a collaborative, anti-commercial medium that they sent out into the world instead of displaying in a gallery. Canadian conceptual artist Anna Banana, whose work satirises authority by parodying its symbols and concepts using the humble, humorous and nonsensical banana, produced a series of banana-themed stamps. Russian artist Natalie Lamanova has used stamps to explore issues of identity, ownership and control in 1990s post-Soviet Russia. American mail artist Otto David Sherman has been making stamps since the 1970s that highlight the disparity between the way nations represent themselves in official imagery and the actual actions of their rulers, depicting corrupt politicians and despots and showing first-world leaders in farcical poses; Vladimir Putin in a top hat, Donald Trump juxtaposed with a chimpanzee.

The artistamp community today is a DIY culture of makers swapping stamps through the post, mixing up drawing with image-editing software, color printing with pinking shears, internet forums with the traditional mail network. For a new generation it’s retaliation against the global with the super-local, against the mass-produced with the slow-made.   

Adjudane. 1922. Pictorals, 1972, Donald Evans.

Mail art creator Vittore Baroni has said that “Artistamps rebel against the monopoly of governmental emissions, claiming the right for everyone to self-produce and issue virtual values in any possible shape, number and subject.”

The countries Donald Evans created were peaceful, their politics idealized. The Island of the Deaf is a silent paradise with a capital called Hand-Talk. The country of Stein with its capital Gertrude is a literary dictatorship with 100 percent literacy. The imperial kingdom of Caluda emerges from a native takeover as the new independent state of Katibo, the Sudanese dialect word for a black man who sets himself free. He told the Paris Review in 1975 that his stamps were a “vicarious traveling for me to a made-up world that I like better than the one I’m in. No catastrophes occur. There are no generals or battles or warplanes on my stamps. The countries are innocent, peaceful, composed.”

Gina Lotta Post Future Series. Courtesy Ginny Lloyd

Ginny Lloyd sees in the artistamp an echo of a childhood fascination with unknown worlds. “The excitement I feel when I receive artistamps in the post is the same excitement I used to feel as a child when I would get packages of loose stamps for my collection. I would spend hours looking at all of these beautiful places outside of my very small town, dreaming about travel. I wanted to know more about other worlds and this was one of the ways I learned.”

The art of Donald Evans was subject to a raft of self-imposed restrictions. He only painted stamps, always in the same sizes with frequently recurring themes, in washed out colors painted with the same brush. He used this sameness, this deliberate smallness, to explore the infinite. His stamps are pieces of physical evidence sent directly from the limitless landscape of the imagination. 

For more information about artistamps and a gallery of work by many artists regularly updated see Books on the topic are also available.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

FeMail Artists - West Coast Correspondence Art School

There is some discussion about where this was taken but it is late 80s. I know because I am wearing a fave work outfit. Think it was Judy Hoffberg who took the  photo.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Most Dada Thing: Neo-Dada in San Francisco

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 through Saturday, December 31, 2016
San Francisco Public Library, Skylight Gallery, 6th Floor, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, California, 94102

The San Francisco History Center's SF Punk Archive and Book Arts & Special Collections are pleased to present The Most Dada Thing, an exhibition of artifacts left behind by the Bay Area Dadaists and the creators of Inter Dada 84. Inter Dada 84 was an internationally attended celebration of the spirit of DADA. It took place over seven days in Sept, 1984 in multiple SF locations, showcasing performances, videos, films, mail art, photography, lectures and carousing.

As part of the SF Dada World Fair my collection of Inter DADA 84 posters, publicity cards, etc and a selection of mail art are on exhibit at the SF Library's 6th floor Skylight Gallery. It will be available to see through December 31st. Check out the photos at the blog.

Also the book InterDADA84: True DADA Confessions is for sale at City Lights Books or at my online store. Videos are at the Interdada 84 blog.

This exhibit is sponsored by the San Francisco History Center’s SF Punk Archive and Book Arts & Special Collections.


Monday, July 18, 2016


I’ve been a collector most of my life.  I started out as a child collecting seashells, marbles, comics, stamps, posters, cameras, postcards, etc.  I’ve managed to pare down most of these collections with an over ambitious mother who gave away many of my childhood collections.  Now I am more focused in my collecting practice adding to my largest collection, artistamps {artist made stamps).

by Otto Sherman
I’ve had success obtaining some of the items in my collections on auction sites, have sold some of my own works online and I’ve been happy with the results.  Some tips follow to help a new collector or a refresher for the experienced:

What is your collecting goal?
Pick a passion; something you are drawn to; create a focus to your collecting and become knowledgeable of the art, the history, and the artists.  Give it your own point of view. If you choose something unusual you may find your sources may be less yet your finds can be more rewarding.

How will you add to your collection?
If you are on a budget and you make art too, you can trade or barter. You can buy one piece at a time or if you prefer you can acquire whole collections.  Online auctions are great for that. Don’t be shy about asking for a discount.  Senior women artists are considered a good bargain right now.  They have established a track record and usually make high quality art.

by Chuck Welch
How can you attract artists or find them for your collections?  How will you communicate with the artists? 
Social media is a wonderful way of locating other like minded collectors and artists.  This includes websites, blogs, online auction sites for fine art like Invaluable, and attending live auctions and exhibitions.  Identify underappreciated artists or underappreciated works by acknowledged artists for other sources of bargains.  

On Facebook you can setup groups on themes to attract like minded members to follow, put out calls for work and host discussions. Some of my best tips have been found online.  Tweet about your interests.  When I first started posting my Gina LottaPost Artistamps Museum and Archive I was surprised by the overwhelming positive response.

What are the benefits of networking?
You may find other collectors who will trade for works by an artist you collect.  Social media is a great place to discover networking events and conferences, and congresses
How will you organize and store your collection?
Creating a database at the minimum from the inception of your collection will provide you with more access to the works, information you’ve gathered for notes can be used for provenance and appraisals.
by Steve Smith

Start your archiving of your records from the beginning by creating and maintaining a database of some sort listing your acquisitions, the artist, where they are located, and any other notes that you might want included.  By starting this early it will be easier to maintain instead of creating this database later. It may be more practical to uniquely classify your collections by not archiving each in the same manner.  For instance my film photography is archived completely different from my digital photography based upon the usage and accessibility of the digital. It’s easier to make multiple digital copies for subject files where as the negatives have a contact sheet and a year and subject reference.

©2016 ginny lloyd

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How to Beat the Post Office Mail Art Show

How to Beat the Post Office Mail Art Show
Santa Monica College's Art Department - an international mail art exhibition Oct. 15 to Nov. 2, 1979
A lecture on mail art by Judith Hoffberg and a mail-art workshop conducted by Michael Mollett, Jeff Ginsberg, Don Emery and Lon Spiegelman.