Saturday, September 19, 2020

An Eighties Baby

As I continue to work on my Chaekgeori-inspired series, I am painting my own bookcases as well as my friends’ books and things.   While we all safely social distance, my friends send me snapshots of their bookshelves.  The books we have on our shelves say quite a bit about our personalities.  It should come as no surprise that in my circle of friends, the same books keep showing up – we have a lot in common.  
When it comes to the objects on our shelves, those choices are more unique and truly express our individuality.   When you see a much-cherished Alf doll given pride of place, you can assume that friend is an eighties baby.  

Postmarked or Post-marred?

When you send mail art you always take a chance that it will get roughed up along the way.  Like many artists, I use paper or clear envelopes for more delicate pieces.  When recipients post my handmade postcards online, I have seen some that have been postmarked on both sides.   I know some artists find this frustrating, but there is a side of me that appreciates that authentication.  You know it is genuine mail art when the postmark hits both sides.   That is what happened with some mail art I just received.  Including a portrait piece from Gregg Biggs, a lovely, original watercolor from Margo Hill and the latest sticker remnant collage piece from Heather Ferguson.  

Monday, September 7, 2020

More Books and Objects

Here is the latest still life in my Chaekgeori-inspired series.  This is one of my own bookcases — I can easily recognize nearly every title and I know the story behind every object.  The glass insulator was purchased at a roadside stand on my first trip to the Grand Canyon.  The Canadian, soapstone, totem poles have been on my bookshelves since I was about 10 years old.  On the bottom shelf there is a painting of Rhyolite, Nevada from my 2011 Project and mail art from South Africa from the artist Cuan Miles.

The curious object on the top shelf is a Mörksuggan.  The Mörksuggan or “dark sow” is a piece of folk art I received as a gift 40 years ago when I was first in Sweden.  It gently swings on the edge of a shelf and can come take away bad children during the night.  It’s a rather local and obscure piece of folk art and may be the only one in all of San Francisco.   I never have problem with bad children in my home, so it must work.

Monday, August 31, 2020


A few months ago, when I was using up my horde of old postage stamps, I put aside a pile of American flag stamps.   I envisioned some voting-themed mail art.  Alas, it is even more timely as the trumpists are now trying to destroy the US Postal Service in order to steal the election.  This batch of mail art is on its way.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Pandemic Chaekgeori

Whether casually chatting with friends, having a business meeting or being interviewed by the media, stationing yourselves in front of your bookcase seems to be the default way to communicate in these times.   Our books send a message, “Yes, I do read.” 

The books give clues to our tastes and personalities.  The seriousness of PBS NewsHour put Judy Woodruff showing off a red room of books to match her hair coloring.  One would think with her penchant for red dresses, we would find historian Lucy Worsley surrounded by red books — but she opts for a contrasting blue and grey wall of books without a red tome in sight.  Comedian Seth Myers manipulated old copies of his mother’s favorite book, The Thorn Birds.  And not at all funny, yet ironic, Betsy DeVos, the amoral and corrupt Secretary of “Education”, posed in front of a bookcase devoid of books.

The times we live in can certainly influence an artist’s work.  I am no exception.   While I have always lived surrounded by books, my inspiration came from a brief video posted by San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.   I discovered Chaekgeori — it’s a Korean still-life where the artist depicts books and objects on shelves.  My color-coded bookcases demanded to be painted.   Soon after, I started asking friends for photos of their bookcases. In some ways, each painting is as much a portrait as it is a still life.

All paintings are acrylic on paper, 9"x12".  These are the first ones, with more to follow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Five Months and Counting….

Or should we ask who’s counting? Yesterday marked five months of lockdown in San Francisco.  A few things have returned to normal, but we have a long way to go.  The post office is an easy one mile walk for me.  Page Street is one of our “slow streets” with less traffic and plenty of room to social distance.  Masked up, I can duck into the post office and check the box.
Here is a sampling of some of the mail art that has arrived this summer:
  1. Jennifer Utter – California
  2. e. coles – England (yes, that is remarkable and wonderful hand-embroidered mail art).
  3. Peter Müller – Germany
  4. Virgo – Russia 
  5. Marina Salmaso – Denmark
  6. Gregg Biggs – Museum of Unclaimed Ephemera – California
  7. Jon Foster – North Carolina 
  8. Katerina Nikoltsou – Greece
  9. Jennie Hinchcliff – California 
  10. Keith Chambers – California
  11. Lubomyr Tymkiv – Ukraine 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Unleashed TheARTre

This piece is on the way to Eberhard Janke (Edition Janus) in Berlin for his mail art call with the theme The Unleashed TheARTre.   Sending something from San Francisco, I felt the need to get out the glitter and memorialize one of our greatest homegrown theatre troupes — The Cockettes.  They were before my time in San Francisco and the Palace Pagoda Theatre is no more.  But I loved the performances when the Thrillpeddlers revived their shows in recent years.