MinXus Mail Bag: Fluxus Space Buck + More! by Cathy Barnett (O Fallon, Missouri, USA)

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Mail art by Kathy Barnett (O Fallon, Missouri, USA)

 

Making & distributing Fluxus Bucks is another long-running activity that is currently experiencing a revival in the international mail art network.

We have especially enjoyed seeing images of Fluxus Space Bucks displayed at IUOMA-Ning. Mail artist Kathy Barnett kindly sent this wonderful example for our humble blog & the MinXus-Lynxus Archive, which has a very large contemporary Fluxus collection. This also marks Kathy Barnett’s MinXus-LynXus debut: We extend a secret MinXus handshake to her, give a wink & offer a “Big Howdy” to this Tenderfoot already sticking a toe in the sometimes muddy Fluxus Creek.

According to introductory information in Ruud Janssen’s IUOMA-Ning Fluxus Buck group, “Fluxus Buck is an artistic project from Julie Jefferies aka. ex posto facto (USA) which she started in 1994. A Fluxus Buck is an artists’ banknote which she distributed into the Mail-Art network. Others created Fluxus Bucks as well.” (Ruud Janssen’s Fluxus Word project is an even earlier – 1988 – mail art activity that is still very much active today.)

Fluxus Bucks have been circulating for nearly 25 years. Truly remarkable examples can be found from around the world on the internet. Fluxus Bucks are, in fact, a world unto themselves (in which anyone can participate) & the IUOMA-Ning group is one place to get involved & learn more. Here is a link to the IUOMA-Ning Fluxus Buck group:

https://iuoma-network.ning.com/group/fluxusbuckscreators

Fluxus Buck creator Julie Jeffries (Paquette) currently resides in Dallas, Texas, USA. She maintains a Fluxus Buck page on Facebook where you can see great examples of Fluxus Bucks & connect with the artists who made them:

https://www.facebook.com/FluxusBucks/

We honor Julie Jeffries Paquette as the founder of Fluxus Bucks. But given the relatively late date of 1994, this Fluxus Space Buck has led us to meditate upon possibilities of earlier Fluxus Buck inspirations from the Fluxus movement that goes back to the 1960s. (If anyone has any insights, please share with us via comments!)

Fluxus leader George Maciunas (died 1978) had a vision that grew more pronounced as he neared his demise of Fluxus becoming an alternative community of artists living largely outside mainstream society & being self-sufficient. Other Fluxus members shared his vision.

In addition to a radically different perspective on culture (which is the core of the movement), there were schemes for Fluxus architecture, Fluxus sports, a Fluxus island or submarine (no kidding!), even stranger things & various Fluxus economic schemes to support the artists including Fluxus products.

The idea of an actual Fluxus currency (more than a parody or criticism of capitalism) is very much in accordance with the original movement. So, given current information, Julie Jeffries’ project is a fairly brilliant addendum to the Fluxus of George Maciunas (which, in fact, demanded rigid adherence that few could tolerate for long). The participating artists keep the Fluxus spirit moving.

Our new mail art friend Cathy Barnett has brilliantly enhanced the Fluxus Buck. The concept of Fluxus in space is just natural & part of a logical progression. Cathy Barnett deserves credit for helping advance Fluxus in the 21st century & thus making it new – as someone somewhere suggested about something else.

AND Cathy Barnett also included some other great mail art along with the Fluxus Space Buck:

 

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Mail art by Cathy Barnett

 

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Mail art by Cathy Barnett

 

 

 

 

 

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MinXus Mail Bag: “Pieces of Eight” Concept Mail Art by RCBz (St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA)

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“Pieces of Eight” : Mail art by RCBz (St. Cloud. Minnesota, USA)

 

Any Tenderfoot who has wetted her/his feet in the Eternal Network sufficiently (say a year or two) has probably encountered the very talented but elusive RCBz.

After close to a decade, here at The Ranch, we can’t claim to have learned all that much about RCBz, but we have gained an appreciation of his art. We do know that a number of networkers we deeply respect consider RCBz to be one of the finest digital collage makers out there. (That is, the collages are composed digitally but distributed via snail mail.)

RCBz has graced the humble MinXus-LynXus pages many times before. Yet time has been passing on the dusty, winding trail without so much as a smoke signal from our “Ol’ Bud” (as the great Fike calls a Camerado). Then we received this wonderful “Pieces of Eight” work from RCBz.

We call it “concept mail art” because RCBz built the composition(s) and mailing around a concept: He inter-connects himself & eight others through art. We believe this is the kind of “concept art” that makes mail art a great experience for participants & a unique genre.

Ironically, while the piece encourages unity & connects people who might not be ordinarily connected, it is achieved through fragmentation. (A “chance operations” element is built into the concept too.)

The concept is original – no question; but it echoes other concept pieces based on the dismembering of artwork by, for instance, Ray Johnson & Cheryl Penn (who cut up entire paintings & mailed the pieces all over the world).

Deepest thanks to RCBz!

 

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Samantha Price

Thea Hollister

De Villo Sloan

Jayne Birket Lyons

Pamela Suzanne Lashbrook

Fast Eyes

Jorge Martin

Stan Askew

 

The envelope:

 

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Scannerbed debris collab by RCBz & De Villo Sloan

 

 

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MinXus Mail Bag: “On the Road” Mail Art by Jessica Manack (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

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Mail art by Jessica Manack (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

 

“who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,” – Allen Ginsberg, Howl

Travel mail art, usually serial, usually issued as postcards from different locations on a journey, is a fascinating & fun correspondence art genre. Here at MinXus-Lynxus we have documented this travel or “On the Road” mail art in the past. But we have not received much recently.

So we were thrilled to receive a perfect example (albeit one postcard) of travel mail art sent by our dear postal friend Jessica Manack. (This also provides us with yet another occasion to include a beloved quote from Allen Ginsberg’s Howl that describes perfectly the travel mail art genre. Some of you are probably sick of it.)

“On the Road” mail art chronicles a journey & thus constructs a narrative. In the imaginative hands of correspondence artists, the story usually becomes much more than a record of places, landmarks & events (like what you ate for dinner).

Such work is often focused on the stream-of-consciousness process in the traveler’s mind rather than the exterior world. For example, Marie Wintzer did an extraordinary series of cards on a train trip across Japan that included her inmost thoughts & corresponding sketches of what she saw passing outside the train window.

The legendary Grigori Antonin (Minnesota, USA) issued cards describing a visit he supposedly made to Prague that in all likelihood never occurred. (Or maybe it did?) He carefully presented his views on tourist postcards of historic & cultural sites mixing fact & fiction in a most confusing way. He used various locations in Prague to reflect his views about other mail artists, among other musings.

 

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Jessica Manack is known to many in the Eternal Network. As you might infer from her comments, she is a part of the group that works in & advances the spirit of Fluxus (aka Post-Fluxus, Neo-Fluxus). (Although her work is not limited to Fluxus!) Fluxus had a foundational role in the mail art network, especially in the 1960s & 70s & the tradition continues. Indeed, Jessica Manack has attended the annual FluxFest in the past & even met Diane Keys!

Deepest thanks to Jessica Manack!

 

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Lost Legend Found: Meta-Trashpo by Thom Courcelle (Vermont, USA)

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Mail art by Thom Courcelle (Rutland, Vermont, USA)

 

We’re thrilled to see art by Thom Courcelle circulating in the Eternal Network again after a lengthy absence. We’re even more thrilled that some of his wonderful work found its way to our humble MinXus-Lynxus blog.

We believe Thom Courcelle is a wonderfully inventive & talented artist generally. He is also one who has earned the designation Legend of Trashpo fairly & squarely. Thom Courcelle was part of the extraordinarily hard working & deeply creative group that launched Trashpo & made it a network phenom. His friendship & regard for Diane Keys made him an early & devout Kulter.

So Thom Courcelle ranks among Diane Keys, KDJ, Nancy Bell Scott, Erni Baer, Lucky Pierre, Richard Canard, Borderline Grafix, Jim Leftwich, Gerda Osteneck, Jain Lions, Rebecca Guyver, Mail Art Martha, Svenja Wahl & select others (apologies if we forgot) whom we know today as Legends of Trashpo.

Mail art is intense & time consuming. No matter how much artists love the network, it is not uncommon for them to take breaks often due to life’s changing demands. Some never return. The best we can ever do is be understanding, helpful & let people follow their individual paths & evolution. But it’s always great when someone, especially someone much beloved like Thom Courcelle, returns. We hope he can manage to stay connected because he brings so much to all of us.

 

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Not Just Your Average Jonestown: The Rise of #dsfcult (Dopesick San Francisco)

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Mail art by DSF (Dopesick San Francisco) (aka Michael Kelly) (Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA)

 

We could begin this entry with a pithy, allusive statement such as: “By 2020 every mail artist will have their own cult.”

But any Tenderfoot who grazes even casually in these Elysian Fields of the Mink Ranch knows we are longtime DSF fans & can thus cut to the chase sooner than later. We’ve even named him among the Top 10 Mail Artists Active Today. And Dark Wall says it’s high time we fish in the MinXus Mail Bag for more recent work received from DSF that might have escaped earlier efforts. So here are some examples. And we want to give you an update on this #dsfcult business.

DSF is prolific & hardworking. He has a knack for producing memorable images (usually using the postcard form) & seeing they reach the right recipients on the ground & net for maximum exposure to benefit us all. The cards, stickers etc. are released in what could be considered “editions” with occasional hand alterations.

 

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Now for the Eternal Network news in case you missed it: DSF has now declared himself a cult. Apparently he is not content with the old Ray Johnson notion of fan clubs, but then we’ve all seen the influence & success of DKult for nearly a decade (preceded earlier by the Church of the Subgenius). #dsfcult might easily have the best marketing of them all. You can access a floating, changing body of material easily. You can even participate:

http://picdeer.com/tag/dsfcult

DSF/Michael Kelly has been embraced by DKult and the Trashpoets for some time. Relations remain strong despite this quasi-schism. Diane Keys & her court have no concern a neighbor has declared himself a cult. In fact, it as an inevitable & logical part of the evolution of mail art.

DSF 3.26.2019 - 3Mail art by DSF/Michael Kelly (Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA)

Things have also changed in the DSF line-up due to the sad passage of Karina the Dog who was DSF’s double & artistic inspiration.  We have noted previously the phenom of animals becoming mail art “stars.” Karina the Dog is one of the greats – RIP. In the wake & grief of Karina’s passage, DSF was left to re-invent himself necessarily. What we might be witnessing here is the emergence of a new persona.

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And finally, a few words about DSF we believe are of importance & offer insight into an artist who can be as cryptic & indeterminate as anyone in the network. In previous posts, we have praised DSF for his continuation of the Punk/anti-art stance that gave mail art energy & a new incarnation spanning the 80s into the first half of the 90s. Whether DSF had any connection to the earlier postal wave is unknown to us, but he clearly lived the life of the Marginals.

With the Punk aesthetic came nihilism, angst, alienation & despair, which was yet a continuation of the existential despair that ran through Western culture in the 60s & 70s &, yes, mail art too. BUT in a close examination of DSF’s work you will find an uplifting message about the human spirit & salvation. He is a realist but comes from a philosophical place far different from the despairing Punks of yore. DSF is much more a modern reconsideration of time spent on “Desolation Row” with different conclusions.

Deepest thanks, as ever, to DSF/Michael Kelly!

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MinXus Mail Bag: Bonniediva’s “Bon-Zine” (First Edition!) (Gurnee, Illinois, USA)

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Mail art zine by Bonniediva (Gurnee, Illinois, USA)

 

Resuming a theme begun in yesterday’s blog, Bonniediva is another relatively new networker who is receiving faves & raves for her unique vintage-Pop approach to art and – more recently – her FAB Bon-Zine. Bonniediva does not need the humble MinXus-Lynxus to further her praise. In fact, we would gladly nominate her for a Hardest Working Woman in Mail Art Award. Bonniediva’s artwork seems to be sprouting underfoot like marvelous magical mushrooms.

Tenderfoots know we are great fans of zines, having been in the network during at least one golden age of the genre (1980s). So we want to document the contemporary zine, which seems to be alive and thriving. Bonniediva also kindly sent us a first edition of the Bon-Zine. Without reproducing the entire issue, we’ll note its presence in the network.

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The Bon-Zine exhibits the norms of contemporary zines we see; it also has the DIY and charmingly eccentric feel of the classic mail art zines. The Bon-Zine is smaller than the older zines; and it is more self-consciously aesthetic than the earlier zines. The Bon-Zine is also self-aware of its ironies & kitsch; the earlier zines were not. One big difference is that the classic zines used content by many different writers & artists. Mail art was an ideal source of content. Thus, mail art and zines formed a happy union. Today, the zine is more autobiographical, which tends to help establish the persona that each mail artist develops.

We do not believe the high-80s zinesters were particularly cognizant of design. They were pioneers of new copy technology. They were influenced by the crude anti-art of Punk fanzines and posters, but this had not yet hardened into an aesthetic via several generations of art students. Truth be told – we believe – much Punk art and music was produced by people without talent and without the slightest interest in gaining skills. Yet it is the ghost of Punk aesthetic – refined & reformed – that brings life to Bon-Zine.  Another form that persists in Bon-Zine is the collage made populist by Fluxus and mail art.

 

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Mail art zine by Bonniediva

 

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As the 1980s progressed, the number of zines in the USA increased dramatically. They were fascinating and mostly underground publications. By the end of the decade before the internet turned zinesters into bloggers DIY zines were likely in the hundreds. We simply do not know. They exist in collections, archives and entire runs of some can be found online; but our knowledge is partial. We cannot estimate how many have ceen lost, so watch for old zines! Here in the 21st century, we can hopefully be more thorough in our documentation of these amazing productions.

Deepest thanks to Bonniediva!

 

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MinXus Mail Bag: “Trash without the Po” by Vikki Johnson (Morrison, Colorado, USA)

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Mail art by Vikki Johnson (Morrison, Colorado, USA)

It’s always gratifying to see a new mail artist – like a glorious butterfly emerging from a cocoon – begin to explore the forms, traditions & innovations unique to the Eternal Network.

So we are extra thrilled to extend a big “Howdy,” a wink & a secret MinXus handshake to Vikki Morrison of Colorado who graces our humble pages today with this foray into the realm of Trashpo. While Vikki Johnson demures & claims to extend only a toe into the landfill, we find much to admire in this work.

This is a large postcard-size piece apparently constructed of found materials. The interwoven hairs (?), fur (?), lint (?) add to the textural quality. Additionally, the work is sprinkled with glitter! Vikki Johnson is probably not aware of the Great Glam Glitter Revival being led by Legend of Trashpo DharmaDaDa Neil Gordon and my humble self.

I fancy that this mail art smells like banana bubble gum, but I am prone to curious neurological abnormalities that are the result of my participation as a human test subject in various scientific research projects long ago. These distortions can come upon me at any time, triggered by some random stimulus (perhaps hair or fur?). Thus, Vikki Johnson’s piece functions on several sensory levels, including touch. The Trashpoets know this as Haptic Poetry.

 

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Vikki Johnson’s kind message, unfortunately, raises only questions for me. Here is the precise quote that inspired the title: “This glue-y postcard may be Trash, but it’s definitely not po(etry).” Humility is a winning quality among Trashpoets & DKulters. But I can assure Vikki this piece qualifies as Trashpo. I must add that it lacks the organic “DKhaos” that has inspired so many Trashpoets; however, this kind of formal composition used by Vikki is used to great benefit in much Trashpo. Trashpo by Claire aka Cleo is a FAB example.

Vikki’s comments about opting “to take off the questionably successful stamps” and the reference to the “pizza circle” being lost in the mail are completely baffling to me. But overall, this is a marvelously successful venture into Trashpo (imho).

 

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