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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“Sudoku & Paper Games” by Jean-Marc Rastorfer (Lausanne, Switzerland)

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Mail art by Jean-Marc Rastorfer (Lausanne, Switzerland)

 

We are thrilled to have received this exceptional correspondence art from Jean-Marc Rastorfer in Switzerland.

Jean-Marc is not an artist we recall personally from anywhere along the “long dusty trail,” but we are certainly thrilled to make his acquaintance now here in the New Order of things. Apparently Jean-Marc Rastorfer has been a considerable presence in the Eternal Network for many years. We found an early reference to him in the Lomholt Mail Art Archive:

http://www.lomholtmailartarchive.dk/networkers/jean-marc-rastorfer

Lomholt has material representing a time when mail art (late 70s – early 80s) was probably at its most conceptual and intellectual. This possibly gives a context for the interesting mailing being documented in this blog. Rastorfer is still active and turns up on contemporary blogs. For example, here he is on Rebecca Guyver’s wonderful The Postal Ledger blog:

http://thepostalleger.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-illusive-jean-marc-rastorfer-stamps.html

But enough background! Jean-Marc Rastorfer sent a wonderful letter explaining the mailing:

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Mail art by Jean-Marc Rastorfer (Lausanne, Switzerland)

 

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Interesting images – clearly vispo and asemics – appear on the reverse side of some of the cards:

 

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Mail art by Jean-Marc Rastorfer (Lausanne, Switzerland)

 

And the stamps:

 

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Mail art by Jean-Marc Rastorfer (Lausanne, Switzerland)

 

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Mud Head’s Cat Army is a “Happening” & You’re Invited (Phoenix, Arizona)

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Mail art by Mud Head (aka Chris Reynolds) (Scottsdale, Arizona, USA)

 

First, Mud Head’s Cat Army (Disorder of the Bee) is essentially a mail art call, so everyone is invited to participate. In our opinion, Cat Army is also one of the most creative, exciting and innovative calls currently being hosted (no criticism of other calls intended).

Cat Army is part of the breed of contemporary calls that combines snail mail with digital, performance art with digital video and numerous other permutations of “intermedia.” Thus, perhaps some postal purists will object to this new breed of “Happenings,” but Cat Army is certainly in the spirit of Fluxus and other aspects of the Ray Johnson mode of mail art.

Mud Head is a gifted post-avant artist – already a legend in the Eternal Network – who works and lives in the spirit of Fluxus and the Post-Fluxus impulse. Mud Head’s work has an added dimension of the visionary and philosophical, which gives it a depth and humanity beyond sterile aesthetics rooted in materialism. In short, Mud Head is the ideal Shaman-artist to lead this new kultur kult which echoes network deconstructive spiritualisms found previously in Neoism, Church of the SubGenius and DKult. Participants are surely in for a great time in this new order of things.

I am going to share some Cat Army propaganda Mud Head mailed me. You can also follow (and even submit work directly) via the “Disorder of the Bee (Cat Army)” page on Facebook:

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/235516740475332/

 

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Mail art by Mud Head (Scottsdale, Arizona, USA)

The envelope by Mud Head:

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Detail study:

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Official Mud Head photo (really him!) for Cat Army:

 

Mudhead - official cat army photo

 

 

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MinXus Mail Bag: Trashbook by Jean-Philippe Gilliot (St. Ghislain, Belgium)

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Mail art by Jean-Philippe Gilliot (Saint Ghislain, Belgium)

 

A warm welcome and a secret MinXus handshake are extended to Tenderfoot Jean-Philippe Gilliot of Belgium whose work graces our humble pages for the first time. Jean-Philippe Gilliott is a Tenderfoot here at MinXus-Lynxus but our research – as we are not traveling companions with this valiant slinger – indicates he is well-known in the network and has done much work of note.

We are thrilled he chose MinXus-Lynxus. Tenderfoots know we are huge fans of the great Belgian collage artists, poets and correspondence artists, among them Little Shiva, Thierry Tellier and Guido Vermeulen.

This piece sent by Jean-Philippe Gilliot appears to be nothing less than a brilliantly constructed Trashbook of the classic variety. This is the first Trashbook we have ever received from Belgium and we are absolutely thrilled!

 

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Jean-Philippe Gilliot included other items in the mailing separate from the Trashbook. These are interesting, mostly un-altered, found items, very similar to the ephemera included as a staple in a Trashpo mailing. We can only conclude this is intentionally Trashpo:

 

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And the FAB envelope:

 

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Deepest thanks to Jean-Philippe Gilliot!