Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!

A Pair of Gems Emerge from Pandemonium

 

Two friends sent creative responses to Plague Daze, my mail art project of May 1. Mary Hill sent an exquisite collage folder, and Anna Weaver sent an original poem responding to the ideas in my mail art. These pieces arrived the same day, and immediately my gratefulness turned to amazement, because my shared message of thanks introduced them, and each has a strong connection to 309 W. Martin Street in Raleigh, home of The Paper Plant.

 

 

 

Mary, a papermaker and collage/assemblage artist, moved from Artspace to The Paper Plant’s new artist rental space and it was a wonderful experience to share space with her. We became like family after being close neighbors in Oakwood. I love this piece so much.

 

 

 

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I met Anna Weaver by attending (and being the week’s winner of!) her open mike in downtown Raleigh, which is called Tongue & Groove. It now takes place in VAE’s space at 309 W. Martin – the site of The Paper Plant! She is a true performance poet, and therefore she and her work are dear to my heart. Enjoy her poem!

 

 

Anna is working on a fantastic project – a seasoned emcee, she is working on participating in open mikes in all fifty states. You can find out all about it at Open Mike Tourist.

This mail art gig rocks at present. Showered with beauty. Stay safe!

mail art at Raleigh Rambles

May 22, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art, Raleigh downtown | , , , | Leave a comment

Plague Daze – Mailing Out Some Love

Below are images of my mail art project (edition of 50) sent May 1 2020

back of folder (legal size folded into fourths)

Here’s to mail art in the new world!

JDJ 257 Baird Cove Rd. Asheville, NC 28804

Mail art on Raleigh Rambles

May 4, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art, reflection | | 1 Comment

Mail Art Response Provides Pandemic Panacea

Recently received mail art includes responses to Charts of the Universe 2020

We are extremely lucky, thus far at least, to be in our little mountain cove far from the hotspots during the trying times of Spring 2020. Just as the news got really bad, I was in the midst of mailing out a major project – Charts of the Universe 2020. Suddenly mail art seemed like a really good idea, and actually made the news, described as “a charming trend” on artnet.com. I got several nice responses to my Charts project, including some wonderful mail art pieces to add to my large collection.

Anna Podris created the image above as the centerpiece of her tri-fold mail art. Anna’s design responded directly to the Charts format, but I find the bird to be a perfect specimen of her own style, evoking her wonderful story-telling encaustics.

Anna Podris mail art object

Orvokki Crosby sent a wonderful mail art folder created from what appears to be a long dust jacket with many labor intensive additions, all textured with meticulous marker highlights. She is a big fan of snail mail and, like myself and many others, hopes mail art remains viable (along with the Postal Service that allows it to exist!)

Orvokki Crosby’s mailing from front

The mail art pictured at the top of the post features several postcards from Connie Bostic, a beloved Asheville artist and pillar of the BMC scene there, as well as John Justice, a new writer friend who says he is inspired by the mail art he has received. The “Quing” postcard is from Richard C, who curated the 1976 Ray Johnson mail art exhibit that got me started with mail art in the first place. Richard is going strong with mail art, and so am I. Maybe in the slightly new world in which we find ourselves, others too will see the value in this populist and irrepressible art form.

All Raleigh Rambles posts on mail art

May 2, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art | , , , | Leave a comment

Charts of the Universe Culminates After 33 Years

Just completed Charts of the Universe 2020, a collage booklet in an edition of 36. Each one features an original collage, as seen above, with the following image recipe: a wildlife image, a cultural image, Jesus and a redemptive butterfly, a connective ribbon and two different brackets.I have been creating and sending correspondence art since discovering Ray Johnson and his show of mail art at the downtown NC Museum of Art in 1976. Ray responded to the zine I sent him and I was hooked for life.

This series, as with most, including a similar project entitled Science and Truth published soon after the Trump election, looks for resonances between art and science, between data-based visuals and visual aesthetics, locating surprising beauty in graphic information. The current project wraps up the Charts project for me, which began as an installation of assemblages at The Paper Plant bookstore which was accompanied by a chapbook of Chart images. Images of the chapbook are below.

The show of assemblages included over a dozen works, some designed for individual people and a few general ones. Like the final booklet I just mailed, the project was dedicated to Clyde Smith, who took me to that life-changing Ray Johnson show, and Richard C, the curator of that show, who became a friend and correspondent who still sends me his wry and quirky postcards.

Though I will continue to Chart in personal correspondences, this booklet marks the completion of the project and its group pieces. Send me your snail mail and I will add you to my mailing list. You will probably get a Ray J Jumps In, a memorial project that I hope will never end. Cheers to mail art!

Project Updates

John Diamond-Nigh’s blog post featuring Charts 2020

        photo by Ginny Webb

                  photo by Tom Patterson

                   photo by Alan Bowling

 

March 18, 2020 Posted by | art, mail art | , , | 2 Comments

BOO KOF KNO WLE DGE – Ray J’s Zen Icons

John Held presents on mail art at BMC conference

The BMC conference in October 2010 at UNC-A offered a wide range of wonderful BMC nuggets, but having put off posting about it so long, I’m sticking with the Ray Johnson material which is always my main priority.  A big highlight was John Held’s mail art show and talk about mail art and the early days of the NY Correspondance School.

Ray’s inscrutable, radical but disarming approach to art has clearly led to a rich but fairly specialized body of critical writing and thinking about his work, immeshed but not entangled in the large “fan” following evident online.  The main points of the former relate to Black Mountain College influences, the main thrust of the latter is mail art and performance art.  Ray did not appear to observe such distinctions, but one thing I gained in the last two years of learning from BMCM+AC venues for Ray J work is that Ray Johnson was a major artist in the tradition of DuChamp, Miro, and Klee. Slowly, a body of academic work is relating his truly astonishing accomplishments  both in the mainstream tradition of painting and his unique and irresistible gift and mandate: “Steal beauty from the mundane.”

The conference presentations offered delicious details about Ray’s process. Sebastian Matthews provided the quote above as he compared Ray’s obsession with found images to the “image collage” of Frank O’Hara poem “A Step away From Them.”  Sebastian also elucidated with great insight about Ray’s Moticos, the secret embeddings and abrupt juxtapositions that Ray created in response to his environment.  For Sebastian, Ray is a zen master of art, always indirect though immediate, balancing inward and outward by being aware of the act of being aware.  Like O’Hara, a New York School poet, Ray scoured the city for images that enabled him to subvert and reconnect meanings.

Louly Peacock described how Ray subverted Pop Art (and pre-dated Warhol with celebrity portraits), teasing the major figures as in labeling Pollock “Action Jackson,” a nomiker that stuck.  Her survey of phallic imagery in Ray’s work made her yet again the most entertaining speaker at the conference.  Julie Thomson helped frame Ray’s performance art in showing the relationship between Ray and George Brecht of Fluxus fame, who” began to imagine a more modest, slyly provocative kind of art that would focus attention on the perceptual and cognitive experience of the viewer.”  Brecht created “instructions for a toward event,” and along with Alan Kaprow paved the way for the Happenings – not to speak of Ray’s Nothings.  Johanna Gosse portrayed Ray as a renegade of the gallery art world, deliberately obfuscating the market process, living in the “osmotic fluid flow” of daily aesthetic experiences, where the experience is the end, the process is the product.

Kate Dempsey revealed more of her discoveries about Albers’ fascination with pre-Columbian culture and how the Mayan hieroglyphs – still mysteries at the time- helped develop Ray’s sensitivity to text as an image source.  Ray retained a geometric precision even as he evolved out of painting, and his love of codes, puns and multiple meanings ties together his early and late work.

The best insights into Ray were to be found at the talk by John Held while sorrounded by his mail art show.  He walks the walk with mail art to this day and had much to share.  He confirmed something also mentioned in the panel discussions – Ray’s moticos were featured in the very first Village Voice in 1955.  He also described the importance of the 1970 correspondence art exhibit at The Whitney.  He made it convincingly clear that Ray’s correspondence art was “not about the postal system,” but about “how you communicate aesthetics over a long distance.”  Held stated that “Ray was building a community,’ and used no judgment or selection with his mailing lists.

John Held’s mail Art Show, BMC conference at UNC-A, October 2010

The mail art show he exhibited had 170 entries from over 40 countries.  It was impressive, entertaining, and a great tribute to the ongoing spirit of the NY Correspondance School.  Ray Johnson continues to generate not only interest and academic attention, but exciting participatory tributes and art directly tracable to his genius.

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One fun event I should share about from last fall is the presentation of a new BMC Wall in downtown Asheville.  A large mural and several interesting installations grace an alley just off Broadway.

                                 

BMC Wall lower detail

Several of the writers mentioned above are featured with Ray Johnson articles in an upcoming issue of the

Journal of Black Mountain College Studies

Sebastian Matthew’s Ray J show essay with lots of Ray J images!

Raleigh Rambles Black Mountain page 

Raleigh Rambles Ray Johnson page

August 12, 2011 Posted by | art, Black Mountain, mail art, Ray Johnson | , , | Leave a comment