In response to the proposed closure of 3,700 post offices and the layoffs to follow, I have invited eight Bay Area artists to use the U.S. Postal Service as an analogy for decaying public institutions and our relationship to civil engagement in a digital age. The exhibition, Post Haste, will include new media, mixed media, sculpture and participatory works. It will be open to the public at the MacArthur B Arthur Gallery in Oakland, CA, from May 4 to 28 and is curated by Jayna Swartzman. We’re looking forward to the show already, but your donations will make it even better.
The U.S. Postal Service has struggled to remain relevant since the advent of digital media. Today, lightning-fast communication has replaced old-fashioned civilities, like physical correspondence and direct human interaction, because they often seem cumbersome and archaic in comparison. Post Haste examines these orphaned systems, like the Post Office, that once relied on actual, genuine human beings who are now being replaced by automated, whizz-bang electronic processes.
The artists in Post Haste will explore the USPS as a public service, through both traditional and contemporary methods, looking at civic centerpieces and government mechanisms that are no longer — at least physically — as present as they once were in ordinary life.
In a departure from his traditional sculptural work, Patrick Wilson's Over the Road Satellite is an active type of sculpture in the hybrid form of a post office collection box and space craft designed to collect phenomenological data by covertly documenting its journey in transit from San Francisco to LA with an infrared camera . We hope this will be the first leg of a much longer journey.
Patrick Wilson's Over The Road Satellite
Home (In) Security Blanket is Beverly Rayner’s quilt of bank-delivered security envelopes that weaves together the expectations and disappointments implied by this familiar packaging and interrogated the institutions that seal them.
Beverly Rayner's Home (in)Securities
In an extension of her Letters to New York project, Calcagno Cullen will use antique typewriters to transcribe letters dictated by gallery visitors. Cullen will then mail the letters to random recipients around the country and invite them to respond.
Calcagno Cullen's Letter to New York #548, and Response to Letter #548
“Snail mail” for some, is also a vehicle of ritual and craft (letter writing, stamp collecting, etc.) and a refuge for privacy and intimacy in a world where almost anyone can be Googled. Elizabeth Ribera honors these traditions in her cyanotype portraits of stamp collectors and a deeply personalized tapestry created from her collection of letters and postcards.
Post Haste is, of course, as much a critical artistic endeavor as it is a eulogy to a public institution, letter writing and tangible human exchange. The inevitability of this loss is expressed in Schuyler Robertson’s archive/mausoleum of letters originally conceived as a wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities.
Finally, Alicia Escott's, Letters Sent Sometime Before the Continents Divorced, a series of works previously distributed via the post office, will be presented for this show, as video chat renditions. Utilizing the nostalgia of letter writing and the tropes of love letters, these works expand on the idea of loss and the innate destruction in the process of evolution.
Alicia Escott's, Love Letters Sent Sometime Before the Continents Divorced
What your donation means
The artists participating in this project have generously contributed their talent, time and materials. If we can reach our $2,500 goal, it will mean no one will rack up credit card debt or pay out of already narrow pockets for things like shipping and insurance for the artwork and we’ll be able to provide small supply stipends that can help transform a great concept into a well-executed, fully formed artistic work.
For participatory works, like Cal, Patrick and Alicia’s, donations mean the cost of postage and shipping required to send their projects on their way. Elizabeth would like to convert her cyanotypes into actual government issued postage, the kind regularly collected by those whose visage she has so lovingly captured. And for Schuyler, funding means being able to purchase the vintage hardware necessary to build his library.
Drywall, paint, brackets and the occasional miscalculation are all installation expenses, and they add up. Not to mention the cost of marketing, such as postcards and alcohol (for the reception), snacks and web hosting — and yes, we do see the irony of using this cutting-edge fundraising website for this particular show.
Above all, your donation will allow us to develop a comprehensive and visually articulate exhibition that is as accessible as it is challenging. Your donation contributes to the impact of the exhibition experience for those who will participate in it. Further, it will sustain the creative practice of the contributing artists. They work hard to do what they do — trust us, we know them — and your contribution honors both their commitment to the arts and yours. Every dollar counts toward this goal. Thank you!
Spread the word!
Invite your friends and family! Tell them this is an extraordinary labor of love. Ask them to support local artists, and invite them to experience this post haste by forwarding this page as an email or tweet or in a postcard.
AND AN EXTRA SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE VIDEO PRODUCTION TEAM NATE MILTON, GABRIELLE TIGAN, AND BO GEDDES FOR THEIR GENEROSITY AND TALENT!
AND THANKS TO KEVIN CLARK FOR HOSTING THIS EXHIBITION AT MACARTHUR B ARTHUR!
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