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Upcoming Exhibit: Abstract Paintings by Lori Marble

Favorite Children’s Books Reimagined: What Do You See?, an exhibit featuring abstract paintings by Lori Marble, will soon be at the Library!

Remember your favorite books from childhood? Perhaps you even have one or two on your bookshelf today? Now, picture them reimagined as abstract paintings. Artist Lori Marble, the now adult child of a librarian, lovingly remembers the books that shaped her childhood.

She asked the librarians at Joplin Public and Post Art Libraries about their favorite children’s books, read them, and painted them in an abstract, mixed-media style. She paints in an ambidextrous fashion, laying down large swatches of bold color using a palette knife in her left hand, while incorporating bold brush strokes and subtle details with her right. Her love of symbolism and pattern is evident in each work on paper.

The display is purposely hung at a child’s eye-view and will prompt each viewer to ask “What do you see?” This exhibit is presented by the Post Art Library in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery. Free and open to the public.

An opening reception will be held in the gallery on Thursday, June 9th from 6-7pm.

For more information, contact Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan at (417) 623-7953 x1041.

“Ain’t Gonna Paint No More” by Lori Marble

A Trio of Non-Fiction in Teen

The Chalk Art Handbook: How to Create Masterpieces on Driveways and Sidewalks and in Playgrounds by David Zinn

Everything You Need to Ace…in One Big Fat Notebook series, various authors

The LEGO Castle Book: Build Your Own Mini Medieval World by Jeff Friesen

It’s spring!  Or, at least it finally feels like it.  Flowers and trees and shrubs are blooming around town, and possibility is in the air.  Here in the Library’s Teen Department, the latest crop of books has as much variety and promise as the flowers outside.  Take a look at these non-fiction titles just waiting to be discovered!

For middle school and high school students who are wrapping up the semester and preparing for finals, try a title in the Everything You Need to Ace…in One Big Fat Notebook series from Workman Publishing.  Created by the editors of the popular educational game Brain Quest and written by authors with experience in the given field, each book is like borrowing the notes of the organized, thorough student in class.  

Each title in the series breaks down key concepts into important, easily understood components covering the subject.  The books are laid out like school notebooks with lined pages, handwritten fonts, and color-coded highlighted sections.  Doodles illustrating complex topics are scattered throughout as are mnemonic devices, definitions of key terms, and quizzes for review.  Compact-yet-thick, these titles easily fit into a backpack and are far easier to carry than most textbooks.

Disclaimer: the Big Fat Notebook series, while an amazing resource, is not a substitute for actually paying attention in class!  It is fantastic for review, confidence building, and reinforcement of concepts before exams or in smaller bites during the semester.  The series covers major subjects–computer science/coding, math, science, world history, American history, English language arts for middle school and pre-algebra/algebra 1, chemistry, biology, and geometry for high school.  They are super helpful and accessible, great for middle school and high school students plus adults wanting to catch up on these subjects.  (Where were these when I was in eighth-grade algebra?!)

To let off steam after studying, break out some LEGOs and try The LEGO Castle Book: Build Your Own Mini Medieval World by Jeff Friesen.  Written for LEGO enthusiasts, this straightforward, concise title begins with a history of castles and a tour of their architecture then moves to building different types of castles and landscaping a medieval village from LEGOs, ending with instructions for 6 “master builds” (even a dragon).

The book’s layout is clean and clear, with color photos of completed and in-progress builds throughout.  The brief text provides just the right amount of context for background; text in the builds sections is designed to look like manuals from LEGO sets, showing important phases along the way.  Builds and book are designed for LEGO fans with some experience plus access to the variety of bricks listed (a few specialty ones).  I was pleased to see a quick guide to the variety of bricks used (including color photographs showing individual bricks/plates with their official numbers) and a discussion of economical sources for purchasing the bricks needed.

Also, I was excited that the builds were grounded in history.  Author Jeff Friesen identifies major types of medieval (European) castles with photos of completed LEGO versions and interesting text.  He also depicts the main parts of the castle and the community within its walls and how to construct them, tossing in handy tips along the way such as using minifigure accessories as turret finials.  He reminds readers that castle life was real life a thousand years ago, discussing topics like the role of castle builders, the cost and building process, and how castle architecture is tied to its defense.  The LEGO Castle Book is great for teens, adults, or upper elementary ages with a passion for LEGO; pair this with David Macaulay’s classic Castle for a fantastic dive into the subject.

Looking for a different creative outlet?  Try The Chalk Art Handbook: How to Create Masterpieces on Driveways and Sidewalks and in Playgrounds by David Zinn for some outdoor fun.  Zinn has been creating delightful, amusing chalk drawings around his Michigan hometown for years and shares his enthusiasm and expertise in this guide to accessible outdoor art.

Zinn’s tone is warm and encouraging with a light sprinkling of dad humor.  He offers basic techniques and advice for drawing 2-D and 3-D illustrations on outdoor surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, and brick.  Viewing this art form as both an opportunity to stretch skills and to bring joy to the community, he emphasizes a respectful approach (ask permission, use media that will wash away, etc.).  Color photos of his completed and in-process artwork illustrate his tips and techniques.  His advice is concrete (no pun intended) and accessible although geared toward teens who have some drawing experience and skill.  He assumes a base level of drawing knowledge which could be frustrating for someone trying it for the first time.  

He invites artists to consider basic creative components before starting–what will you draw?  How many?  How will your creature(s) move around?  What is happening in the picture?  Then he moves to more detailed information about dealing with the drawing surface at hand.  Zinn identifies various paved surfaces (concrete, macadam, paving stones, etc.) giving hints about turning their natural, imperfect states into part of the picture–pits and holes in concrete become the eyes and ears and nostrils of a hippo, a manhole cover becomes a cookie about to be eaten by a monster.  As he notes, art tells a story, and depicting emotion is key even if it’s a small component, “Eyebrows are powerful things. Always use them wisely, both in your drawings and on your own face.”

The Chalk Art Handbook is packed with tips for creating whimsical, thoughtful drawings to delight artist and neighborhood alike.  It serves as encouragement and inspiration to teens with drawing experience and/or an interest in sidewalk art, including 3-D illusion pictures.  Everybody can win when public art is shared because “More art in more places brings more people more joy”.

Stop by the Library for these and many more titles blooming this spring!

Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Pity Comic Sans, the font that people love to hate. Developed by Vincent Connare in the mid-1990s, Comic Sans is what author Simon Garfield describes as “type that has gone wrong” in his book Just My Type, an engaging history of type (which, these days, the average person refers to as a ‘font,’ but more on that later).

Connare designed Comic Sans as a reaction against the perceived formality of Times New Roman. Specifically, as a new typeface for Microsoft Bob, a user-friendly software program designed for people who didn’t use – or were frightened of – computers. Connare believed that Times New Roman didn’t mesh well with other elements of the software, such as its “accessible language and […] appealing illustrations.” Ultimately, Connare’s new type couldn’t be worked into the package. Guess what? Microsoft Bob failed. Not long afterward, Connare’s Comic Sans was released in another software package that indeed became popular.

Then, after being included in Windows 95, Comic Sans was everywhere. So much so that people got sick of it. Like, really sick of it. Garfield tells us of Holly and David Combs, a couple who made an anti-Comic Sans website and sold “Ban Comic Sans” merchandise. It’s not necessarily that the Combs thought Comic Sans had no place in the world, but that it needed to be put back in its place. This seemingly ubiquitous hatred of Comic Sans is not unlike how people love to hate Merlot–they know little about its complexities, nuances, and when it is, in fact, a smart, or dare I say the right, choice.

Not only does Garfield give us the history of type/fonts, but, in some cases, the histories of their creators. One such case is the grisly history (that I definitely won’t mention here) of Eric Gill, whose typeface Gill Sans appeared in 1928 as “one of the twentieth century’s earliest and classic sans serif fonts” and is still widely used today.

Speaking of Sans Serif fonts, what’s the difference between that and Serif? I’ll tell you, but Garfield will tell you better with one of the fantastic visuals that accompany the text throughout his book. Serif fonts have feet and tips, which are the serifs. Remove those and voila! You have Sans Serif.

So what about this whole typeface and type/font thing? While typeface is a certain style of lettering, fonts refer to variations of a typeface, including size, weight, and so on. Garfield writes: “Fonts were once known as founts. Fonts and founts weren’t the same as typefaces, and typefaces weren’t the same as type.” He highlights this and many other more technical aspects of typography that, admittedly, readers without a keen interest in type may not find interesting. For example, typographers once had typescales (depth scales) for measuring not only the type, but the space between it, both of which are referred to as the point size, or, for typographers (and printers, as in printing presses) these measurements are grouped into picas.

“DIY” is one of my favorite chapters because it introduced me to the John Bull Printing Outfit, a DIY typographic kit released in the 1930s. It was both creative and educational and, to me, looks and sounds like loads of fun (Hello, eBay!). Garfield goes on to discuss other methods of personal printing, from Letrasets to typewriters to floppy disks, ending the chapter saying that “well-printed” materials are “fast becoming heritage,” yet “typefaces – both their preponderance and ingenuity – have not suffered a similar decline in fortunes.” He writes further that perhaps we have too many.

I particularly appreciate how easy-reading this book is. Although I didn’t learn this till 250 pages in, the book is set in Sabon, which is known for its readability. Perhaps my sharing this with you is somewhat of a spoiler, but I have good reason for doing so. That I thought the book was easy-reading before knowing a particular font was chosen to achieve just that illustrates how much of a connection we have between text – not just what it says, but how it looks – and the way we process information and, more generally, the world.

Literally every printed word was someone’s decision to use a particular typeface or font. The newspaper (or screen, if that’s your style) that you’re holding in your hand to read this review is but one example. Whether we realize it or not – or like it or not – the way that things look impact the way that we interact with them and fonts are no exception. Have you ever been put off by some fonts and not others? Made choices as a consumer based on fonts and labels? Sure you have, as have I.

Garfield reminds us that, like anything else, fonts have rules. Though he’s not necessarily opposed, he wonders “to what extent do rules stifle individuality and creativity?” (Good question.) I’ll leave you with a few so-called rules mentioned by Garfield, though he attributes them to Paul Felton: “Thou shalt not apply more than three typefaces in a document;” “Remember that a typeface that is not legible is not truly a typeface;” and “Thou shalt not use only capitals when setting vast body copy.”

As always, happy reading.

Find in catalog.

Young Artists Gallery Exhibit

We’re glad to partner with Post Art Library for the inaugural exhibit of our Young Artists Club!

Open to children through age 12, the Young Artists Club meets monthly to learn new art techniques and make artwork. Exhibited here are their self-portraits, which they learned how to create in April.

Join us on Friday, May 13th from 4pm-5pm for the Young Artists Gallery closing reception.

For more information about the Young Artists Club, visit the Children’s Library or call 417-623-7953 x 1035.

Art in the library is curated by Post Art Library.

Radius Books

A couple of times a year, we receive a box of free art books from Radius Books, a nonprofit publisher based out of Sante Fe, New Mexico, that aspires “to make a lasting impact through [their] Publishing and Donation programs.” Founded in 2007, Radius Books has published over 150 titles and donated – gifted, rather, as they say on their website – over 75,000 books to “libraries, schools, and arts programs in all 50 states.” Thanks to their generosity, we’re fortunate enough to have a small, though growing, collection of Radius Books in our library’s Post Reading Room.

Books by the same publisher tend to become formulaic, with look-alike layouts, consistent components, matching materials, and similar sizes and styles, even if and when they are not part of a series. Which, admittedly, is fine for most books, but for art books? …Radius Books are unique, wonderfully well-thought out, and beautiful. Although visual artwork is the mainstay, cultural, historical, informational, and social content is woven into the fabric of many of Radius’ titles and, when done, is done so in a manner that complements the visual artwork. What’s more, their offerings are diverse. Not only as diversity relates to art forms and mediums, but as it relates to the representation of a range of people. Time and again the result is stunning.

Perhaps I’ve only just now realized the challenge of relaying the uniqueness and beauty of these books to you. But I’ll do my best by discussing a few of the 35+ Radius Books that we have in our collection.

Masumi Hayashi: Panoramic Photo Collages, 1976-2006 does, in fact, take the shape of a panoramic photograph. Beginning with an essay penned by Barbara Tannenbaum, in which she describes Hayashi as using “art to awaken people gently but insistently to societal ills,” the book then moves into six sections of vivid, sometimes surreal, plates: Post-Industrial Landscapes; EPA Superfund Sites; Abandoned Prisons; Cities; Japanese American & Canadian Internment Camps; and Sacred Architectures. In this work, Hayashi creates individual panoramic photo collages by combining hundreds of still photos. Some of the already rectangular-shaped plates (i.e. pages) fold out into even larger panoramic collages.

Remnants: Photographs of the Lower East Side is a collection of photographs by Janet Russek & David Scheinbaum that documents the vibrant, yet vanishing, Jewish heritage of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which Amy Stein-Milford refers to as “a place of origin, a Plymouth Rock, the neighborhood where it all started” for many American Jews. Stein-Milford goes on to write that today, “that history is imperiled.” Publications such as this help to preserve that heritage. One of the many interesting stories within this book is one about Joel Russ. In 1907, he immigrated from what is now Poland and sold herring out of a barrel until, in 1914, he could build a brick and mortar store. In 1933, he renamed his business “Russ & Daughters,” making his daughters business partners. This is known as the first business in the United State with “& Daughters” in its name–quite a controversy at the time!

Interwoven is one of the most intriguing art books that I’ve come across, full stop. This title features the work of Kyle Meyer, an American Artist who spent extended periods of time in Swaziland, and raises awareness about the “hostility and brutal discrimination” faced by members of Eswatini LGBTQI community. In the book’s foreword, Todd J. Tubutis describes how Meyer makes his work: he “hand-shreds each photographic print and weaves it together with strips of fabric worn by the sitter, creating a series of larger-than-life portraits that are both flat and dimensional, both digital and handmade.” Meyer’s work is brilliant. Throughout the book are transcriptions of hand-written notes. Also, the book incorporates pages of fabric reproductions of the actual fabric woven into the works of art depicted in the plates.

The aforementioned titles focus on photography, or photography-related artworks, because that is a particular interest of mine. Our Radius Books collection does, however, include books about other art forms and mediums, such as the sculpture work of artist John McCracken, the recycled and embroidered textiles of Bengal in Kantha, the drawings of Linn Meyers, and much more.

Our Radius Books collection is an incredible resource for anyone and everyone interested in visual art. We are thankful to be on their mailing list and that their organization does the work that they do to amplify voices while making art more accessible. Although these books cannot be checked out, they are available for your in-house use and make for great fireside companions. So as the days get colder and winter approaches, I encourage you to carve out some time to visit the library’s Post Reading Room, peruse our Radius Books collection, and choose a few titles to enjoy by the fireside. As always, happy reading.

Find Masumi Hayashi:Panoramic Photo Collages, 1976-2006 in catalog.
Find Remnants: Photographs of the Lower East Side in catalog.

Art by Luke Blevins in Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery

We’re glad to present Queer Space by Luke Blevins in Joplin Public Library’s Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery from Sunday, October 10-Friday, December 31, 2021.

In this work, Blevins explores the tangential relationships between boyhood, social expectations, queer culture, and heteronormative assimilationism. He uses fantastical imagery to illustrate the shifting relationships we have with space and community as we grow and develop into our own persons. Through digital manipulation and processes, he creates imagery that proposes narratives without conclusions. Blevins was born and raised in Southwest Missouri. He studied art at Missouri Southern State University before earning his Master of Arts at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He teaches at Crowder College in the evenings and works in Admissions at Missouri Southern during the day.

The exhibit is FREE and open during the library’s regular hours of operation, no Library card required.  For more information, contact Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041 or jhsullivan@postartlibrary.org.

DK’s Big Ideas Simply Explained Series

It’s likely that, at one time or another, you’ve perused a guide by DK, the British-based publisher of illustrated reference books in 60+ languages. This multinational publisher has numerous series that cover a seemingly endless list of topics, such as arts and culture, health and beauty, language learning, religions and ideas, transportation, and much more. Regardless of which series or topic, their books tend to be thorough (some would say dense), visual (some would say overstimulating), and full (some would say jam-packed). Generally, there’s a lot happening – text, charts, timelines, images/photos, quotes, illustrations, micro-bios, etc. – at once on any given page. In my experience, people either adore or abhor them, with little opinion in between. Me? I adore them!

My most recent DK adventure took me through three titles from their Big Ideas Simply Explained series: The Art Book, The Economics Book, and The Philosophy Book. Rather than discuss each book individually, I’ll treat them collectively. I might mention, too, that these are but three of 20+ topics covered in this series. Others include astronomy, business, history, literature, movies, politics, science, and more. Two people are covered so in-depth that entire volumes are dedicated to them—Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes.

Each of the three that I reviewed are around 350 pages, with similar layouts: a 3-4 page table of contents (which is itself illustrated); a 4-6 page introduction; six sections that cover the big ideas in that field; and, in the economics and philosophy books, a directory and glossary, while the art book contains a glossary and, rather than a directory, portfolio and quotation sources. The books are, as is typical of reference-style nonfiction, larger and somewhat heavy, thus more of a coffee table or lap book than one you’d want to accidentally drop on your face when holding it above, reading before bedtime. They are textbook-ish (which I like).

This series lends itself well to either reading the whole book (though I did not read each from cover to cover), reading bits and pieces here and there, or reading section by section (and not necessarily in the order that they are presented). Of the three, I spent the most time with The Art Book. Like in the other books, each section begins with an introduction that includes a timeline through a particular period in that subject. For example, the “Romanticism to symbolism” timeline spans 1800-1893, beginning with Francisco de Goya’s The Naked Maja (which he got into trouble for) and ending with Edvard Munch’s ubiquitous The Scream.

Unique to The Art Book, however, is the “Portfolio” at the end of each section, which lists influential artists/works for that period. The “Portfolio” equivalent in The Economics Book and The Philosophy Book is the “Directory” at the end of the books that list people important to those fields. Additionally, “See also” cross-references are listed, which helps connect theorists and philosophers not only to one another, but to other aspects of the ideas that they represent in a manner that’s different than how they’re contextualized within the text proper. You could, if you wanted to, just read the directory listings and their associated “See also” pages to learn about certain people or theories somewhat thematically (rather than chronologically).

DK promotes this series as a “graphic and quote-led approach.” Indeed, it is. What I like about this approach is that the graphics and quotes – some of which take up whole pages – break up the text nicely while vividly illustrating the points discussed. The “In context” text boxes, which are found throughout the series, are especially helpful, as are the biographical text boxes, which offer a short list of key works.

I realize that I’m writing more about how the books may be used than how they read. For me, usability is part of what makes books like these good. If the organization of information within is not approachable, or accessible in different ways, then the book is less usable. Although I haven’t thumbed through all the books in the Big Ideas Simply Explained series, I assume that they’re comparably organized. Sure, there’s a lot going on from cover to cover – illustrations, graphics, photographs, quotes, asides, and such – and, I admit, that may become distracting, overwhelming even, but, overall, I find the books in this series very usable. And I look forward to more!

As always, happy reading.

My Missouri 2021 Photo Project Exhibit

In celebration of its 200th year, Missouri 2021, an initiative of The State Historical Society of Missouri, coordinated the My Missouri 2021 Photo Project and it’s visiting our library!

In 2018, Missouri 2021 invited professional and amateur photographers from across the state to capture and share unique and meaningful aspects of place in Missouri. Of the nearly 1,000 photographs submitted, 200 were chosen for a traveling exhibition – including several of Joplin and surrounding areas!

My Missouri 2021 is oriented around the four seasons and showcases the geographic and cultural landscape of the state. They provide an opportunity on the occasion of Missouri’s Bicentennial to reflect upon and increase the understanding of the state’s rich diversity while recognizing the many things its people share. My Missouri 2021 will be in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery (off of our lobby) from Saturday, September 4, 2021, through Sunday, September 26, 2021.

Shelter Insurance® is the platinum sponsor of the My Missouri 2021 exhibition. The exhibition was designed by PRO Expo Exhibits, the gold sponsor for the show, and supported by contributors to The State Historical Society of Missouri. Exhibits in the library are curated by Post Art Library. For more information, contact Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

 

 

Tell your Tale with Art! Summer Reading Art Challenge Display is open now

In partnership with the Post Art Library, the Summer Reading Art Challenge 2021 “Tell your Tale with Art! What’s the Story of You?!” display is now open and ready for visitors! The display features over forty entries that were created by our community. These local artists used all forms, mediums, and mixed-media to create their designs. The artwork will be exhibited in the Local History and Genealogy section of the Library from now until September 25, 2021.

This display is totally free to view, no Library card is necessary. We are also urging our visitors to vote for their favorite artwork in each category. A “People’s Choice” winner will be chosen for Children’s, Teen, and Adult entries. Come and enjoy these beautiful creations soon.

Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler

In 2014 we, meaning Post Art Library (the privately funded not-for-profit arts organization located inside Joplin Public Library since 1981), put out a call for entry for mail art. The idea was to create a one-off exhibit of mail art received from all over the world to introduce locals to the medium and encourage their participation. At the time, I was myself somewhat new to engaging with mail art and my experience with the world-wide mail art Network – yes, that’s a thing – was limited at best. Yet there I was, helping to coordinate a mail art call for entry and co-curate the resulting show. Enter Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler’s Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art.

This book differs from other mail art books that I’ve read (such as Mail Me Art by Darren Di Lieto and Correspondence Art, edited by Michael Crane and Mary Stofflet, both of which are wonderful) in that it’s not only a gallery of mail art, but a sort of mail art workshop, as the authors offer oodles of advice for how to make mail art, start a mail art project, and navigate the mail art world. Plus, it introduces readers to mail art terminology and, perhaps most importantly, mail art etiquette.

But what’s mail art? A basic, common definition of mail art (a.k.a. correspondence or postal art) is that mail art is when people send small-scale works of art to one another through the postal service, often with the package itself being considered the work of art. Frankly, that definition falls flat and fails to describe the vibrancy of this decades-long movement. In my experience, the best way to describe mail art is to hand someone a stack of it. The only sure thing about mail art is that it is, as Hinchcliff and Gilligan Wheeler write, for everyone: “Anyone can be a mail artist, regardless of skill level or style of artwork.” The mail art itself is all over the place and all mediums are welcome. (The authors remind us, however, not to send anyone anything that we don’t want to deal with in our own mailboxes, such as perishable items.)

Although mail art is for everyone, the Network, like any other, has some basic rules. Namely, that “every piece of mail art that comes into your mailbox should receive some sort of acknowledgement in return.” That is, send something back! In the mail art world, this reciprocity is known as documentation. “No returns” is another tenet of mail art exchanges, meaning that each piece you receive is yours to keep, just as each piece you send out is someone else’s to keep. I appreciate that Hinchcliff and Gilligan Wheeler tell us the rules and “Time-honored Traditions” of mail art culture at the start. It’s as if they’re telling us that if we cannot respect those rules, then we needn’t read further or participate.

Of course, there are non-Network rules that mail artists must abide by, such as those of the postal service (or services, when mailing internationally). As such, we’re reminded to become familiar with our local postal regulations and to keep in mind that mail is categorized based not only on shape, but on thickness and weight. For example, if an envelope exceeds the maximum dimensions or thickness, then it may be categorized as a package and, accordingly, require more postage. The chapter that touches on regulations also includes “The Ten Commandments of Mail Art,” “The Seven Sins of Mailing,” and “Seven Suggestions for Shepherding Your Mail Art Safely to Its Destination.” You’ll also find tips on wooing your mail carrier and becoming friends with those who work in the post office.

The bulk of the book isn’t about defining mail art or mail art rules, but about having fun and making mail art. A few pages cover turning everyday objects, such as produce stickers, wrappers, leaves, and bird feathers into mailable mail art. What to do with those old dryer sheets? Mail them! As the authors discovered, they make for durable mail art. The point is that you may creatively make use of whatever you have nearby and whatever you find laying around, like found objects, old catalogs, junk mail, etc.

Ideas for decorating and illustrating envelopes, whether ready-made or those you create yourself, are included in this title, as are other techniques, such as paper-folding, texturing, and creating patterns, as well as stenciling, faux postage and artistamps, refining your handwriting, finding pen pals, and developing your postal personality.

My old friend, Chapter 10, details how to start a mail art project of your own, including writing a call for entry, creating documentation, and developing a correspondence register, which is more involved than keeping a list or address book of mail art contacts because it has more information. For example, a correspondence register might have columns for name, address, what you received, when you received it, what you sent back, when you sent it, and any other tidbits that you’d care to include. Trust, when coordinating a mail art project, which involves sending documentation (i.e. mail art thank yous) to those who send to you, a register is handy!

“You Can Take It with You: The Traveling Mail Art Kit,” is one of my favorite chapters. In the chapter, the authors emphasize that “mail art can happen anywhere, at any time, and in any place.” Think a waiting room that you’re stuck in, when you’re on hold making a phone call, or utilizing public transportation, or some such situation. The idea behind the mail art kit is that it’s possible to make mail art even when time is limited. The “Suggested Items for a Well-stocked Mail Art Kit” list is great, though your kit may contain whatever you like. What’s in my kit varies from time to time, though at minimum it includes stamps, stationary, and a few envelopes.

Peppered throughout the book are mini-interviews with mail artists from around the world, as well as great visuals, with the book ending with a mail art gallery followed by a contributor’s list, further resources, and an envelope template. Interestingly, the authors became friends when getting to know one another through mail art after meeting at a book arts event. Thus, the mail art that they’ve exchanged is a visual account of how their friendship developed—so cool!

So, is Good Mail Day a good primer for aspiring mail artists? Indeed, as it continues to guide me through what started as a one-off mail art project in 2014 and has since turned into an ongoing project for our growing collection. At the time of this writing, we have 300+ pieces of mail art from around the world in our collection and we’re about half-way into our third mail art exhibit, which is accompanied by an active call for entry. Visit us at www.postartlibrary.org to learn more about Post Mail Art Projekt 2021: Show Me Mail Art and check out Hinchcliff and Gilligan Wheeler’s Good Mail Day to learn how to get started.

As always, happy reading. And happy mailing!