Dear JULIA & GYORGY
WHAT follows is a little “bumpy”, as I piece together things from previous writings in order to get something to you close to your deadline.
From 1987??? Oh, that’s so you can have a nice even 20 years of history. OK. My recollections certainly go back further than that, but let’s see if I can zero in on what was happeing in my universe, vis a vie artistamps that year. I suppose I need to go back a little earlier just to say I had been working for Ed Varney at his then commercial enterprise, Intermedia Press, where I learned the ins and outs of full colour printing. In 1986, I did my first solo “tour” of Europe, presenting my installation Banana Split, in Copenhagen, then performances and events in Umea, Sweden, Ghent, Den Haag, Eeklo, and London, as well as visiting mail-art friends From Stockholm Hjallerup, Minden, Rosenheim, Trogen, Koln, Wellen, Arnhem, Amsterdam, London and Leeds.
It was my intention at the outset of this tour, to produce a sheet of stamps in each of the cities visited, but unlike the indominable Netmails, I found I hadn’t the energy, or quiet time/space required for such work. However, I collected materials as I travelled, maps being primary, along with used books of imagery that attracted me, and after my return, in 1987, I created a set of 16 European Tour Commemorative Stamp (ETC) sheets. I produced in a limited edition of 15 copies of each sheet, using the then new Canon colour laser copier. Maps formed the backgrounds of these sheets, over which I had collaged the figures and symbols in the sub-sets; Putting Physical Fitness on the Map, Signs & Symbols, and the Unknown Artist. In the following year, the Art Bank section of the Canada Council which rents art to various government agencies in Ottawa, purchased one set of the Euro-Tour Commemoratives. After a year, having found these editions much in demand, the Art Bank purchased a second set, along with newer works I had created in 87 and 88.
Much to my surprise in 2000, an article entitled Art in Office by Johathon Gatehouse, appeared in Canada’s national newspaper, the National Post, Apr. 25. The article was about art rented from Art Bank hanging in offices in Canada’s parliament buildings, the House of Commons. Pictured, in full colour, was my sheet of stamps, “Twenty Years of Fooling Around with anna Banana”. I never did find out who chose the work, but was delighted to learn my work was on display on parliament hill!
To go back to the beginning, I began my exchanges with mail-artists in 1971, after circulating the Banana Rag to friends in Vancouver who responded with the Image Bank Request List. I collaged my first stamp sheets in 1976, using the then color xerox machine for prints to exchange, after seeing the works of Carl Chew and Ed Higgins. I got into stamp making big time in the middle '80's, participating in the exhibitions Felter curated at the Davidson Galleries in Seattle starting in 1989, the exhibit in the Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle, and a three-person show with Ed Varney, Jim Felter and myself in Vancouver in 1992.
My artistamps were also exhibited in “Art Travels”, a Mail Art Festival at the National Postal Museum of Canada, Museum of Civilization, Hull, QC in 1992, “Mail Art; Netzwerk der Künstler” at the PTT Postal Museum, Berl, Switzerland Feb - May 1994, “Timbres d'Artistes” at Musee de la Poste in Paris, the 1997 exhibit “Mail art and Artistamps” at the Chicago Center for the book Arts at Columbia College, a solo exhibit of mine at the Sarenco Art Club in Verona in 1998, “Stamp Art and Artists Stamps” at the Art Institute of Boston in '99/00, and the Motherland/Fatherland/Mosco International Forum at the Movy Manege Exhibit Hall in Moscow.
Canada’s Art Bank, a branch of the Canada Council (equivalent to NEA in the USA) twice puchased several sets of my artistamp editions, which are matted, framed, and rented out to government agencies in the capital, Ottawa. In 2000, the National Post did a two page feature on what art government offices were renting. It featured a full color reproduction of my “Twenty Years of Fooling around with A. Banana” edition, along with artworks by several other artists. After making several enquiries, I found that it had been rented by and displayed in the Liberal party’s caucus room in the national parliament buildings in Ottawa.
In 1988, I began “International Art Post” as a collaborative publishing venture to make high quality printed stamps in useable quantities available to artists. I've continued those editions to this date, having produced some 28 editions over the past 19 years. In 1991, I converted the Banana Rag to Artistamp News (ASN), reflecting my interest in the burgeoning field of postage-like stamps made by artists, ie/ “artistamps”. I published eight, 12-page editions between '91 and 1996. Each issue had a number of actual stamps (4-8/issue) tipped in over the printed versions, and each issue included a profile of one or two prominent artistamp makers with reproductions of their works. There was always a “new editions” section which briefly described sheets of stamps received, with many illustrated in B&W. There was also a section for feedback, where controversial issues were discussed.
All issues of “International Art Post” (IAP) and “Artistamp News” (ASN)are available in a limited edition (49 copies - only 1 left) of the “Artistamp Collector’s Album”. The ACA is a cloth bound, 3-ring binder, with 2-colour silk-screened cover, containing essays by Jas Felter, Dogfish and myself, and all issues of ASN and IAP which are mounted on black sheets, in protective sleeves. Hand assembled over the years, it sells for $450 plus shipping. Back issues of IAP are also available as individual sheets. The machine I use for perforating is a 1915 Rosback rotary pin-hole perforator, hand fed, but powered with an electric motor, which enables me to perforate editions of 1000 to 10,000 sheets.
What follows is a list of some of the “Stamps of the Queendom of Banana”, many of which are now out of print.
- Twenty Years of Fooling with A. Banana - 1990, open edition, (three) Canon laser copies, perhaps 100 prints, as the catalogue for my solo show at the Grunt Gallery, Feb. 19-Mar 3, in Vancouver. The catalogue is an illustrated resume of my various activities in the years 1970-1989, and these same illustrations are in the little book. In the “deluxe edition”, the full colour stamps are tipped in over the B&W pages. This is the sheet of stamps that was rented and displayed in the Liberal Caucus room in the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa... and written up in the article Art in Office, in the National Post in April, 2000.
- Top Banana in the West, #3/36, December 1981 Colour Xerox prints from painted collages.
- Early Statistics, B&W photo copy from the limited edition, January, 1986.
- Woman’s Face/Euro-tour Commemorative, 3 prints, imperf. These stamps were not included in the Euro Tour print run, as I decided I wasn’t keen on them, so they don’t appear in the Euro-Tour Commemorative brochure which is out of print.
- UA (unidentified artist)-2/Euro Tour Commemoratives, The Canada Council Art Bank has twosets of these in their rental collection.
- Inter Dada '84 Commemorative, color xerox print, perforated. Marine signal flags on background map of the SF Bay area.
- Going Bananas/Gone Bananas, canon laser reprint of stamps originally printed by Ed Varney on one of his full colour, photo offset editions.
- San Francisco Banana Triangle, 1988, ink and watercolour, triangle stamps. Open edition of approximately 36 Canon laser prints.
- Shattered Laszlo, #9/12, text reads: “Post banana is not the same as Banana Post” Nov. '89, Canon laser prints from water-coloured collage.
- Saralee Commemorative; “I'll make you some chicken soup” #9/10, 1991 limited edition Canon laser prints.
- Saralee Commemorative; “One Feisty woman” #9/10, 1991, limited edition Canon laser prints.
- Owen Sound for Your Summer Break - partial sheet #30/36. Water-coloured drawings over collage map of Owen Sound, where I fractured my ankle the night before my performance! 1991
- Hen Party Post, open edition of approximately 30 prints, December 1991. Water coloured drawings of myself, my daughter Dana and her step-mum Angela.
- 50 Years-Ans Artistamps, 1941-1991 ten triangle stamps done for the exhibit at the Davidson Galleries that year. Ink and watercolour, open edition of approximately 30 prints.
- Classic Ice Cream/Post Banana, June 1992, woman doing face exercises. Artist proof. Canon laser color print, limited edition of 5.
- Zer’s More Horses Asses in Zee world Zan Zer Iz Horses, limited edition/variations on the sheet that was eventually printed in full colour on an IAP edition. #2/20, Canon laser color print, October 1993.
- Passing the Flame/Ray Johnson commemorative, June '95 #28/30, canon laser print of water-colored collage.
- Stephen Leigh Hall, BBA - commissioned grad portrait, ink & water colour, Canon laser prints, #3/6, May 1996.
- Joki was a colorful Guy edition of 25 prints. Sept. '97
- Ideas are Linked - by Me, Jurgen Olbrich, Buz Blurr, Spring 1985 B&W xerox.
- Triangle stamps - image of speakers over flooring: Dome Tweeters & Squawkers (printing make-ready)
- Parquet Flooring - printing make-ready, perforated as rectangular stamps
FOUND image sheets: