Visual Arts

All Mail Revue

There's no art show more egalitarian than a mail art show. Just make a drawing or painting or collage or mixed-media piece that can be mailed, and you're in the exhibition. There's no curator, no jury process, no commercial concerns, no snobbery.

There are also no standards, which means there's usually some pretty weak art in a mail art show that adheres to the inclusive spirit of the genre. That's why there are some lame pieces in "Roadside Attractions," the mail art show at the Trunk Space on Phoenix's funky Grand Avenue. But there are also some inspired and fun riffs on the show's theme, like Jennifer Weigel's poem about a trip to the Winslow, Arizona, park commemorating the town's mention in the Eagles' 1972 song "Take It Easy." Weigel, of St. Louis, arrives to find the site trash-strewn and fenced off to the public, "a depressing reminder of all the reasons I can't just take it easy."

A linocut by an M. Mays of Springfield, Illinois, captures the liberating informality that is the essence of mail art. Mays' black-and-white print of Abe Lincoln amid cannons and cows is routine; it became great when the artist whacked his creation into six postcard-size pieces and mailed each separately to the gallery. The pieces, battered by their journey through the post, are tacked directly on the wall with plastic thumbtacks. This lack of pretension makes Mays' piece far more powerful than it would have been were it framed, double-matted and shielded by non-glare glass. It's a reminder that art is more powerful when it can be touched and seen by as many people as possible.

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Leanne Potts