The Art in Communication/100 Artist Show will open this evening at the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery.
This year’s 100 Artists theme was inspired by a First Day Cover stamp art collection found by gallery owner Mary Lou Zeek at an estate sale. All of the 1960’s first day of issue postage envelopes were addressed to Dennis Rowley of Snowflake, Arizona, with special artwork printed on the envelopes and an old school font style that only a ribbon-style manual typewriter could produce. This ephemeral collection conjured up ideas of pen pals and hand-written letters… a correspondence style that now seems a rare luxury in this modern day of email and short message texting.
With theme in mind and envelopes in hand, Mary Lou divided the 100 artists into pairs. She assembled a packet of instructions along with an envelope from Rowley’s collection for each artist. The artists were given the name of their correspondence partner and asked to use the blank sheet of paper included in a Rowley envelope to create a correspondence piece to mail to their assigned art pal. The message could be a letter, a poem, a drawing. Whatever the artist chose to do was fine as long as it was done by hand.
But the instructions didn’t end there. After creating their correspondence, artists were asked to mail it along with the Rowley envelope to their show partner. In return, their show partner would do the same for them. Then, in creating show artwork artists were asked to use correspondence that arrived in their mailbox as inspiration. To sum it up, artists were given a two-fold assignment this year:
1. Create a hand-written message and send it to the assigned art show pen pal.
2. Then use the correspondence received from their art show pen pal as a catalyst for creating their piece of artwork.
We invite you to spend as much time as you like viewing this show and it’s many layers. The artwork is displayed by names, and correspondence between the two artists is available upon request. We encourage you to become a part of the art of communication by writing down or sketching your thoughts and impressions of a particular piece of correspondence, the artwork created or the idea of communication in general. While visiting the gallery online or in person, we encourage you to “write” to one or more of our artists. Send or give us your letter and we’ll happily pass it along to them. We like the idea of written communication going full circle.
As is the tradition with each February 100 Artists show, proceeds generated from silent auction sales will benefit a worthy project. This year we will use funds to create Art of Communication activity kits for loan to teachers, after school clubs and home school programs, and perhaps even senior centers. Just think of the creative possibilities that an art pen pal activity can provide for all ages and skill levels and the interesting conversations it can provoke! Where would history be without the hand-written correspondence between John and Abigail Adams? Is cursive writing a dead skill that shouldn’t be taught anymore in school? How do you know that what you heard is what I meant? Shared meaning… necessary or possible?