This Friday, June 26, guests won’t need passports to gain entry into the exhibition, which takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the gallery’s North Fifth Avenue location. In fact, many of the pieces Huber received are from Wilmington artists, including a few of her fellow Acme colleagues.
For sculptor Karen Crouch, that meant leaving her Acme studio, paying a visit to the post office, and then mailing her finished piece to Huber back at Acme. Huber even mailed a few of her own works to herself.
That’s the way it works with mail art. The movement, popularized in the1950s and ‘60s, developed into a global initiative. It was influenced by American artist Ray Johnson, who dubbed the crusade the New York Correspondence School. Huber became heavily integrated into the mail art scene in the ‘70s and has her work archived in Budapest from one of Johnson’s shows, which was held there.
Locally, Dennis Walsak helped give mail art momentum in Wilmington and hosted what was likely one of the city’s first correspondence art shows in the early ‘80s. Huber had no trouble convincing him to help out again with the upcoming exhibition. In addition to promoting the show, Walsak plans to shoot a catalog to archive it—and there’s a lot to photograph.
According to Huber, she received more than 200 works as of June 19—one day before the final deadline for submissions. Most commonly, mail art consists of postcards, photographs, collage pieces, and small paintings, but Huber also acquired several unusual objects.
“I received a beautiful piece from Poland, made of unglazed porcelain tile,” Huber says. “Wilmington artist Nicolle X Nicolle even sent a shoe. It’s fully painted with little quotes from ‘Mad Men’ all over it. What I loved is that the address is on the sole and the return address on heel, with postage stuck on the outside of the shoe. I’d imagine she had to pull some strings to get that one to happen.”
The pieces arrived in packages big and small, but according to Huber most fit into standard envelopes. For several of the pieces, the packaging was part of the presentation.
“Each piece will be hung on clips so you can flip them over,” Huber says. “If the envelope is artistic, it will be shown alongside the piece it was used to mail.”
To get a closer look, Huber recommends engaging the work: touching them and turning them. “This is different from most shows, in that we encourage visitors to handle the art,” Huber explains. “That’s the best way to inspect the different aspects of the pieces, some of which have very intricate details.”
One of the smaller works include Huber’s popular handmade paper. The piece features a collage with graphite rubbings of a poem about a broken heart from an American Zen poetry book titled, “Sandy Says, ‘Ouch!’” the piece repeatedly reads over ghost images of hearts bleeding color.
At the completion of the show, Huber says the work will be archived by either UNCW or Acme. “After losing so many of my archives to Hurricane Fran, it makes me feel good to finally see new pieces arriving every day in my mailbox,” says Huber, whose spiritedness wholly aligns with the avant-garde essence of the mail art movement.
“Anything goes as long as it came through mail,” she says. “And as long as it came through the mail, it’s accepted. And if it’s accepted, it’s in the show.”
If It Fits, Mail It
Acme Art Studios
711 N 5th Ave.
Opens: Fri., June 26, 6-9 p.m.
Closes July 17