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Best Use of the U.S. Postal System 

Mail Art

Last November, after a call for mail art issued by Japeth Mennes at the height of the anthrax scare, the window of the Telegraph Gallery filled with postmarked items, all of which had made it through the system. One artist sent in a sewn puppet construction. Someone else sent a newspaper clipping about George Bush's heightening of post-office security. One window was covered in illustrated postcards submitted by former Kansas City resident Stephanie Dotson, who stamped each ornately drawn postcard to read either "sort" or "save." Dotson notes that mail art is great because "you know the ladies at the post-office sit in the breakroom and talk about the crazy shit they see." Kansas City is a veritable mail-art hub, with an exchange coordinated by Stephanie Smith taking hold this past summer. Enthusiastic artists separated into groups of about nine people and sent art to the people in their groups; not only did a whole community of people get aesthetic treats in the mail (instead of just the usual bills), but postal workers must have enjoyed those months of crisscrossing mysteries such as fabric sewn to works on paper, certificates of constellation purchase and Beatles-inspired erotica. Now that e-mail has all but eliminated the need to use the postal system to communicate actual information, it's great that some people are finding new, less tedious uses for snail mail.

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