Received: Music into mail-art from Austin Wills James (Dallas, Texas, USA)

October 27, 2010 - Most IUOMA members who check the photo galleries and blogs have seen Austin Wills James' distinctive mail-art. Last week, I received this regular post-card size piece that I appreciate greatly. Much of his work that I've seen achieves various expressive and tonal qualities using an overriding base in - I think - watercolor. The address side provides more context for his work:

Austin Will James is inspired by music and seems to have the music cranked when he's creating. He uses song titles often to name his own work. The piece I received is inspired by an entire Grateful Dead album: "AoxomoxoA." If I have it anywhere near right, this is a companion piece to the famed "Workingman's Dead," which many would say marked a creative zenith for that band - with Jerry, Pigpen, Bear, and others - many others would disagree, I'm sure. When I looked it up, what I found interesting is that "AoxomoxoA" and "Workingman's Dead" are a song cycle. I think that's interesting, when you start looking at individual pieces as something larger. So I thought I'd look at not just this but a few of Austin's mail-art pieces for a bigger picture. Yes, it's "Let's raid Austin's IUOMA portfolio" time: The following is "ChinaCatSunflower" (more Dead, yes?). Not unlike the piece I received, except you can see more clearly here one of his tendencies to use geometry. I always have liked "ChinaCatSunflower":
Next is "Sunshine Daydream." Austin really had me pegged with the more gothic tones, but he is often far more bright and sunny:
Thanks so much for your art and your friendship, Austin.

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Comment by De Villo Sloan on October 31, 2010 at 12:32pm
Snooky - I was thrilled to get an AWJ piece too. Lucky for us, there are lots of examples of his work here at the IUOMA. Even dogs like "ChinaCatSunflower."

AWJ - thanks for clarifying further - you are a deadologist for sure. I just think your work's connection to music is fascinating and subconsciously working through the catalog backwards - that is - you hadn't realized it? I really appreciate what you sent - perfect for me.
Comment by Austin Wills James on October 29, 2010 at 12:32pm
You were right about watercolors being the basis for the majority of my images. "Sunshine Daydream" is actually a reprise verse at the end of "Sugar Magnolia" found on 'American Beauty', released in 1970 as a follow-up to 'Workingman's Dead'. Taking this into account, I've subconsciously been working backwards through the band's catalog for inspiration.
-AWJ-

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