Post-Pop by Jon Foster (Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA)

Jon - 9.23.2014 - 1

Mail-art by IUOMA member Jon Foster (Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA)

September 23, 2014 - Most likely due to Ray Johnson’s influence, mail-art has always been a supportive place for Popart and Popart-influenced work, even during periods when the impulse has waned in the mainstream artworld. Indeed, the amazing outpouring of pop-oriented material in the network indicates the genre is inexhaustible in terms of subject matter as well as concepts. Mail-art, arguably, has produced its own enduring form of Popart (not strictly by the art history book definitions but a variant).

Innovations are constantly appearing, and I consider Jon Foster one of the great current pop-oriented masters in the network at this time: His talent seems boundless, and he clearly has done his homework (via Ray Johnson and Richard Canard especially). So I am thrilled to have received this iconic, retro piece that uses his famed ripped tape technique.

Jon’s particular post-Pop aesthetic transgresses the flat (some say vacant) one-dimensional planes of original Popart; it’s self-reflective, meditative and sometimes anti-realist, not merely a re-working of old conventions. Jon Foster has a great eye and is an image-scholar, gathering and juxtaposing material (language included) across phases of cultural history. This current work has it all: nods to pulp noir, fashion, advertising and commodification as well as a reminder of the deeper strains of misogyny in USA culture.

Jon - 9.23.2014 - 2

This is already a favorite piece, and I extend many thanks to Jon Foster for sending!

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Comment by De Villo Sloan on September 28, 2014 at 12:37pm

Jon, thanks for taking the time to write the narrative and reflections. I think you contribute a lot to an already great discussion!

Comment by jon foster on September 26, 2014 at 5:49pm

Hello, hello. Thank you so much for the kind words about my card. I’m always appreciative and super happy whenever someone seems to enjoy one of these creations. To be honest, when I put a stamp on it and send it out into the world, you never know if someone is going to get it, let alone enjoy it.

First off, Johnson is the man for me. My initial foray into mail-art came when I saw How to Draw a Bunny. There’s no rhyme or reason why I decided to watch the movie, I simply did. My first attempt at mail-art was…non-existent. I saw the movie and immediately said to myself, “I want to do this.” At the time I think a version of IUOMA was online, but not in the same shape that it is now. There was a web presence I believe? I signed up for the service and received a few cards without reciprocating. I feel terrible about this. I need to dig these cards up and send those people a message about how sorry I am. Whenever someone declines to return my mail, I feel I’m paying for my past sins.

Some time goes by, I watch the movie again and once again, I have a flash of inspiration. This time when I go looking for the network, IUOMA is at its current address.  To my best ability, which is devoid of any art instruction either in creating on history, I make a few cards. I send these cards out and start to build an address book. At this point I’ve filled two whole notebooks with address and receipts to shows.

One of the first people I receive a postcard from is Richard Canard. Over time I began to follow his lead in sending and receiving, mostly as a way to build a personality through the mail. Not only is the creation a strange reflection of the creator, but the manner in which it is received counts. Rinse and repeat, create and send, whether Richard knows he was a guide for me or not I have no idea, but he was and I thank him for it. Also, he grew up just miles away from where I did so that helps to solidify my connection to him. At this point I’ve received over forty cards from the man.

I don’t know if any of this responds to the conversation, but I’m sitting at a computer waiting for my students to ask me questions about their literature homework. I’ll keep going. There’s fifteen more minutes left in our “library time.”

I’ll work through some of the ideas posted above.

I’ve always loved pop-art; it seems to have a sense of humor in its often emotionless content. Mixing this with a sense of consumerism and “silly” leftist values filtered through a punk rock lens, and maybe there’s something there? Maybe I just like the images? Maybe older paper is simply easier to rip than newer magazines? All of these things are true. I also like the dull matte of 1960’s paper…no high gloss, and the magazines are a lot larger than ours today-more canvas to rip from! I guess you could say my focus comes from both practicality as well as aesthetic. I spent many hours helping my dad cut down free wood to help heat our house, so maybe there’s something to that?

Honestly, I don’t think I’m all that good at what I do. I think that I’ve done good things but I also think I’m limited in my approach. My lack of “art vocabulary” is part of this problem. Currently I’m trying to fix this by incorporating more techniques into my work. I’m blatantly copying people as well as looking at collage books for new techniques. Hopefully some of this will help to make a more colorful and dynamic postcard? After over three years of consistently making these things, I feel I have another four or five before I have the ability to truly impress. This isn’t a competition except with myself.

I’m fascinated with personalities more than I am with gender. I’ve spent a lifetime reading about weirdoes who’ve created things, these are the people that guide me, whether they’re Ian MacKaye, Ralph Ellison, Carina Granlund, John Vanderslice, Ray Johnson, or Flannery O’Connor…I like personalities. I used to buy hobos beers for their stories outside of a sketchy bar in Wilmington North Carolina. The next day I’d try and write them down as best I could, that’s what I like. Seeing a good face and then a good story, that’s perfect.

Alright, my time in the library is up. Sorry for the painfully long response.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on September 24, 2014 at 12:56am

Great to see your comment, Richard. And thanks for the work you sent during my absence, BTW.

You know I'm not content to just post the image & write: "Jon Foster sent me this wonderful mail-art." You know I'm always asking, Why is it so good? What does it mean? Rebecca, Val & I all seem agreed Jon's piece focuses on gender in some way.

I know Jon is very interested in Ray Johnson. Jon is also one of the few IUOMA members who has actually met you, Richard. I believe these influences impact Jon's work. They have to.

And, Richard, I think by now you would have guessed my deconstructive view of you & your art. Yes, you use the tools of the trade like the rest of us; but as the result of your individuality & your own particular relationship to history, you've developed very refined art practices.

I don't think it's anything you do consciously. You're a fine correspondent & correspondence artist. I contend what you do is extremely complex & the simplicity is achieved through artifice. You know better than I do that Ray Johnson's brand of mail-art is conceptual art & good conceptual art is deeply abstract & deeply intellectual. Anyone drawn to it has a certain kind of mind. The same holds true for you. Your interest in RJ surely resulted from commonality: seeing the world in the same way. And I'm going out on a limb here to suggest that Jon is also drawn in this direction.

Sure, most of the several thousand people here at the IUOMA are essentially making collage. But the results are amazingly diverse!

I hope this provides some plausible response to your comment. Again, wonderful to hear from you.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on September 23, 2014 at 11:23pm

Hi Rebecca, you & I seem to see the same things in Jon's piece: the post-WW II Era white male supremacy, "Madison Ave." capitalism. For my rant, I even thought about framing some sort of post-feminist pop idea but obviously didn't do it. Jon's image selection is just, for me, so on target for the piece.

Receiving this provided an occasion for me to rant about pop, although maybe others would say Jon uses kitsch, vintage or other approaches. He finds great collage material with a wide historical & aesthetic range. I can't help but see "Old School" influences used in new ways.

Comment by Richard Canard on September 23, 2014 at 11:17pm

23.09.14 Dare Mister De Villo Sloan, Always a treat to seen what Jon F. & Sir Valentine are up to....certainly don't know what I might have to do with it. ...I  just utilize second-hand  cardboard & cut up old magazines like thousands of other artists have done for nearly a century now. All best to you . Richard   

Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on September 23, 2014 at 10:27pm

From another great socially and artistically conscious Pop Mail Artist (or Mail Pop Artist): "Sex After Socialism"

And yet another: "Ike's e pluribus annum"

Looking forward to DvS's interpretation of them....

Comment by Rebecca Guyver on September 23, 2014 at 8:59pm

It makes you want to time travel, well maybe if you're a guy, anyway.  I would have made a terrible 50s/60s woman.

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