Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ikuta Shrine in Kobe

My mother sent this retro postcard for Christmas. The Ikuta shrine is located in downtown Kobe and is still active today. The city has grown up all around it and no rickshaws are in sight, even for touristic purposes. The big mountain looming in the background must be Mt. Maya. It is considered one of the oldest shrines in Japan. Love the hand-coloring of this reproduction postcard. 

Christmas Tree

A simple embossed card from friend Geoffrey. Made by Austin Press at Hunter's Point. I must go check them out sometime.

Gollum Maxi Card - Altered

A fabulous maxi card from a New Zealand postcrosser. She added a messy mop of hair on top of Gollum's head. Actually he looks like a surfer dude with that hair. 

Christmas Beauty

Here's a lovely winter card from a postcrosser in Belarus. She illustrated the back of the card with floral decorations. The front is my favorite kind of card - lots of glittery snowflakes and snow-covered trees. I don't know why I love glitter so much. It is such a magical element, particularly in the winter. 


A fabulous Soviet-era anti-drinking postcard from a Russian postcrosser. I can't imagine anyone saying "no" to Stoly, however. Even I drank a glass or two when I visited Vladivostok back in 1999. I loved my trip to the Russia Far East. riding the overnight train to Khabarovsk and driving along vast stretches of highway with nothing but snow and pines.   

Red and White

An elegant Christmas card from Audrey. I got together with her and several other writer friends for a fun tapas dinner a few weeks before Christmas. This group has kept together for many years now over a play or simply a fun meal somewhere. We met at a writers' circle but few of us are still writing fiction. However, this is a great group to get reading lists of interesting novels.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Handmade Christmas Cards 2014

Susan quilted a vintage, repurposed Christmas card. Note the use of photo corners - something that seems to have disappeared along with photo albums.

Irma painted the remaining FIPs partners with knitting in the background.

Tanya created a lovely abstract card that incorporated staples.

Yuriko used silver and gold joss paper, and bits of paper scraps for a festive card.

I promise to get back into creating Christmas cards in 2014! In fact this is part of my New York resolutions. 

Lady Pumpkin

Friend Susan made this lovely Halloween card of seemingly random scraps of paper. I had to rub my fingers over the pumpkin - it looks like fabric. There is actually a ribbon tied on the pumpkin stem. Went to Half Moon Bay and picked out a pumpkin but never had time to carve it. When my niece and nephew visited over Thanksgiving, I did my annual pumpkin toss - a big heave-ho down to the garden from our second floor deck. 

Madonna Open Studios

Work has consumed me. Time has passed and I am just now getting around to posting some interesting cards. Here's an October Open Studio card from Paul Madonna. His pen & ink drawings and stories are quintessentially's a snippet of conversation you might overhear while walking around a San Francisco neighborhood. This one reminds me of the financial district, where I used to work in the 1980's and 90's. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I love this amazing pile of rocks along the ancient coastline of Lauhansarven. Thanks to the Finnish postcrosser who sent it. How did these rocks form? Did a mountain crumble? Mysteries...mysteries...

Thunder Bay Pagoda

The Canadian postcross sprinkled glitter in the area around behind the pagoda and added a couple of stickers. This pagoda has nothing to do with Chinese pagodas. It was built as a tourist attraction for people arriving in town by rail or boat. It is designated as a national historic site.

Humor, Bathroom and Otherwise

Korean character, Jetoy choo choo cat postcard, altered. Card sent by a Dutch postcrosser. I have never heard of Jetoy cats, and this one is really sweet! Interesting assortment of toilet, bidet, towel for bidet, and toilet paper roll.

Altered card from Germany created by kids between 3-8 years old! I especially like the fangs on the girl!

An altered card from Germany. I love the way she traced the lines on the scale on the green background. And the fat lady is a collage! 

Special Delivery

A great mail card from a Dutch postcrosser. I suspect mail-themed postcards like these will disappear soon. If not for postcrossing, there wouldn't be much in the way of interesting mail. Sad that two of my letter-writing friends are no longer here. 

Oakland, My Oakland

My friend Susan sent this marvelous card about Oakland. It is a city much-maligned, but I love going there for their great art, restaurants, baseball, and many other amenities. 

Art for the House

Hospitality House is doing a fundraiser in our gallery next week. This nonprofit provides a daycare art center for the homeless. I've bought many pieces from artists who use their services. I hope we have a great turnout for the fundraiser! 

October 24, 6-10 pm at Arc Gallery, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco

A Gritty View

This card was sent by a Dutch feminist postcrosser who was disgusted by the misogynistic portrayal. She punched holes around the portrait punctuating her disgust at the words on the card, which reads something like "Happy Birthday, you have a great ...age." Thanks for making me laugh, dear postcrosser! 

Shanghai Beauties

A vintage reproduction of Shanghai beauties from a postcrosser in Nanjing. I saw a lot of these retro reproductions when I visited Shanghai way back in 2001. I am glad they're going through their archives and bringing these old designs back.

Marilyn with the Red Dress On

This card is going to a Finnish postcrosser who wanted something erotic or something Marilyn. This card certainly fulfills both wishes.

Rail Themes

This card was purchased in the Grand Canyon when I was traveling around with Jacqueline. I can't remember if it was 2009 or 2010. I think it was 2010. Somehow I had come across the brochure for a Grand Canyon train and we decided to ride it. Alas it was very touristy, with a staged, costumed holdup thrown in for the ticket price. Still, the Grand Canyon was breathtaking and it ended up being the last trip we took together. Sending it off to a postcrosser in Japan who likes vintage trains. 

This is a functioning train in Shikoku, Japan. Named "Botchan Ressha" after Natsume Soseki's famous novel, my mom and I took this little train to Matsuyama. I remember it was quite a trip, starting with the bullet train flying over an incredible stretch of rail over the ocean from the mainland to Shikoku. The card is going to a couple in the Netherlands.

Pleasing Graphics

A USPS postcard of a 1947 stamp depicting the NYC skyline. It is going to an Australian postcrosser who requested a postal-themed card.

This is a favorite, depicting the fleet of vintage streetcars (the F line) that run on Market St and along the Embarcadero. These recycled streetcars from all over the world continue to flourish thanks to a long-ago decision made by then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein to resurrect streetcars while our cablecar rails were being replaced. Even after the cable cars returned, we've continued to run these vintage streetcars, and in fact have increased in number each year. It makes me smile each time I see one of these beautiful cars go by and it is one reason I love living in this city.

A Nancy Drew card to be sent to a mystery-loving postcrosser in Switzerland. For some reason the whole series was available in Japan in the 1950's. Though quite expensive in hardbacks, my mom bought me a couple whenever I needed to be consoled. Example: when I had to get my baby teeth pulled at the dentist's, with no anesthesia.

A hot pink Wonder Woman card for a young Polish postcrosser who loves anything pink. My friend Tanya did a mixed media piece on this Amazonian superheroine. If I remember correctly, the character was modeled after creator William Moulton Marston's wife. She was quite a dominatrix.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Here is a red-walled shrine dedicated to the warrior Koxinga. It was sent by a Taiwanese postcrosser who believes that Taiwan is a great please to learn about Chinese culture. Interestingly, Koxinga was a Chinese military leader born in Hirado, Japan.

Mysterious Room

This postcrosser from the Ukraine recently became a mother and remarked on what a miracle it is to have a child. What a lovely sentiment. I was taken by this mysterious room. The lampshade seems to be made with a bamboo sieve, there's a conch affixed to the wall, a pitcher and cups by the window, a rather scratchy looking coverlet and pillow, and a glimpse of apartments and houses outside the dirty window. I don't know if this is simply a postcard of a humble room or someone's famous abode.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Good Grooming

This Thai card is actually from a Taiwan postcrosser.  A sweet card of  monkeys doing what monkeys like, which is to groom the itchy and scaly stuff off their friends. Monkeys are also associated with Hindu Ramayana stories but this writer went off-topic and talked about the August Ghost Festival. Apparently the gates of Hell opens then and ghosts of all kinds rush out to be amongst the living. The Japanese celebrate the dead in August with Obon, but I don't recall that it had this terrifying element to it. 

Marked, Fringed and Sewn

When a card gets this worked over, it forms its own gravity. I love the markings across the card, which remind me of trails left by motor boats. Also effective are the waves and fringes cut on the edges. The purple thread was interesting touch as well. This is a card from a postcrosser in St. Petersburg. The Vasilyevsky Island, is an island in St Petersburg, bordered by the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva rivers. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mail Queen 1945 - 2013

Patricia Tavenner passed away on May 10, 2013 in Oakland, California. 
In the 1960's, Tavenner moved from Michigan to Northern California and pursued graduate studies at the California College of Arts and Crafts and University of
California, Berkeley. She was an early participant in the formation of the Women's Caucus for Art, organizing pickets with other feminists at museums in the San Francisco Bay Area and helped form the Northern California Women's Caucus for Art in 1972.
Tavenner was a photo silkscreen artist, a member of the Bay Area Dadaist scene and a well-known mail artist. She defined mail art as anything that comes through the mail, a medium that sidesteps the restrictions of traditional art and expands the definition of Artist. As an active member of the counterculture, Tavenner wrote and published a zine called Mail Order Art in the early 70's and taught classes on "the secret history of women artists." She was a long-time instructor of art at UC Berkeley Extension. 

Tavenner discovered artistamps while searching for new media. She found a shop in Philadelphia that could take any image and make a sheet of gummed and perforated photostamps. She was delighted by the beautiful sheet of perforated images. As an artistamp artist she earned the moniker, "Mail Queen." She was involved in a network of artists who traded stamps as children would baseball cards. Her artistamps were exhibited at the Davidson Gallery in Seattle (1989), Sonoma County Museum (2003), Budapest International Artistamp Show (2006)and featured in books about artistamps. 

I took a photo-silkscreening class from Tavenner nearly a decade ago and learned about her involvement in artistamps and mail art through her class. What she did with mail art fascinated me, but she was a little shy about sharing her techniques. Mail art was a radical, fringe art medium in the height of the Fluxus Movement in the 1970's and even today continues to be practiced in an underground fashion. Mail, in general, seems to be a nearly extinct form of communication in this day of emails Facebook, texting and Instagrams. I hope the fringe practiioners continue to nurture the next generation of eccentrics who enjoy sending a beautiful piece of art through the mail. 

For more info, view this YouTube video:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Healthy Bites

Here's a yummy card from Susan. What a lovely grouping of vegetarian sandwiches! We are lucky to live in the Bay Area where there are so many wonderful bakeries and farmer's markets that supply the freshest and tastiest local produce. This week I will make guacamole with the small avocados I picked up at the farmer's market together with tomatillo salsa, cilantro and cotija cheese.  

About John Held

Picked up this postcard from the Exit Theater in the Tenderloin. The Fringe Festival is underway and we went to a short play there called With Held, by playwright and monologist Jeremy Greco. The play is about the life & times of John Held Jr., a mail artist. At first I thought it was a spoof of a sexually promiscuous male artist, but each vignette contained moments of humor and pathos. Afterwards went out for Chinese dinner with Held and several interesting artist friends. The restaurant was noisy and not conducive to much conversation, but I learned that he knew Patricia Tavenner and that he was organizing her collection of mail art. More about Tavenner later...

Here's a YouTube video to watch:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Comix from Lengkuas Island

This Indonesian postcrosser sent this sophomoric humor card from Lengkuas Island. This tiny island is known for its lighthouse and proximity to other islands made of granite. The cartoons reminded me of the old Zap Comix of the 70's. 

Sponge Bob and...?

A Malaysian postcrosser doodled on this card in between a programming lab test. It helped while away her boredom. The character on the left is her favorite superhero. It looks quite a bit like the Green Lantern. Is it though?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Now Forbidden

According to this German postcrosser, this card cannot be sent to anyone in Germany because of the subject matter. 

Vintage Stamps

A lovely collage card of vintage stamps from a Japanese postcrosser. I recall using these stamps as a child and espeically loved the swan image. The deer reminds me of Nara, which is full of them at temples, waiting to be fed cookies. I wonder if the dog is Hachiko, the legendary loyal dog that came to the train station every afternoon to meet its master. 

A Magical Place

A lovely card from a Turkish postcrosser. I imagine this is the Bosphorus with minarets in the distance. This magical view brought back fond memories of my visits to Istanbul, where friends treated me to a lovely ride along the Bosphorus, to delicious seafood, and of course, a glass of ayran. 

Red-Whiskered Bulbul

I received a lovely bird card from an Indian postcrosser. According to Wikipediak, the red-whiskered bulbul has a scolding chatter and is often heard but rarely seen. Interestingly these birds are also found in Florida.

Paws Dialect

A Dutch Postcrossing dog by the name of Disney sent me this cool card of the Little Mermaid. I don't know how Disney discerned that this is my favorite Andersen's story. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Is This My First Maxicard?

I learned from the Postcrossing blog that a maxicard features an image on the card similar to the image on the stamp. Am I to believe that this is one? I can't what this building is that the postcrosser from Logoisk, Belarus sent me. 


An old grey Christmas card transformed by flowers and family photos of this happy Finnish postcrosser.

Glowing Plants

From the Ukraine 

From Germany

Eye of the Beholder

There's a German sense of humor lurking somewhere in these cards.