Monday, May 28, 2007


MAIL ART IS APPARENTLY becoming popular again. I have received several envelopes of stuff in the post in the past few months. This moved me to dig out a mail art piece Steve Poleskie did sometime in 1982. The image has been on the Internet for many years. It was done for a project called Budda Ray University, which was a collaboration between Ray Johnson, the quintessential "mail artist" and Artpool, a group from Budapest, Hungary. You can get the history of this project, at

The face and nose in the drawing was supplied by Ray Johnson, and mailed to various artists, who added their own elements to complete the piece, and then mailed it back to Artpool who put some of them on their web site, then an early adventure, and also made an exhibition that was shown in many European cities.



Steve Poleskie, mail art collage with Ray Johnson, ca. 1982

This small piece came to life again in 2003 when it was used by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as part of their Wright Brothers Centennial celebration. It accompanied an interview Poleskie did in which he talked about his Aerial Theater performances. This image was not his choice, however, the producers found it on the web, and it was large, bright, easy to swipe, and not copyrighted. It was put on the CBC web site, along with the audio. The program was also picked up by the BBC in England, and so had considerable world-wide exposure. This was in marked contrast to the artist's experience here in the U.S. A., where although numerous exhibitions, and books, were put together honoring the Wright Brothers, none of the organizers saw fit to include him, despite Poleskie having worked in the sky for thirty years. An especially dreary exhibition, with a massive catalog, was put together by the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Wright's First Flight was in North Carolina, in which b-list artists from New York City, Los Angles, and for some strange reason Australia, whose main connection with flight seemed to be riding on an airliner now and then, showed work that looked like they were responding to an art class project about "flying." Nor did the North Carolina Museum of Art bother to show the work of Otto Piene or Leila Daw or any of the other artists who worked in the sky for many years, and who regularly participated in the "Sky Art Conferences" arranged by MIT, in places like Boston and Munich. 

And what became of Ray Johnson? On January 13,1995, the artist performed his final "Nothing," jumping off a bridge into the freezing waters near Sag Harbour, New York. 



Thank you for logging on. You can read more about Poleskie's Aerial Theater pieces in his blog, available through the listing in the sidebar. If you have anything you would like to add you can post a comment below, or contact me, Sidney Grayling, at



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