Receipt of Delivery: Patricia Tavenner – Mail Queen

November 30, 2012  |  By

Receipt of Delivery is a weekly series featuring Bay Area exhibition mailers selected from the SFMOMA Research Library’s collection of artists’ ephemera.

Today let us bow to the Mail Queen, aka Patricia Tavenner,and her long reign as a contributor to and curator within the global network of mail art and artists’ stamps. The Oakland-based artist adopted this nom de plume around the time that she began teaching courses on the “hidden” history of women artists. In 1972 she cofounded the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art and participated in a number of museum protests along with fellow feminist activists like Jo Hanson (one of the postcard recipients below). Associated with Bay Area Dada, a number of whom are pictured below, Tavenner self-published the newspaper Mail Order Art (1971–72) and artists’ books under the Eternal Press.


Patricia Tavenner, 1973, postcard; 5 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (13.97 cm x 8.89 cm)

Patricia Tavenner, _DECCA DANCE AFTER IMAGE_, 1974; postcard; 5 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (13.97 cm x 8.89 cm); pictured: Irene Dogmatic, Opal L. Nations, Dr. Brute, Pat Tavenner, Rick Ross; sent to Jo Hanson.

Patricia Tavenner, _The Royal Tour-Fluxus East Visits The Eternal City_, 1974; postcard; 3 1/2 in. x 5 1/2 in. (8.89 cm x 13.97 cm); left to right: Bill Gaglione, Opal L. Nations, Monte Cazazza, Pat Tavenner, Tjeerd Deelstra, Irene Dogmatic, Anna Banana. Sent to Jo Hanson.

Patricia Tavenner, 1975 card; 4 1/4 in. x 5 3/4 in. (10.8 cm x 14.61 cm)

Patricia Tavenner, postcard from the ongoing series _Change of address requested_ (verso), 1978;  5 in. x 7 in. (12.7 cm x 17.78 cm)

Patricia Tavenner, 1973; Mylar, coupon booklet, stamp, label; overall approx. 3 1/4 in. x 6 in. (8.26 cm x 15.24 cm)

Patricia Tavenner, 1973; typed text on payroll deduction cards, stamp, label; 3 1/4 in. x 7 1/2 in. (8.26 cm x 19.05 cm) [click to enlarge]

Patricia Tavenner, 1972; three postcards with stapled cyanotype-print labels; each: 3 1/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (8.26 cm x 13.97 cm)

Patricia Tavenner – The Eternal Press, _Four Years and More_ order form, 1979; 8 1/2 in. x 14 in. (21.59 cm x 35.56 cm) [click to enlarge]

Patricia Tavenner, two holiday postcards, 1974 and 1977; each: 5 1/2 in. x 3 1/2 in. (13.97 cm x 8.89 cm)

The Eternal Press, 1984; rubber stamp on glossy card; 1 1/2 in. x 9 in. (3.81 cm x 22.86 cm)

“Mail Art is anything that comes through the mail and is named by the sender as art. It is the most democratic of art movements. Anyone can do it, anyone can become involved, and every product is considered creative.” — Patricia Tavenner

9 Comments

  1. Alberta Mayo Says:

    Thank you, Tanya for these wonderful finds. Patricia’s work from the 1970s and 1980s is still fresh and full of energy. Let’s keep mail art alive!

  2. Pamela Gerard Says:

    I agree — Patricia’s mail art is wonderful and fresh as ever.I’d love to see more. And i (along with others) am keeping mail art alive.

  3. eleanor hanson wise Says:

    Do you know more about living letters? I like the sounds of that.

  4. Monique Walpole Says:

    Patricia Tavenner’s art is so unique and beautiful. Every single one of her cards is different. Each card looks like they have true meaning or a story to them; it’s not just a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. I love that Patricia Tavenner believes “Mail Art is anything that comes through the mail and is named by the sender as art. It is the most democratic of art movements. Anyone can do it, anyone can become involved, and every product is considered creative.” Anyone who is anyone can participate and try this form of art. We don’t have to be a well-known artist to showcase our art or to even consider our work art. Whoever would like to join this movement can and they don’t to follow any elements. We can make it our own and it will be and is art. Now when I send out letters, I have good ideas as to how to make them a lot more personable. I truly enjoy Ms. Tavenner’s work and great designs for both cards and stamps.

  5. Mike Palmer Says:

    I wish to let Patricia’s friends know that the Mail Queen passed away yesterday morning (5/10/2013) in Oakland California. We know her art will continue to live on.

  6. Robert Rudine AKA Dogfish Says:

    Long Live the Queen! The Queen is dead! Patricia was a friend. Jas Felter and I had just put her Artistamp work into a frame at the Museum of Artistamps in Tui Tui back in October of last year. I called Patricia to invite her to attend the MOA opening on November 11, 2012. She said she would try to come. She didn’t. I knew from Anna Banana that she was very ill. Very sorry to have missed a last chance of her company. I will drape her frame at MOA in black and gold crepe tomorrow. She was a pioneering artist who set her own terms in life and art. Long Live the Queen!
    Dogfish

  7. C. Mehrl Bennett Says:

    I am happy that Patricia was celebrated in this article BEFORE she passed away, and so hopefully she appreciated the overdue attention. See a video taken in Hungary of famous artistamp creators, including the mailart queen, signing and stamping some catalogues of the show at Artpool Art Research Center, a day after the ParaStamp Extra event (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. 26 April 2007)

  8. C. Mehrl Bennett Says:

    http://youtu.be/LRu3oEHP9JA is the YouTube link referenced above!

  9. terryreid Says:

    I have visited this site which has become a memorial a number of times. The comments are true – so much of Pat Tavenner’s work, so much done so long ago, is fresh! is re-freshing!

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