Thursday, June 23, 2011

Presnelty

I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up the July issue of Velo News because there's an article on women's bikes. Took a peek at the racks to see what else was in there. An Italian Vogue special issue. n+1. Ceramics something or other, or maybe just plain Ceramics. A little magazine all about the wonderful world of meat. And Esopus, which I hadn't picked up for quite some time.

From Ray Johnson's November 30, 1988, letter to Robert Warner, as shown in Esopus' Spring 2011 issue:

I have the luxury of having a complete North Shore Estate, presnelty the Police Academy as my private walking place.

Because it's Ray Johnson and not, say, Robert McFadden, I wondered if perhaps the error had been committed on purpose. Was snelty a word? Could something be pre-snelty? What could that possibly mean?

Was I doing what many have before me--looking more deeply into Ray Johnson's work than is merited? Some think he was a real and Authentic artist; some think he was merely pretentious.

I wanted presnelty not to be a typo, even as I knew it was a (mid-level) typo. I wanted snelty to be a word. It's not. (Snelly is.)

A man I know used to have a coconut (maybe he still does) that a friend had sent him via mail.

The coconut sender, mail artists, users of the WASTE system, teachers who bring their students on field trips to the Post Office: I can't help but admire their connection to one of my favorite transportation systems.

Do I really really hold Ray Johnson's art in the highest esteem? Certainly I like his art, but what I almost love is his relationship with the U.S. Postal Service. I like the idea of an artist working with an institution this way. It somehow hooks up with the kind of ephemeral art Jim Devevan makes, though at the moment I'm not entirely sure how.

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