Mail-Interview with John Evans - USA
Started on 11-6-1996
RJ : Welcome to this mail-interview. First let me ask you the traditional question. When did you get involved in the mail-art network?
Reply on 16-1-1997
(John Evan's answer was written on a paper filled with color-tests with ink he made before).
JE : Dear Ruud Janssen. Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed for your project. Sorry that I have been slow in responding. The pile of mail on my desk simply seems to keep growing. I need a secretary - ah wouldn't that be great.
Happy 1997. When is your birthday? As to your question - When did I get involved in Mail/Male Art?
Well it was in 1964 - 33 years ago. WOW! I remember it vividly - I was @ a party on West 10th Street in "the " Village @ HarveySpevaks. It was a hot summer afternoon, and there were these 2 men there - Ray Johnson + Albert Fine who were fascinated by this rather crude tattoo of a knife on my left arm (I got it while in Highschool in Redondo Beach, California). I had no idea who they were, but Ray went off somewhere, and then reappeared on the roof where the party had moved, with a drawing of a knife, which could be a penis - it said "knife" and was signed Ray Johnson. It hangs above this desk. After that I began getting correspondance of the "please add to and send to" variety from both him + Albert. Have really met so many people through this encounter that I lose track - it changed my life, and I am eternally grateful to all concerned. Since Ray died I have been a bit slow in getting to my correspondancing, on + I do try. Do hope this is what you want. Best of love, luck + laughs, @
ps. What ever happened to Sonja van der Burg of Afzet? She always spoke highly of you.
RJ : Dear John Evans, In connection to your questions to me: My birthday is July 29th. What happened to Sonja? She moved to a new address and sent nobody this new address. A way to stop with mail art, and as far as I know she moved to other ways to express herself. I did get her new address from Mark Bloch one year ago, but the letter I sent to her was never replied.
But in this interview I would like to focus on what you have done and experienced in these 33 years. A long time indead. Are you still in contact with most of the mail artists from the 60's and 70's you encountered then?
(Together with my answer I sent John some info's of my latest activities)
next answer on 3-3-1997
JE : Thanks for the package postmarked 22 January. Like the strange creature that you painted on the envelope. Also the account of your trip to San Francisco was a joy to read. It is a great city. Next trip you must come to Daciddy - Nieuw Amsterdam, which is an even greater city. There are a number of mail artists here, but we are not very organized.
As to your question abot being in contact with the mail artists from the 60's & the 70's , many of them have died, or dropped out of the circuit. Those who have died that I know of being Cavellini, Ray Johnson, May Wilson, Pauline Smith, Harvey Spevak, Albert Fine, Mike Belt, Rob Cobugio, Brian Buogac and perhaps Falves Silva of Brasil. There are many who I am still in touch with from that time - Ed Plunkett, Buster Cleveland, Ed Higgins, Mark Bloch, Bill gaglione, Tim Mancusi, Pat Tavenner, Anna Banana, Les Barbot, Carlo Pittore, Walt Evans, Michael Leigh, Art Naphro, Bill Dobbs, Les Oisteame, Geff Hendricks, Sur Rodney Sur, Wally Darnell, Philip van Aver, Jim Klein. There must be others who I am forgetting, but @ my advanced age it is to be expected. Actually as I wrote the above three of my favorites come to mind - Richard C. + Blaster (Al Ackerman) + Wilson.
It is getting late and I must get to bed as I get up @ 5 AM so that I can go to my part time job as a "horticultural technicien". This helps pay the rent, and is only 3 days a week so it is bearable. It entails watering + caring for plants in these Manhattan Towers - a strange, but wonderful garden.
Hope all is well for you. Love, Luck + Laughts @ *
(* this is a lowercase E with a dot, not a symbol for at (@) - my signature)
RJ : The problem is that the computer has problems with "lowercase E with a dot", but then again, it is a machine and not human. This interview seems to get more of a letter-exchange then a set of questions and answers, but I don't mind. Yes, I know that New York is an interesting place to visit. It is on my list of wishes, so who knows what happens.
You mention a lot of mail artists of the beginning period. Are there also newcomers to the mail art network that write to you?
next answer on 28-8-1997
(with his answer John Evans sent me two xeroxes.One xerox was about his upcoming exhibition Invitational '97 - September 10 - October 4. The other copy of a page in the New York Times, about America Off-line; the effects of the e-mail and the explenation that there still is MAIL. His interview-answer was written on a cut-open envelope from Magret A kane with color stains of paint on it).
JE : Thanks for your last missive of which there is no date that I find legible. Your letter actually accompanied me to Redondo Beach, California, where I thought I might have a bit of time to do some Mail art.
Had to go attend my mother's funeral, but did not have any time to do much but deal with family matters. My mother, Alice Sauers Evans , lived to be 91 and had been sick, so her death was expected, but it is always hard to lose one so close. Things went smoothly though.
As I look over the copy of my letter to you I see some blatent omissions from my list. Guy Bleus, who I simple love, being the most outstandingly missed.
Your question, regarding newcomers - there do not seem to be any with the exception of yourself who has been around for awhile, that I am now correspondancing with. C'est la vie.
RJ : You like to work a lot with paper, ink and water-colors, all those things done by hand. What do you think of the things that are produced by computers?
(In March 1998 I heard from Roy Arenella that he met with John Evans at the opening of his new exhibition - Collages & Paintings , 1968-98. I decided to send the last question to John Evans again just in case he lost it. Quite soon after that I got the next answer and als a photo/card in it that Roy sent to John with a portrait photo he made of him).
reply on 11-04-1998
JE : What do I think about computer art? Well I find it to be a valid form of Art. More so than so called "performance" or "Video". Guess I do not like things that make one vegetate. I barely watch videos or TV @ home. Why should I have to go to a gallery or a museum. Some performance art has been really quite wonderful, but I prefer "the" theatre. Computers are like cameras in a way and I love photographs preferably old ones from the 19th century. Can one believe the time? WOW. End of 20th. Strange weather we have been having. Very warm. Have been getting collages from a couple of college students in Brasil. Interesting!
RJ : What makes a collage interesting to you?
(there was a lang pause between the sending of the question and the receiving of the answer. Just before the summer, which I spent in Germany and Greece, I sent John Evans a copy of the last question)
next answer on 19-11-1998
(with John Evans's answer he sent two cards of invitations to exhibitions. One of Collages by Vince Grimaldi - "Man and his world" , and the other one "And I Quote" (dedicated to Buster Cleveland 1943-1998) with also work by John Evans in it. "A very good show!" , John writes on this last card. Something I knew since another person I interview (Roy Arenella) sent a very wonderful review about John's part in the exhibition)
JE : Dear Ruud, Cannot believe that I am finally getting around to answer your question and the pack of things which you last Zent. Do hope that you got to Germany + to Greece.
My daughter India is now in Perugia - Italia. She seems to be loving it. Who wouldn't @ 20, and studing art. In the next term she will be in Firenze. Lucky.
As to your new question - on the verso. "What makes a collage interesting to me?" - I really love to look @ all different kinds of collage and all art in general. It is always fascinating how a person handles the different elements which go into the making of a work. As Gertrude Stein said: "Everything is the same on lt different" and vive la difference. Love, Luck Laughts @
RJ : You seem to like Frensh language a lot. Any specific reason for that?
(the interview never got finished)
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