Friday, April 29, 2016

Met Richard Canard and all I Got Was an Amazing Experience!! AND a T-shirt!! PART III

Here are the 'poems' I took from the Take a Poem, Leave a Poem wall. I found the paint chip somewhere between Carbondale and Illusion.

Many have asked where RC makes his elevated fortune cookie wisdom cards and other genius? ( I always thought it would be so cool to be a professional fortune cookie writer). He makes mail art magic with a "C" right at this same kitchen table. The video doesn't want to work but trust me, it is genius.

LP  is a warehouse of fascinating information given that she is in the medical field.  She shared the mind bending fact over (or after ) dinner that, "Viruses are not alive." 

Viruses can take down human beings and yet they are not even living things. hmmm.  And we think we are the most glorious creation on the planet? I guess the virus and the cockroaches rule the world. They are more ruthless and resourceful than all of us combined. 

Hopefully our mail art activities have earned us a special place in mail art heaven--never ending rolls of stamps and no need to look up addresses. 

This is how LP is. She interjects comments that make you stop and think, although usually they are things you would rather not think about, but then you are glad you did i.e. "everyone and everything dies". She is like a bubbly, sassy, fun, funny, whacky, mail art making Morticia.

I feel a little more prepared if I ever go on Jeopardy, "I'll take 'Dead Things that Kill" for 500". And she supplied me with  supporting facts and visuals too. She is thorough.


RC has two sons. One of them at least creates art. He challenged his son to create art on different surfaces/objects/materials i.e. lightbulbs, rubber, wood such as this:

Gorgeous hand painted chunk of wood by Son Canard

Note from our sponsors:  
Just a reminder that this GENUINE RC TRASH IS FOR SALE!

Send money, ask questions later. All proceeds go to fund Camp Canard

I then decided it was time to start my hard hitting interview with RC based on the questions submitted online. I don't think he is the kind of person that likes to be put on the spot, but he kindly cooperated after I told him he was fulfilling my fantasy of being a reporter. 

I looked through a bucket of black pens for one to write with. As with all of us, the odds were NOT good of finding one that worked. Most were fine tip. I got lucky after the first few, but like I do at home, for some reason just threw the dead ones back in the box. Apparently RC does the same. Maybe we think they are just being moody and will come back to life another day.

We learned that RC's Mother put him in tap dancing as a child. He went to a military academy where he played football, a "stupid game" he called it, and eventually went to school for art.

In a world before identity theft, their student number was their social security number. He called East Tennessee State University "Hairy High School", which I believe meant that it wasn't a a great school. I wonder why RC had "No Activity Privileges"? I would so love to have had that stamp. 

Maybe this is what started his love of pontificating with paper and pen. And does it need to be said how incredibly good looking of a man he is? He is the utmost gentleman. I did not hear him swear one single time and believe he is quite conservative personally, but then again, I would imagine he was quite the ladies' man. Only RC knows. 

He said this was his version of selfies-fun with photo booths and I adore the idea. John Evans also used a lot of photo booth selfies in his work.

 Please don't ever draw this bunny

The one with the mask is terrifying.

First Off I asked him how he got into mail art. He said he read an article in the New York Times about this artist that had an open call to correspond with him via letters. RC was very into writing letters so sent to him. He figured he was a nobody, so was surprised when this accomplished artist wrote him back. He said RJ included a list of other people for RC to mail to.

This began the eternal network and from what I hear, many of our beloved mail artists were part of this i.e. Picasso Gaglione.  Their friendship grew and led into our first question:

"How did you get into making fake RJs?" 

He said someone (sorry don't know specific names maybe he can clue me in) said that all of them were just making RJ fakes. Thus RC was inspired to make this true literally. He copied his style of using weathered cardboard and I think did a damn good job.

 He even has a stamp that says "Fake Ray Johnson"

This is a series of rat traps with envelopes tucked under skeletons arms. Mail Art for life or a slave to the need to make mail art was his point I believe. He gave me one of these and everything RC gives away, he personalizes like someone at a book signing. It is beautiful.

I made this necklace out of the bones RC gave me.

RC brought out box after box while LP and I were high on mail art crack. This is why we stayed until 2am and there was STILL more to see. His rubber stamp collection was incredible. Many were originals he had made. Another box were stamps all related to christianity, an interest of his. He let me have a jesus one that is a near-perfect of Trashpo Jesus.

This particular box contained T-shirts he had either made or were sent to him.
He gave Mason this one.
He got one from Ray Johnson and told us that there were only 2 in existence. But I can't remember what that one was!  I DO remember that many were visual depictions of his punny sense of humor. They were mash-ups of Cartoon characters with heads and bodies exquisite corpsed (Donald Duck head on Mickey Mouses' Body).  He had a classic Farrah Faucett picture (feathered hair, pre-mud roll) with the word "Rocky" on it. 

We moved into the living room after our successful feed the Richard event in which the only casuality was a dish towel that I accidentally lit on fire. He said he hadn't eaten like that in forever. His kitchen is probably still remaining a ghost town as he goes to his sisters' house to eat when he doesn't eat out or use the microwave.

The living room was very dimly lit. He keeps it looking very cave-like. I half expected bats to fly out, but the only thing that flew out was mind blowing collections from his plethora of boxes such as this intriguing one:
 And yes it WAS ful

Because the lighting was bad, the quality of these photos is less than idea, but worth posting.

This is a piece of mail art sent to him by William T. Wiley about him (

John Evans book featuring mail art ephemera sent out by John Bennett that was circulating in the network. His bits ended up in many collages, however, none were shopping lists (John Evans Collages -The Quantuck Lane Press 2004).

 If at first you don't succeed, don't try again.

John Evans Collage that I happen to love because I love black cats.

 A RC piece  "Rabbit Urinating"

 It really bothers me that this photo didn't come out better. This is an original Ray Johnson that RC purchased.

A photo of a young Ray Johnson.

A photo of a young RC

"When I grow up I want to be a mail artist"

RC is from NC and lived just up the street from where I went to high school at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Small world!!

We asked how he came about his mail art moniker Richard Canard. He said there was a whole host of reasons behind it as it developed over time. He said it started when he was a child. When you are first learning to write your name, you always start with your first name. As you progress you usually add one letter of your last name i.e. Richard C. 

In the introduction of John Evans' book, Robert M. Murdock writes:
"Mail artist Richard C. (Richard Craven), a friend of Evans, organized a show at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, in 1976, for which one hundred individuals who had received Ray Johnson's mailings, Evans among them, lent works for exhibition...Evans frequently stamps his collages with names and slogans....he favors a rubber stamp reading "Canardada" that someone gave him, alluding at once to a duck (in French, canard), to "canard" in the sense of a false story, to Dada, and to the Canadian mail art group Canadada. This kind of layered meaning and verbal/visual punning is a characteristic shared by Evans, Ray Johnson, Buster Cleveland, and other collage and mail artists. "

RC keeps a binder called his Trash Book. It contains his collection of daily trash finds. He is particularly likely to save things like candy wrappers, stickers, cigarette boxes, and other packaging of course.

 I have NO idea what the thing on the left is. It is either one of those electrode things or a pasty. Do I want to know? No. I mean Yes. LP would know what it is. Particularly if it is bloody.

 I really liked this quote from one of his many books.

 This is an envelope sent to him from Ray Johnson. What is inside?

A nasty pink wig that Ray Johnson had worn then shipped off to tobacco town.

We all have the problem of what to do with all the mounds of mail art we have received over the years. Ray Johnson's solution was to make it mail art. He sent RC this box packed with mail art he had received. I sooooo covet this Brillo Box.

This concludes PART VI


Jake Diamond said...

Quite a piece of "man candy" when he was at University. (Sigh!)

Diane Keys said...

yup! I'd be dropping my handkerchief when he walked by