As a pioneer in the field of Mail Art, Carlo Pittore has shaped this person-to- person, art for artıs sake, international movement in which original art, often postcard-size, is circulated unwrapped through public postal systems. Through his art works, publications and exhibitions, as well as his campaigns for the rights of artists, Carlo Pittore has spurred the growth of the International Artists Network, the worldwide community that embodies the Mail Art phenomenon.
At the heart of the Mail Art movement is a vision that resonates with many young artists today -- the vision of art exchanged as a gift through a broadly accessible, democratic distribution system, rather than being sold as a commodity or exhibited to exclusive audiences in traditional venues.
In this spirit, Carlo Pittoreıs life and work propose the unlimited potential of an artistıs ability to challenge and expand the traditional categories and audiences of art, to create change within the art world and the world at large, and to counter the dominance of new information technology by reclaiming its use for participatory modes of representation.
While engaged in international networks, Carlo Pittore also has been a dynamic figure in Maine art for 30 years, working to build community among and for independent artists. As founder of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, established in 1975, he fostered what is now the largest statewide association of independent artists in Maine. As the inspirational leader of the Carlo Pittore Academy of Art, he created a center where emerging and established artists have gathered over many years to make art and share community.
For his joy in art and life, for his generosity of spirit, for his advocacy of the independent artist, and for his vision of artists connected through community, we are proud to recognize Carlo Pittore and to award him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts."
"Pushing Envelopes: The Mail Art of Carlo Pittore" (June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland): This Thursday is the opening for an impromptu exhibition of the mail art of one of that mediumıs pioneers, Maine artist Carlo Pittore. Recently diagnosed with cancer, Pittore has begun a healing regime to prepare himself for the Lance-Armstrong-style recovery that awaits him. In an interview with Ruud Janssen from a few years ago, Pittore spoke about his investments in precisely the sorts of risks that Rose described:
"I always laugh when I tell people that there are only three aspects of life that interest me: love, art, and food, and I think that order is generally correct, although food goes to first place a couple of times a day, and love has very indefinite borders. Mail the nature of my mail is sometimes very thrilling, especially if it incorporates love. I am always turned on to a handwritten note, or a lengthy letter, or something decidedly original, or specifically heartfelt, but much in the mail has become, understandably, cold, printed, mass-produced . . . alas. I always appreciate artistic brilliance even if mass-produced or xeroxed, but artistic brillianceı [is] an ideal, and since I often fall short of it, Iım not in any position to lament its demise in others. One reads in mail-art circles how a mail artist is so isolated and alone, except for the network, and I understand this, and have felt this, but I am making a concerted effort to relate better with my local community. I think this is more important, rather than less important. Mail is a vehicle for communication. [B]ut also, perhaps, of NON-involvement, of selective involvement, of partial disguise . . ."
His exhibition at June Fitzpatrick Gallery on High Street offers a rare opportunity to see the contents of Pittoreıs personal archive original collages and drawings, books and postcards and to meet this artist who has had such an impact upon the mail-art genre and upon the arts community in Maine. The show runs through September 25, with a reception Thursday, September 16 from 5 to 7 p.m.
July 25, 2005
"To celebrate the life and work of Carlo Pittore, pseudonym of Charles Stanley, Painter, Mail Artist, and Director of La Galleria dell'Occchio during the 1980's, I took the Long Island Rail Road to his funeral at his family's synagogue in Port Washington, NY, July 19, a few hours after opening an email from his friend and neighbor, Marianne Marrone Legassie, who lived near Carlo in Bowdoinham, Maine until his death from liver cancer on July 17 at the age of 62. He died surrounded by friends, and smiling.
Carlo Pittore, Charles the Painter, a name the little boys of Montecielo gave him during his student years in Tuscany, was an early mail artist, which is how I, and Mark Bloch who also came to celebrate him, knew Carlo since the mid 70's. We chanted the traditional kaddish of all our families, added shovelfuls of earth to his grave, into which Marianne tossed one item of mail, and chanted again with the Stanleys in their houseful of paintings by Carlo, his mom, and his uncle. Bright, hot sun at the cemetery turned into a thunderstorm as we reached the house. The Carlo Pittore Foundation has been established for his work and other art in Maine, and a memorial will be held at eMediaLoft.org in NYC this Fall, so watch website for details. Anyone who has received mail art from him over the yars should bring it.
I share these words from euologies by his childhood friends: David Tobis: "If you could accept yourself, then he could accept you." And when Carlo held the office of judge on their high school student council, he "arranged for Eleanor Roosevelt to visit, even though the principal opposed..." Jeremy Ruskin: Carlo was "a force of nature not possible to be near without being swept into his comet...devoid of artifice...profoundly happy.... A sign on his bookshelf noted 'When I am dead/ Let it be said/ His sins were scarlet/ But his books were re(a)d.' "
"A cadre of local artists get together as often as four times a week to draw from a live model at The Academy of Carlo Pittore, otherwise known as the Berry's old chicken factory. Carlo hires the models, trains them, schedules the sessions, collects our payments, and encourages us to keep the faith." - Bowdoinham, ME
"In a 1984 "Artists Talk on Art" panel discussion in New York City debate quickly degenerated into insults, jeers, and shouted accusations; the scheduled topic, 'International Mail Art: The New Cultural Strategy,' was never addressed. The "mail art melée," as the Village Voice later described it, was touched off by curator Ronnie Cohenıs decision to exclude works submitted to the exhibition 'Mail Art Then and Now' held at the Franklin Furnace. In an open letter to the mail art community that was intended to respond(ing) to Cohenıs 'curatorial censorship,' Carlo Pittore noted that the idea of "no rejections is synonymous with mail art(and is) perhaps the most unique and appealing feature of this universal movement." Exhibiting all materials, wrote Pittore, is a "sacrosanct mail art concept," and crucial to the democratic principles on which he and many other mail artists believe the medium to be based.
Pittoreıs focus on institutional codes and open exhibition procedures is typical of how most self-identified mail artists understand the medium. Since it first emerged as a form of idiosyncratic new media art in the early 1970s, mail art has grown into a self-consciously "alternative" art subculture comprising thousands of documented exhibitions, numerous publications, and museum-like collections or "archives" of correspondence and related materials. This rather complicated system depends, as Pittore indicated, on the suspension of critical judgment or curatorial editing. Collective postings between its participants are frequently identified as part of "The Network," and mail art practice itself has become largely synonymous with 'networking.'"
Carlo (Academy of Carlo Pittore) PITTORE's Inspiration: "Increased communicative power, especially within the mail art network of which I am becoming increasingly active. I knew the work of Donald Evans, E.F. Higgins III et al and I collected stamps passionately for years. It was only a matter of getting the creative confidence to make my own. Artistamps have provided satisfying response and widespread publication/documentation and museum and archival collection."
Carlo's interview can be seen at http://jas.faximum.com/library/tam/tam_33.htm
"Those were the early days of mail art meetings for me, also with Jerry Dreva; David Zack , who lived in LA then. Eventually I met a lot of the people I corresponded with, using various degrees of fanfare. But I always enjoyed the experience of meeting people in person. Things changed drastically in 1982 when I moved from LA to New York. I saw a poster that said Cavellini was going to be in New York. I called the number and ended up speaking on the phone to Buster Cleveland. He said I could perform at the gig. So I was part of a bill that included many of the people I had been corresponding with. One of them was Carlo Pittore. I will never forget our initial meeting, he was yelling to me from the bottom of a stairwell and his big smile and warm greetings were like a Welcome Home to the network. I experienced comraderie from that point on that did not exist in the LA mail art community. Or at least I did not feel a part of it.
Carlo introduced me to John Evans, John Jacob, Ray Johnson, Steve Random, Jean Brown, Zona (Bernard Banville) and many other mail artists. Foreigners came to visit like Arno Arts, Jürgen Olbrich, HR Fricker, Henryk Gajewsky, Sonja Van Der Burg, Günther Ruch. We had all sorts of parties and events for each of them."
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