...or tries to...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Collections: Posted

I've loved old postcards for a long time now, enough to start collecting them when I was ten, (the first one found in the desk in the living room, one sent to my Mom, of a New Jersey amusement park). Enough to fix some into my sketchbooks, enough to use them as backgrounds in my earliest shadowboxes. At first I loved the backs, with their old stamps and postmarks, the idea of being the latest in the chain of ownership, to have caught something first sent out in 1909 or 1914. There was never anything interesting scratched in old ink next to the names and addresses, just snips of vacation itineraries and "missing you". They were like paper airplanes, in a way, sent out into the air and caught, sent out and caught. I started collecting them later for the pictures, not for their nostalgia, necessarily, but for their distortions, the way they seem more like memory than document, the way they seem to take real places and make them stranger, taller, softer, higher, lonelier.

Before the internet, I wasn't exactly sure a place like this could actually exist. But it does. Though not as impossible in recent photographs, as it seems to be here.

Thirty Rockefeller Center seeming taller and narrower than it should, my favorite skyscraper to this day, 

My college, long long before I wound up there, 

Amusement park rides the way I think we want to remember them, like the glowing skeletons of benevolent dinosaurs left to spin us and toss us around.

The dark and quiet corners,

 and Zombie Houses.

Later I fixed on night scenes, unlike any night scenes I had ever seen, with moons like spotlights, turning real places into stage sets:

and almost always, one boat, out there alone,


One house, out there, across the falls, (Would they hear you, if you were caught in the current, would the two lit windows be what your eyes fixed on, your last solid safe sight, before the water claimed you?)

Four, (or five, or six?) featureless people sailing the lake,

something like a painting by Albert Pinkham Ryder

with all its heightened enigmatic night, its whys and wheres left completely up to you.


Daydreamer said...

What a wonderful glimpse of your collection, Amy! You have some real treasures! What ARTISTIC renderings of the Amusement Parks... I can see why they would appeal! Like Illustrations without the Story..... And the moonlit vistas... Those remind me a bit of the Medieval attempts to portray night scenes... so well lit!
The only post cards I have collected (other than the ones mailed to me with "missing you..." on them) came from various Museum shops... collected for the images of Artwork, costumes, Paintings, Illuminations from Medieval Manuscripts... all of which I could not own any other way!
It has always interested me that the changes in technology related to printing and photography have impacted the way we see the World... the way it is portrayed... from hand tinted etchings to full color photographs... You have some Delightful examples!

Amy said...

Betsey, I love those too, especially one, a wooden Buddhist figure from the Met, with one hand holding onto the index finger of the other hand, a beautiful piece that made me feel like I was falling the first time I saw it. And the postcards I brought back from Chartres, my first and only trip to France, to remind me of the cathedral that made me cry when I went inside. It is the closest we get to keeping the things the cards depict, that's so true. I can see how beautifully the Illuminated manuscripts and costumes and art influenced your world, your home, how they inspire what you do, in both your human -
scaled and small scale universes!

Daydreamer said...

You cried in Chartres, Amy?
I cried in Rocamadour.... or rather Tears POURED from my eyes... with no sobs no gasps... just tears pouring down... it was one of the most Profoundly moving experiences of my life!

Amy said...

I did! I didn't expect it at all, I've never really reacted to any place quite like that. I'd been amazed and charmed and transfixed in places before, but there was something about Chartres that struck something almost subconscious and unknown. I still can't say exactly what. I had a very similar experience listening to Buddhist monks throat singing in a church in Rockport, MA, of something just letting go, of finding something in the center of myself, of being there and somewhere else at exactly the same time. I'm not Buddhist or Catholic, so it meant even more, in a way. It was like that for you in Rocamdour?

Daydreamer said...

Yes! Really! So unlooked for, so unexpected, so unbelievable... It wasn't that the Chapel was beautiful.... it was almost bare, a corner with chairs set up next to a small window high up under the cliffs... I just FELT ... Touched... Opened... as though a Much Greater part of Me was there... and Tears Pouring from my eyes... but no sobs...
I am not Catholic or even really Christian for that matter... either... but I believe the Name we give the Religion is not what matters anyway...
So , Yeah, I felt it Mattered More in a strange way!

Amy said...

Yes. Absolutely.

Sans! said...

The closest I come to tearing over a building was the Taj Mahal. :)

Those are beautiful cards, Amy but I am partial toward the old. I was looking at the postcards of the amusement parks and then at the pictures you published in the post before, also of amusement parks. They are of similar subject, one set tacky and crass, if I may say so, and the other filled with a sense of mystery, wonderment and nostalgia, as if I could miss something I was never a part of. I don't even enjoy places like Disney land ! :).

Age just has a way of enriching even the most mundane. For me, it's as if once something is old, they have earned their place in history.

Amy said...

Sans, The Taj Mahal. I can see that. Maybe one day, I actually will...

I have memories of old amusements parks, not just the one I grew up in, Nunley's, but a seaside place in Brooklyn that we went to once when visiting my grandparents in Brooklyn, and the stucco castle shaped little park next to Nathan's in my hometown that didn't survive my tenth birthday, (the Nathan's where Frank Sinatra sang once), and seeing Coney Island's Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump and the Cyclone. My Mom and Dad really knew that kind of park-Luna Park, and Steeplechase Park, that has that kind of soft lightbulb fantasy. My one memory as a just-adult, at 19, was a strange country fair one summer night in Maine, that had all the lights and the midway and Twilight Zone oddness, surrounded by miles of dark. But it featured the world's fattest pig, and it was really depressing, and kind of sad.