Carl Chew

Leben und Arbeit/biography

Carl Thomas Chew was born in 1948 in Urbana, Illinois. In 1952 his family moved to Los Angeles, CA. He loved collecting stamps as a kid, as well as painting and drawing. He majored in Zoology in college, but by chance failed one of his last classes and was not allowed to graduate. This allowed him to register again and start taking art classes. His printmaking professor Bill Ritchie was fascinated with stamps, too.  He and Chew eventually began collaborating on projects, and after Chew received his MFA in 1975 they joined together with a number of other artists to form Triangle Studios in Seattle, Washington.

He was making editions of etchings and collagraphs, and selling them at a number of galleries on the West Coast. Then in 1976 he began making stamps with a Color Xerox machine. He and Ritchie perforated their blocks of 4 or 6 stamps with Bill’s invention, a “flea comb perforator.” When the flea comb broke Chew decided that he would be better off with a real perforating machine, that he found for $75. Truly, the best purchase he has ever made in his life. In September of 1977 he met E.F. Higgins III. Thus began a 39 year correspondence!  Ed introduced him to the idea of Mail Art. Though Chew corresponded with many artists over the years, he tended to focus on staying in touch with those who made stamps. His perforating machine never had an idle day, as artists streamed in to perforate their sheets of stamps.

Chew sold his stamps at a local gallery, as well as through subscriptions. Business was brisk, but the commercialization of his work did not always make everyone in the artistamp world happy. In 1998 the first of a wave of financial recessions hit the US. It became harder and harder for him to earn enough from his work. He decided that he would go back to school to become a kindergarten teacher. His teaching career lasted 10 years. In 2007 he became so frustrated with the mandatory testing that was going on that he refused to give his classes the big state test, the WASL. This past June, 2010, he resigned from teaching and returned to being an artist in an arts community still strangled by recession. He had always wanted to make big posters, so he designed an homage to buZ blurr, and mailed it out to 130 artists all over the world. Now he is renewing friendships and getting back to his lost contacts.

Carl Thomas Chew wurde 1948 in Urbana, Illinois, geboren. Im Jahr 1952 zog die Famlilie nach Los Angeles. Als Kind liebte er es zu malen, zu zeichnen und Briefmarken zu sammeln. Auf dem College studierte er Zoologie und Kunst. Sein Druckgrafik-Professor Bill Ritchie war ebenfalls von Briefmarken fasziniert. Nachdem Carl seinen MFA im Jahr 1975 erhielt, schlossen sie sich mit einer Reihe anderer Künstlern in den Triangle Studios in Seattle, Washington, zusammen.

Carl machte Editionen von Radierungen und Collagegrafiken und verkaufte sie in Galerien an der Westküste. Im Jahre 1976 begann er, an einer Farbxerox-Maschine Briefmarken zu machen. Die Blöcke von 4 oder 6 Briefmarken perforierten Bill Ritchie und er mit einem “Flohkamm Locher”, später mit einer echten Perforiermaschine, die nur $75 kostete. Wahrlich, das beste Geschäft seines Lebens, meint Carl. Im September 1977 besuchte ihn E.F. Higgins III. So begann eine 39 Jahre währende Korrespondenz. Ed hat ihn mit der Mail Art bekannt gemacht. Obwohl Carl mit vielen Künstlern korrespondierte, legte er besonderen Wert auf Kontakte zu denen, die auch Briefmarken machten. Sie strömten zu ihm, um ihre Briefmarken-Bögen zu perforieren.

Carl Chew verkaufte seine Briefmarken in einer örtlichen Galerie sowie an Abonnementen. Das Geschäft war lebhaft, aber seine Vermarktung machte nicht jeden in der Welt der Artistamps glücklich. Die finanzielle Krise, die die USA 1998 betraf, machte es Carl immer schwerer, genug mit seiner Kunst zu verdienen. Deshalb beschloss er, wieder in einer Schule zu arbeiten. Seine Lehrer-Karriere dauerte 10 Jahre. Im Jahr 2007 wurde er das viele Testen in der Schule leid, gab das Unterrichten auf und kehrte zu seinen Wurzeln, den Artistamps, zurück. Er wollte schon immer große Plakate machen und entwarf als erstes eine Hommage an buZ blurr, das er an 130 Künstler in aller Welt schickte. Jetzt ist er dabei, seine Freundschaften zu erneuern und verlorene Kontakte wieder zu knüpfen.

Ausgewählte Arbeiten/selected works

Literatur (Auswahl)/literature (selection)


Video Prehistoric Post Office (1979)


Author: Mail Artists' Index

Mail Artists' Index Biographies, works and links concerning important Mail Artists. – Biografien, Arbeiten und Links bedeutender Mail Art Künstler. Mail Art | Mail Artists | Postkunst

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