Artists wanted: Local collective launches USPS Art Project in support of Postal Service

A local art collective is looking to draw on Long Beach’s community of visual artists and art lovers, to support the U.S. Postal Service.

“This is a multifaceted political event, I guess you could say,” said Dave Conrey, one of the collective Art Clout’s founding members, about USPS which has not only found itself struggling during the pandemic but squarely in the middle of a politicized battle over mail-in ballots. “It shouldn’t be political, but it has become political.”

The recently established Art Clout, whose first art exhibition “Union” was slated to open March 28 but was canceled due to the pandemic, put out a call to artists for the USPS Art Project on Tuesday through its Instagram, @artcloublb.

The way the project works is that anyone can submit a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Art Clout, whose members will then hand-deliver each envelope to a participating artist, who must live in Long Beach, who will then create an original work of art that fits within the envelope to be sent back. Those interested in participating should email [email protected] for more details, and visit artcloutlb.com.

“There’s obviously so many different aspects of it that are out of our control, but part of this whole thing is the fact that the Postal Service has lost a lot of their revenue, they’ve been losing revenue because people aren’t sending letters anymore, they’re not buying stamps and not buying postal boxes.”

Inspired by artist and Art Clout founding member Stephanie Han’s own project to support the Postal Service by exchanging art with friends through the mail, Conrey took it one step further by posting his own iteration on Tik Tok, receiving some 17,000 likes and 500 submissions. With that success, the collective saw an opportunity to bring the project about locally.

“It’s about creating that sense of civic responsibility to keep this American institution alive,” said Conrey. “The idea is that we can bolster one leg of this by buying stamps, if we buy more stamps, more people send more letters, then at least we’re showing not just support but also saying, hey, we’re doing what we can to keep you guys afloat during this tough time.”

There’s no deadline to submit to the project, which is open-ended for now, although some people commented on Instagram their concerns that the extra mail might be piling on to the burden the Postal Service is already facing.

“There’s an artist already doing a project like this and his post office is very appreciative of the extra volume,” Art Clout replied on Instagram. “We hadn’t set an end date for the project, but perhaps dialing it back as we get closer to the election might be a good idea.”

While locally, the impact of this project may be small, at the least “it was meant to, you know, just inspire some people to spend money on stamps,” said Conrey.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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