The Duchess of Doubt




Just had to show both sides of this one, in a classic mail art mode of mixed media collage about halfway between perfect structure & dada chaos. The "pictorial" side incorporates stencilled letter, a letter stencil, tracing paper, a torn rubberstamped (or probably letterpressed) image, a stenciled human figure, all these separate fragments glued together with aesthetic perfection. The address side is "signed" with a wax seal letter "G" for Golden, & a few other components. The finished composition was risked to the postal service without protection. And it made it from Berkeley to Seattle unscathed, postmarked 15 November 1994.

The Duchess of Doubt is one & the same with Alisa Golden of Never Mind the Press, & she is simply a fabulous artist of the highest merit, well known for her handmade artistbooks. I first met her long ago at a science fiction convention where I was selling not only antiquarian books, but also card decks I'd made using bookbinding materials, in handmade boxes, with comical instructions for games that could actually be played with them. Alisa bought one of these decks from me (they were not cheap) & said something on the order of, "I hope you know I am going to steal away your idea for art of my own!" I said, "That's okay but only if you steal me away too." She asked coyly, "What would I do with you if I did steal you?" Said I: "Anything you please," with by then terrible heart palpitations of joy.

Some while later she sent me a card deck she had created in a limited subscribed edition. It consisted of season-related cards on handmade papers which had incorporated into the paper leaves & flowers from each season, letterpressed with a poetic line keyed to each season. If anyone were to hold my deck of cards up next to hers, they'd never detect any influence of mine. It's that way with fine artists; everyone steals from somewhere, but only the talentless copy, because things get so adapted, reinterpretted, changed, &am personalized that in the end it's not really stolen. It goes easy on my ego that my own art could inspire someone clearly more skillful as an artist than I could ever be.

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