Correspondence Honors “An Essential & Revolutionary” Institution

Pictured Above: Artists Megan Barron and Arden Scott prepared their show at the Floyd Memorial Library

The clerks down at the Greenport Post Office have a little secret that’s about to be revealed. 

For a decade now, they’ve been cheerful participants in an ongoing correspondence between Greenport artist and writer Megan Barron and sculptor Arden Scott, who’ve been mailing each other works of art based on found objects ranging from a wooden oar to a whirligig to rocks, seashells and even intimidating hunks of galvanized metal.

Some of these works are on view at Greenport’s Floyd Memorial Library through January 11, 2020, in a show called “Epistolary Mischief: Two Artists Correspond.” An opening celebration is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m.

This ongoing correspondence began when Ms. Barron launched her first solo show, “Correspondence: Lives & Letters” at the library in 2008. The show included a series of library due-date cards, which are now a thing of the past, each with little snippets of text and art affixed, which members of the community could come pick up and start a correspondence.

“I made it like a library, which was also like a post office, where people came and picked up their cards,” said Ms. Barron, adding that Ms. Scott came to check out her card, and then wrote back to her, beginning a correspondence that now includes boxes upon boxes of pieces of art and artifacts. 

“I didn’t know Arden, but I saw her photo in a book by Dave Berson and I wanted to meet her,” said Ms. Barron.

What they didn’t know at the time about each other was that they were both fond of writing letters.

“When I was a kid, I’d be with my friends and we’d see each other all day, and then we’d go home and write each other letters,” said Ms. Barron as the two artists worked to hang the show on Nov. 15.

“I can’t even talk on the phone, except to say something like ‘I’ll meet you in five minutes,’” said Ms. Scott. “I love mail. I love to write and get personal mail.”

“It’s a massive form of communication that’s essential and revolutionary,” said Ms. Barron of the postal service, adding that she’s always been impressed with the service’s unofficial slogan: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

While mail delivery systems were invented in ancient Persia, she said they played a crucial role in the early United States, where letters to relatives as far away as California were often the only way you had of knowing anything about how your family was faring.

“There’s a pride in the institution. They’re always there, still delivering essential communication,” said Ms. Barron.

The artists have also enjoyed the cheerful participation of postal clerks, who provide commemorative stamps, hand cancellations with Greenport’s postmark, and careful handling of these works of art, even sometimes helping to place the stamps on unusual pieces.

“Early on, there was a guy named Joe who would light up and be into it,” said Ms. Barron. “There’s a woman there now who will say ‘oh there’s a good one there for you.’ I had one that was a pair of pliers that looked like a dinosaur, and they found T-Rex stamps and put them on the piece. It’s really nice when they take the time to do that.”

The communications between the artists seem to have developed a clear pattern over the years, with Ms. Barron’s taking a more writerly turn, neatly handwritten or typewritten, while Ms. Scott’s are more likely to include found objects, quite often with a nautical theme.

Ms. Scott hefted a long piece of metal covered in stamps, with a note written in Sharpie that it was found at the corner of Champlin Place and Manhasett Avenue in Greenport. 

“It’s a handsome chunk of galvanized metal,” said Ms. Scott when asked what it was, after which she marched out to the hall to put it into a display case.

“I was always on the lookout for something wacky enough to mail, something completely different,” she said.

“I’m always upping the ante. I absolutely want to do something crazier each time,” said Ms. Barron, who is working on a mobile hung from a plastic ball launcher she found on a recent walk.

“We have more, but we’re under no obligation to share the complete collection,” said Ms. Barron. “It’s still continuing.”

The Floyd Memorial Library is located at 539 First Street in Greenport.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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