Thinking again

The sound of thunder during last weekend’s chilly storm almost convinced me to skip my Second Saturday plans, until I realized the rumblings I heard were suspiciously rhythmic. The thunder was actually a bass drum, and it was getting louder.

My cat and I peered cautiously out my front window. Police cars blocked the nearest intersection, their lights flashing blue and red on the wet pavement. Then people covered in clear balloons marched into view, looking like soapsuds on a mission. It was the Harv’s Metro Car Wash Midtown Bubble Parade!

Having no use for cars, clean or otherwise, my cat turned her back and began licking her paws. I stayed glued to the window as a soggy marching band stomped by, undaunted by raindrops in their trumpet bells. Their rousing anthem was a wake-up call. If these fine musicians didn’t let the rain stop their parade, then I had no excuse for missing the opening reception for Think Postcard! at La Raza Galeria Posada. I donned a coat and puddle-jumped a path to the gallery.

I was excited to see the results of Sacramento Poet Laureate Julia Connor’s mail art project, whose origins I’d covered a year ago (“Going postal,” SN&R TK, April 20, 2006). With the help of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Connor organized more than 30 workshops where people of all ages met to decorate postcards and mail them to SMAC for inclusion in a community art show.

SMAC received 912 submissions from throughout California and Oregon. The numbers so exceeded expectations that a committee was formed to determine which cards to exhibit. Many of the children’s entries were sent to the Galt and Isleton libraries. A handful of others are spending April at the Asylum Gallery, and several hundred currently are on display at La Raza Galeria Posada. I’d sent in a card last April, and I was curious to learn whether it had been chosen.

Postcards of all colors dangled in the gallery windows. Each was clipped with a clothespin to a length of clear fishing line hanging from the ceiling. Every line held several cards, and there were dozens suspended throughout the room. The cards caught subtle air currents and turned gently, so it was possible to see both sides as they rotated.

The cards’ sheer variety reflected Sacramento’s lauded diversity. Postcards had been quilted, edged in lace, covered in metal, sewn, glued, collaged, feathered and painted. Some had love notes and some had poems and some had no words at all. A three-dimensional card by Lynn Daly of Crescent City bristled with dolls’ eyes. Peering into one of the eyes, I saw the entire room through a prism of repeating rainbows.

I submersed myself in the messages and musings of my neighbors. Letting the cards brush me as I passed, I read the words on each: “Catch the feeling!” “I wonder why we don’t have wings.” “Brie, You moved! I don’t know where you live.” “Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” “Birth is as safe as life gets.” “I have put all my heart in it.” I studied children’s shaky scrawl and the bylines of poets like José Montoya, B.L. Kennedy and Patricia D’Alessandro.

I let the images flow in: cars, elephants, butterfly wings, the Chicago skyline, foreign stamps, gold stars, stuffed mushrooms. And then, between a card that read “scary / hungry / attack / red / kill” in a child’s handwriting and a poem about alien cattle abduction by Robin Saxton of Eugene, Ore., I found my card.

One side bore a watercolor painting of a starry night, with a quote from David Houston’s “She Counts the Stars.” On the other, a note about sleeplessness. I was surprised by the words I’d written—had I really been so sad? I fondly remembered making the card in Luna’s Café. I’d been chatting with friends, swapping paint and pens with no worries about the mess.

Though I was thrilled to be included in the show, finding this evidence of myself—lonely and happy and painting outside the lines—was simultaneously embarrassing and inspiring. Sort of like a soggy parade on a rainy day.