Modesto Art Museum Events to celebrate
the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express

Every year the Modesto (California) Art Museum hosts an international mail art exhibit. Mail art is any piece of art, collage, sculpture, painting, drawing, etc. that is sent through the mail so that the postage and address become part of the art. It isn't what is inside the envelope that matters, but what is on the outside.

Often we celebrate anniversaries of an event or movement. In March 2009, it was the 90th anniversary of Surrealism. More than 400 artists from 35 countries participated. In January 2006 our Benjamin Franklin 300th Anniversary Mail Art event was part of the national celebration of his birth. I chose Franklin because he was the first postmaster and again more than 400 pieces of art came from all over the world.Often, we use as a theme something that is directly postal, as with the pony express, or in 2011 it will be the 100th anniversary of official air mail.

Though Modesto has no direct connection to the Pony Express, the Pony Express is high interest for many people. Mail art is one way for people all over country and world to be and feel a part of the anniversary. We will also post online lesson plans for teachers, have a anniversary party in April, and hopefully an exhibit of Pony Express philatelic artifacts as well as the exhibit of mail art itself.

These exhibits are wonderful in themselves, but the best part from my perspective is getting hundreds of people to create a piece of art reflecting their interpretation of the pony express. Shown above is a piece of mail art sent for the Ben Franklin event, it has a pony express theme.

Bob Barzan, Director

Planned Events