by Evan Hatch
In a quirky and remarkable gesture, the United States Post Office issued a limited-edition set of Forever stamps featuring the work of Sr. Martín Ramírez. This gesture is remarkable because this semi-famed Mexican American artist is considered by many to be a visionary artist – a category of artists generally relegated to the sidelines of the art game. Visionary art is often classified by what it is not – not trained, not technical, not educated, not valuable. Visionary art is art, but with a modifier.
But art world categories do not apply in this case. Of all unlikely organizations, the USPS has classified Ramírez’s body of work as, simply, art. Ramírez threw everything he had into his artistic vision, and his returns have become recognized on tiny, mass-produced reproductions the size of a postage stamp.
The United States Post Office issued a nuanced, fair assessment of Ramírez’s career and work. USPS CFO Joseph Corbett offered this statement:
[T]hough his name remained virtually unknown in the decade following his death in 1963, Martín Ramírez’s work has become some of the most highly valued examples of art. Today, he joins the ranks of other famous artists, such as Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keefe, William H. Johnson and Frida Kahlo, who have been honored on American postage stamps.
Famed company for Sr. Ramírez. Postage stamps are signifiers, conveying acceptance, if not adoration, by the general public. And if Ramírez’s work can join this diverse canon, who else might be included? Check out this piece from NPR:
North Carolina has a glut of talented artists ready for national recognition. I know I’d buy the Minnie Evans Forever stamp in a quick second. Or a McKendree Robbins Long stamp. His apolyptic visions grab the eye better than any Matisse cutout. Imagine, a little bit of NC art delivered to your mailbox.
Who from North Carolina might be honored through tiny $.44 masterpieces?