“Stamp design has allowed me, in a small way, to participate in the pictorial documentation of our American history.”—Howard Koslow, artist
Stamps were originally intended to simply show that the cost of delivering a letter had been paid. “Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Art of the Stamp,” an exhibition opening Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, showcases some of the original art for postage stamps commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service during the last 50 years. The works of art featured in the exhibit are on loan from the U.S. Postal Service.
The works of art on display in the exhibit are a sampling of the wide range of events, people and trends that have influenced American culture—the “Trailblazers & Trendsetters” that have earned a place in the nation’s history and have been honored on stamps.
From explorers to entertainers, the “Trailblazers & Trendsetters” on exhibit represent a broad spectrum of American history and popular culture. Among the “Trailblazers & Trendsetters” on display are “Buffalo Soldiers,” “Emily Dickinson,” “Duke Ellington,” “First Man on the Moon,” “Juan Ponce de Leon” and “Laurel & Hardy.”
The works in “Trailbazers & Trendsetters: Art of the Stamp” are as diverse as their subjects. A variety of media are shown, including pencil sketches, bold ink line caricatures and brilliantly colored oils. The 76 pieces on display in this exhibition are the work of more than 40 different artists; some of the original works are more than 100 times the size of the stamp on which they appear.
Terry McCaffrey, manager of stamp development for the U.S. Postal Service, is the guest curator for “Trailblazers & Trendsetters: Art of the Stamp.”
The exhibition design was created by the San Francisco-based graphic design firm Michael Osborne Design Inc.
Since 1775, the U.S. Postal Service and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, have connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. The U.S. Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world’s mail volume—some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year—and serves 10 million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide. For more information on the 2007 stamp program, go to usps.com/communications/newsroom/2007stamps.
The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., in the Old City Post Office Building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s Web site at postalmuseum.si.edu.
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