Conventional wisdom suggests that artists should “think big” – if not in the size of their work, then in the scope of their vision. But what if their work was restricted to a format that’s 4-inches by 6-inches and meant to be mailed?

Apparently, when Petaluma artists “think small” big things happen. At least that’s the idea behind the Petaluma Postcard Project, a showcase of local artists, from a variety of disciplines, using the postcard as a form unto itself. Think “medium, message and mail” and you get the idea.

An exhibit featuring the results of the project opens with a reception at 7 pm, Friday, April 8 at the Petaluma Mail Depot. (Full disclosure: Your trusty Rivertown reporter is a participant in the show).

The Petaluma Postcard Project redeploys the 19th century postal format as a medium for documentary, interactive fiction, recorded music, sculpture, and a puzzle among other art experiments. The choice of venue was not without a sense of whimsy too. The works, shown in both large format as well their limited-edition postcard iterations, can literally be plucked off the wall and dropped in the mail on the premises.

“It’s really impressive how our Petaluma artists re-invented not only the form but, as often, their work itself,” says Karen Hess who co-curated the show and whose Dyepot Series depicts the process of creating natural dyes from locally-grown plants and responsibly-foraged mushrooms.

Others in the exhibit include internationally-lauded artists Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti (who, together, create private commissions and collaborations with performing artists such as Susan Sarandon and Margaret Cho). For the exhibit, they created a postcard puzzle extracted from their harrowing image “Clown Nightmare” and sculpted ceramic postcards that reimagine the format in three dimensions.

Expatriate Petaluma photographer and writer Trane DeVore sent visually-striking postcards from Japan where he is a university professor and lifelong Petaluma photographer DR Ferguson reframed Petaluma through a neo-noir lens.

Musician and major label veteran Shannon Ferguson debuts his new instrumental act, Breathing Canyon, with a limited release lathe-cut vinyl postcard record featuring an original composition, “Graviton.” Petaluma musicians Liam Nelson and Paul Goldowitz will perform with Ferguson in the trio’s debut performance at the reception.

Says Hess, “Now anyone can have a pocket-sized art collection created by artists who are also their neighbors.”

The Petaluma Postcard Project reception begins at 7 pm, Friday, April 8, at the Petaluma Mail Depot, 40 4th Street, Petaluma. The exhibit runs through May 3. Visit

Daedalus Howell is the author of Quantum Deadline, a darkly comic sci-fi crime novel, set in Lumaville. Also, you’ll never believe the strange goings-on at

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